Some people can't grasp the meaning of large sums of money. They take months to acquire a fridge, but get a £20,000 car loan on a whim. It's a buzz! Reason goes out the door.
It's understandable. There's a certain amount of romance in getting a new vehicle. You're excited, the wife is excited, the kids are excited.
Now is the time to get out pen, paper and calculator and do some mathematics. What's the worst that could happen? Do you have a contingency plan? What happens if you get laid-off? Do you have health insurance, some money put away for a rainy day, is the kids education secured?
Avoid debt-restructing or loan-consolidation companies. These can get you into more trouble. Negotiate yourself with your creditors, and get any agreements in writing!
You should ask yourself if you truly need a car loan, even if it's the cheapest. Can you manage without? While lenders might make it easy for you, they're not your chums. They're in business to make money.
They also make money on things like pre-payment penalites, fees and insurance. You need to focus on the total cost, and watch your personal finances. Too many people are skating on thin ice for too long.
Rate the cheapest car loans you view. If you plan to see more than a few lenders, rate them to keep track of the ones you like the best. This will keep everything in order. Rate the deals on what you need (not want), and the ability to repay early.
Do a budget. Make sure you use realistic figures. Keep all of your receipts for all of the money that you spend for a month.
Use that to help you compile the first draft. Be prepared to review and update regularly. This allows you to see what you can afford, and get rid of extravagance and waste.
Choose a car loan company with a clean record with the industry watchdogs.
Do your own 'due diligence' by typing the name of the your cheapest car loan company into a search engine, along with the words "problem" or "scam" or "bad experience". This should show any negative remarks about them. If there are a few, or the allegations look substantial, avoid them.
If I were looking for a loan, I'd widen my horizons. What do you want? Money. How does one get more money? By:
- Getting a second job or paying hobby;
- By scrounging from friends or family;
- Getting a different job that pays better;
- By saving what you've already got - no holiday, give up ciggies and booze for a while!