How to Buy Your First Car: Advice from a Fellow Teenager
Just last week, I bought my first car. My dream car. It's a 1973 Chevy Camaro, and it would look mighty familiar to you if you've seen the first transformers movie. Yellow with black racing stripes - its the sweetest car at school. I gave it everything I had, and I got just what I wanted. I'm writing this Hub to help you out - and get you the sweet first car you just have to have.
How to Start: Set Goals
The first thing to consider when buying a car is not what you'd think. To get what you really want, consider what it is you really want. As a highschooler, popularity is all that matters. If your sole purpose in life is to impress the girls... then you have to do your best to do so. Alternatively, if your goal is to save the world, consider a smaller economy car. Before you begin, decide what you want.
With that descision made, you now have motivation to make money. Money money money... As a teenager, making money can be a drag. But there are options all around you that you never realized existed. Think of your working life as a ladder. Everyone starts on the lowest rung. These are grunt jobs: digging trenches, raking leaves - nobody waats to do it, but it makes minimum wage and can be a decent way to earn cash.
My tip for money making: whatever work you do, do your best. Even if every fiber of your being is against it, go the extra mile. Employers will see how dedicated you are. When they are talking to their coworkers, maybe something will come up. If you really stand out, and you will if you work hard, you could get hired by someone else - who pays more. Don't rush things though. Buying a car requires a lot of money, patience, and motivation. Set goals for yourself. "In the month of July, I want to make $300 dollars mowing lawns and doing yardwork." There you go. Convince yourself the world will end unless you make that money. When work is slow-going, put fliers in mailboxes around the neighborhood, advertising what kind of work you do. Put up posters. Talk to people. Ask for work. Embrace your talents - if you're really good with numbers, be a math tutor. Work outside. Clean homes. Babysit. Do the work you know how to do and are good at. And never blame other people because you can't make money - you are the one to blame. Find that motivation, and stick to it.
This will take a long time. Be prepared for this.
Find the Car
FInding 'The Car' is not an easy task. In your head, you may have very specific desires for your first car. Don't get your hopes up too high. Unless you really worked hard, you may not be able to get exactly what you wanted.
'The Car' is typically not the first car you see. If you're buying an Acura Legend with the intention of hotrodding it, look around. Figure out what is most important to you about the car - Is it looks? Performance? MPG? I bought my first car based off looks and the engine. My friend is buying his based off... the stereo system. Design a rough idea of what you're looking for, then look for it. If you know someone with that particular car, ask if they will sell. Look on craigslist, and Ebay Motors. Look at all the dealers in the area to see what your options are - you may have to revise your plan if the car is too expensive or...doesn't exist.
Buy the Car
Once you have found the car, you're pretty much there.
Before your purchase though, you might want to take a look at it. Does it fit your wants and needs? Is everything running alright? Has it been in any collisions? Take it for a test drive to make sure the engine works. Sometimes, the car just might not be the right size for you. I've had to hunch over in several of the cars I've test-driven, because I'm so tall. Also, check the miles. If it is an older car and the engine was not rebuilt, the car could be on its last leg. Avoid buying cars with over 100,000 miles on them, unless you're willing to make (or pay for) a lot of repairs. Look the car up online - was there some fatal flaw that made this a really unsuccessful model? Anything else you should be concerned about? If you have the resources, have a mechanic look at it just to make sure everything is in working order. Safety first.
If it passes all of that, you're about ready to make an offer. First though, see what the person is asking for it - ask if they are firm on the price, and use your social skills to determine if they are willing to drop the price. If they are, make a reasonable offer. Consider the price of the car - if it is cheap, then do not make a significantly lower offer, because you won't be taken seriously.
If they agree, buy the car up. You may feel buyer's remorse - which is normal. Just tell yourself that this is what you wanted, and that you achieved your goal. Be sure to tell everyone that you bought the car yourself. That's a pretty remarkable thing for a teenager to do, and its respectable. Show everyone how responsible you can be.
Tips and Suggestions
- Be sure to keep making money. Cars break down, there's insurance and gas costs, and you want to be prepared if you get a ticket. Have a good chunk set aside in the event of any calamity. One way to do this is to carpool to school - and have friends pay for their rides.
- You may want to take the bus to school, even if you have a car. This saves money on gas, puts less wear and tear on your engine, and saves you from having to find a parking spot at school.
- Be responsible with your car. Wear your seatbelt, dive safely, follow the laws. Teenagers can be pretty stupid, and it would be a shame to lose your car (or your life) after so much hard work.
- Enjoy your car. You worked hard. Show off, and be proud.
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