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Buying a car is a major expense for most people. Sometimes the purchase is unplanned, for example, if the car is totaled in a traffic accident. Other times, the purchase can be anticipated in advance. If you will be car shopping in the near future, the following tips may help to prepare for financing it.

Start Saving

Even if you want to trade in your current vehicle on a new car, it is a good idea to start putting some money aside to buy your next car. Having money in the bank earning interest could make a substantial impact toward your down payment and monthly payments. Try saving $100 to $200 per month, or whatever you can afford, so you will be ready when it’s time to make a deal on a new or used vehicle.

Shop Around

Take time to browse area car lots for a good car or the model you have already decided to buy. Test drive more than one to get a feel for the vehicle. It also helps to shop online, as you can sometimes find great deals that are not locally available. Driving a few miles further to pick up a great car at an affordable price is often worth the effort.

Compare Financing Options

If you plan on using your savings to pay cash for a car, consider whether those funds might be needed for future emergencies. You don’t necessarily want to end up cash-poor if a pressing need should arrive. You might not have enough money saved to pay for your purchase in full. Check out your eligibility for various auto loans to see what kind of terms you can get. A low- or no-down payment plan with reasonable monthly payments at low interest can work with most people’s budgets.

Time Your Purchase

Many of the best car deals take place at strategic times of the year, month, and day. For example, the next year’s new models typically hit the market in late summer or early fall, so dealers will be lowering prices on older models. Dealership associates try to rack up their sales by selling just one more vehicle at the end of the month and the end of the, just in time to outshine the competition. So you might want to go car shopping in late August on a Friday evening to negotiate your car deal.

Get a great price on your next car. Start planning now using these tips.