I cannot believe I'm finally writing this blog post! My dream car has finally arrived and I can already say after the first month and 1,000 miles I am obsessed! Honestly, I still can't believe it's all mine and I can't believe it's here!
If anyone else has been trying to buy a car over the last few years you know trying to find a new car without ordering it is nearly impossible and the waiting lists take just a little bit of time to work through! I put the deposit down on my car last year (June 7th to be exact) and finally signed the papers and drove off with my new car on March 31st (so you know just a few months later). Despite that though, I wouldn't have changed a single part of it!
Not only did I have to work on my patience while waiting for my car to arrive, but having to wait nearly a year gave me time to set myself up for financial stability once the car arrived. I also was able to think through everything at a pace that really helped me wrap my head around such a large purchase.
I've known for a few years that I wanted a hybrid as my next vehicle. I put close to 100 miles a day on my car with my daily commutes so it was important to me to find a way to save money and work on being a little more sustainable. I also knew that I wanted an SUV with all-wheel drive because hello, I live in Vermont. Now I certainly didn't need a massive SUV but I just prefer to have room for my Wrigley, my friends, and all of my stuff and I'm an SUV girl at heart. Also, everyone has little things they absolutely have to have in their vehicles right? Well, I had to have heated, cloth seats. I know cloth seems like an odd non-negotiable but I didn't want to have to worry about the seats ripping or something like that. Plus, I am a wimp about the cold so heated seats were absolutely necessary. All of this being said, I very quickly decided on a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
Truthfully, I've known I wanted a RAV4 for the last few years, but it didn't stop me from dragging my mom to dealerships last summer to test-drive different SUVs. Once I drove the RAV4 (again for like my tenth test drive) I decided enough was enough and it was time to put down a deposit and get on the waiting list.
After that, it was just a waiting game, but I knew I didn't want to spend the next however many months waiting and not preparing myself for such a major purchase. So I used that time to set myself up financially. That's my biggest piece of advice, give yourself enough time to create some financial stability so that it doesn't feel like a mistake after you sign the papers. I was so worried about having retail guilt that I was determined to do everything I could to avoid it. Now I recognize that I am so fortunate to be living with my parents currently with limited cost of living expenses but I wanted to share what I did to give you some ideas if you're looking to start saving for a car.
Once my deposit was sent I redid my monthly budget and added a section for a car payment. Since I did not know the exact amount the car payment would be I used the Toyota finance calculator to create my best estimate. From there I budgeted that amount each month as my "car payment" even though the car hadn't arrived. I wanted to make sure I could continue to live comfortably and pay my current bills without added stress before signing papers and I knew that I could always get my deposit back if I realized it wasn't the right time! Also, a huge tip, make sure your deposits are refundable! Now, I wanted to make sure I could keep track of exactly how much I was saving and I did not want to accidentally spend any of the money I was putting away for my car, so I decided to open another bank account. Now, you can open whatever type of account you want but for me, I decided to open a checking account at a local credit union so I could have the option of refinancing my car loan with a credit union later on if the interest rates were better (definitely something I took my parents' advice on and not my own idea). From there I set up direct deposit amounts to come straight from my paychecks and now I don't even have to think about it I was automatically and still am automatically putting money into my car fund twice a month.
I was also very fortunate to work with great people every step of the way. It makes such a difference to enjoy who you work with when trying to navigate such a large purchase so make sure you're comfortable with who you're working with!
Overall, there is not a single part of my new RAV4 I don't like! Everything is perfect and I can say that it is even better than I imagined it would be!