What’s worse than a used car salesman?

carWhat’s worse than a used car salesman?

A bad one!

I’ll bet you thought I was going to say the insurance guy. But that would be wrong because the right kind of insurance can provide lifetime benefits (meaning your lifetime…) and beyond! You can contact me about that if you would like, toll free.

Now back to the used car guy selling lemons. It left me with a sour taste in my mouth, but the ending is actually pretty sweet… keep reading.

All kidding aside – a car is a necessity for me.  I was heartbroken when my affordable and fully paid up Volvo took a turn for the worse.  But after two decades of service and raising two kids in the back seat through rain, snow, sleet and hail… It was time for me to part ways with my oldest and dearest friend.  My car had to be put to rest.

I found a great charity that would accept my “purse on wheels” for the benefit of others. I sat in the car one last time, and expressed my appreciation for all of the comfort, safety and sanctuary I enjoyed in the vehicle. Then I scoured it for lose change, high heels, and all the kid money workshop materials I kept in case of an emergency financial seminar that needed me.  You’d be surprised at how often my mobile closet came to the rescue- the modern female version of Clarke Kent.

Tearfully, I blew a kiss to the dashboard and turned over keys, spare tires and my unwritten memories of life in that vehicle.

So I did what any reasonable financially savvy person would do – I got pre-qualified for a car loan so that price would not be an option. I could decide later whether to pay cash or finance my new ride…. while shopping, I’d just keep my focus on getting the best value value.  Meaning the value of the particular vehicle to me and my budget.

The Internet search for a new ride began!  The background research is probably what I would call the most important part of car shopping. This allowed me to gauge the fair market value of the cars that peaked my interest.  It also allowed me to do a cost comparison and evaluate the dealers. The dealer ratings proved to be invaluable because satisfied customers are always the best selling tool, regardless of the item purchased!

Going to dealers throughout the tri-state area, kicking the tires on every imaginable  year, make and model with options, features, warranties and test drives… was a time-consuming mind (and behind) numbing experience.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s all about you and the dealer (or seller, if you’re doing a private sale…) getting your numbers right – that’s where the rubber truly meets the road.

I realized that the dealers with the lowest rating (meaning the customers gave them a low quality rating) were the bad guys.  Many enticed potential customers with low prices online, but when it got down to the actual numbers, there were many add-ons and high fees to drive away.  It was disappointing and a real turn off when the “low price” ballooned with hidden title fees, document fees, warranties, loans, taxes….. and the biggest turnoff of all – a deal unwilling to negotiate.

I also contacted a few insurance carriers – so I would know the total annual cost of my new ride… just to avoid any buyer’s remorse in the long run.  Moving right along… I found two and was ready to talk ‘the numbers.’  Then I cringed at the thought of having to negotiate.

But, with the right dealer, negotiating is a remarkably pleasant experience.  The dealer with a higher rating (having more starts and more satisfied customers who recommend the particular dealer), had a better product, price and process.

The transparent pricing from the onset was a major plus.  So you know the real price before ever setting foot on the lot.  My best experience was with car dealers having no hidden document or title fees, those willing to waive inspection, title and other fee cosmetic considerations, lower and better warranties … and willing to negotiate!

Happy I got a top of the line brand in the color of my choice and an awesome price and experience with the dealer.  The car buying experience should be part of everyone’s financial education – whether or not you ever own a car, or ride in an Uber.

Me and my new purse on wheels are grateful for our good karma.



About candi sparks

Candi Sparks is a fully licensed financial professional and a Brooklyn mother of two. She works with private clients, business owners, the NYC Department of Education, faith based, non profit and community organizations on financial education and implementing financial strategies for success. Events are fun, interactive and solid financial information. Sparks Fly, financial literacy for YOU(th) Learn more so you can live more! toll free: 866.556.2432
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