Thursday, September 12, 2013

Saving the Moola: Tips for Buying a Used Car, Part 2

Our new car, Sandy
We've shared most of our best tips for buying a used car in part 1. But here's our number one best tip:

Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate
We're in our new car, which wasn't yet our car, and we're driving it back from my parents' after driving it there during our test drive. We're talking over our strategy for negotiating the price. The car was priced $940 over retail value, so in my eyes, we had a lot of wiggle room for talking the price down. Jason and I took Financial Peace University in 2012, and in one of the lessons, Dave Ramsey covers negotiating. After making your offer and receiving the counter offer, if it's not good enough, say, "That's not good enough." Then, shut.up. So I'm sharing this with my dad, as technically it is his (and my mom's) money that is paying for the car. I had never negotiated a car before, so I wasn't really confident in negotiating what is really someone else's money. In short, I didn't want to screw this up.

We all know the strategy, and my dad is going to lead the way. We arrive back at the dealership. The sales associate we had been working with, Scott, comes over. My dad lets him know we're ready to make an offer and tells him what it is. The offer is about $900 less than what the car is currently priced at. Scott says okay and leads us into the dealership office to write up the paperwork to present the offer to the dealership owners.

While Scott writes up the paperwork, he starts noting all of these extra fees. Since none of us had ever bought a car from a dealership before, we were, well, in sticker shock to say the least. We would've made an even lower offer if we had known about these fees! Anyway, we all agree that if the dealership owners agree to our offer, the deal would be done. I sign on the line. This is the first clue I have that I'm the one negotiating (dude, Dad, what happened? You're the one who is supposed to be talking here!!!).

Scott takes the paperwork to the owners. While he's gone, Jason, my dad and I discuss all the extra fees thrown in. I'm pretty much in shock, as are they, and we all agree we wouldn't really budge a lot on the offer we made. This is already adding up to more than we imagined (more than our initial offer and more than I wanted to take the car for), so we discuss how much we'd be willing to negotiate. It wasn't a lot, I can tell you that.

Scott comes back with an offer in the middle of the road. And by middle of the road, I mean it's an offer I'm walking from. When he presents the offer, my dad says, "That's not gonna work." To reinforce what he said (and to use the exact verbiage Dave Ramsey recommends using), I say, "That's not good enough."

The longest pause of my life ensues. And by pause, I really mean the whole world stops. Jason, my dad and I all go silent, as agreed. Only Scott does, too. Hmm, maybe he took a class on negotiating, too! Here we all are, all silent. For a full bloody minute. If you think that doesn't sound like a long time, I really recommend going silent for a full minute in a situation like this. I really thought I was going to die.

I was biting my tongue. I wasn't going to be the first to break the silence. I was not going to back down. This was do or die.

Finally, finally, Scott breaks the silence. He reiterates this is their offer. I let it be known that we're walking then. Scott quickly backtracks and says, "Oh no, I mean, do you have any wiggle room?" I name my final offer. I tell him I wouldn't go a penny over. I tell him I'm walking if that amount can't be agreed upon because there's no way I'd pay more for that car.

I sign on the line for the new offer. Scott leaves to talk with the owners, then comes back.

And the deal is done. The car is mine.

I share this story for several reasons: 1. Because it was an epic moment for me. I felt so powerful. I knew what I was doing and I knew what this car was worth. I knew how to negotiate and I felt so strong. I felt like Superwoman. 2. Negotiating works. If you do it right. 3. Because I want you to know that if I can do this, you can do this, too. You can do this. You can do this for phone service, you can do this for dry cleaning, you can do this for a new car.

By negotiating, I saved $695 off the car's sticker price at the dealership. I also saved sales tax on that $695, which was another $41.70. Negotiating works.

Really, buying a used car wasn't just a lesson in a buying a used car. Buying a car taught me a lot about buying, selling, trading. I will never forget the feeling I had when we left the dealership - I felt on top of the world. My confidence was through the roof. That moment definitely changed me forever.

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