Debating New Versus Used Car

Car Shopping

I could use some guidance. I’m a college senior who’s graduating at the end of May, with a degree in sociology. I already have a job lined up in Sacramento, which means I’m planning to move there and start my life as a full-fledged adult. I was lucky enough not to need a car during my time as an undergraduate. I hitched rides with friends and use Uber most of the time. The former won’t be possible, since I don’t know anyone out there yet. The latter won’t be cost-effective, especially for commuting to work. My parents think I should look into leasing a new car, but my roommate said it’d be a lot cheaper to get a used car off of Craigslist. My parents don’t know this, but I lapsed a bunch of credit card payments last year, so my credit score isn’t the best. With that in mind, what options do I really have?

Deciding whether to get a vehicle isn’t easy. There are multiple factors you should take into consideration before coming to any kind of conclusion. Everyone has unique circumstances that influence the decision-making process. What matters most is that you only weigh the pros and cons relevant to your scenario. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of resources available for those trying to figure out their options.

One of the first things to consider is whether a car is truly necessary to support the lifestyle you desire. California has a reputation for ample warmth and sunshine, which create the perfect conditions for walking or bicycling on a regular basis. One author at 20 Something Finance wrote a compelling article that highlights five reasons to ditch a car and ride a bike to work. The cost savings and health benefits shouldn’t be underestimated, especially for someone starting a new job.

The good news is that Sacramento has a fairly reliable public transit system. Editors at Good Day CBS maintain a public guide explaining the four major public transportation options available to city residents and visitors alike. Those are things you should definitely explore yourself, before disqualifying them as possibilities. However, you ought to also continue investigating the possibility of getting a car.

Miriam Caldwell at The Balance openly debated the advantages of buying a new versus buying a used car. Her explanations are reasonably straightforward. The biggest pro of a new car is having it under warranty, which means you’re unlikely to pay for any repairs on the vehicle for at least 3 years. The primary con of buying a new car is the fact that its largest depreciation occurs within its first couple of years. The biggest pro of buying a used car is allowing someone else to incur the larger share of its depreciation. In other words, you’re much more likely to break even if you eventually decide to sell it yourself. The main con associated with buying a used car is incurring unexpected repair costs.

In your particular situation, buying a used car has another major advantage. Used car financing is likely to be much easier while trying to rebuild your credit score. Writers at Car And Driver echo similar sentiments, while explaining what you should know before buying a car. Other suggested considerations include timing your purchase, check your credit history, knowing the invoice price, etc. Suffice it to say that there’s plenty of investigating you still need to do. The more information you have at your disposal, the better.

“I’m not just buying a car-- I’m buying a lifestyle!” - Lynn Johnston

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