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Tips For Married Couples Shopping For A Used Car

From deciding whether to spend Christmas at home or with the in-laws to purchasing a house with your future children in mind, married couples are faced with making many decisions together, no matter how minor or life-changing. When it comes time to purchasing your first vehicle as a married couple, you might get caught up in fighting about the make and model rather than dealing with the financial aspects of this costly purchase. Don’t wind up with a car you cannot afford or won’t meet both your needs and instead, here are a few tips to help you find a used vehicle from a site like you’ll both love:

How Is Your Credit?

Before you create a budget or even visit your first dealership, it’s important to determine which strategy will help you snag the price and interest rate. Your joint income, job history and monthly debt will all be considered by the lender when making a final decision about the loan, but ultimately, your credit history will make or break your ability to buy a car.

If you both have an impeccable credit history, consider filling out a joint application. Your combined incomes and positive credit history will help you secure a larger loan and better interest rate.

However, if only one of you has a solid credit history, consider filing a single loan application, instead. Your spouse’s undesirable credit history could result in a smaller loan amount, higher interest rate or worse, being denied for the loan all-together.

Figure Out Your Finances

Once you’ve reviewed both your credit scores and history, it’s time to determine just how much you an afford to spend on your used vehicle. Remember, just because you’re living comfortably now and can afford a larger monthly payment, your circumstances and family size could change relatively quickly, leaving you with a loan you cannot afford.

Here are a few simple tips to help you determine just how much you can afford to spend every month on your used car payment:

  • Don’t Forget the Down Payment – Many dealerships will offer individuals or couples with excellent credit the opportunity purchase a vehicle with no down payment. While this might seem reasonable in the short-term, Consumer Reports still recommends putting down as much money as you can afford. Even if it’s only five to ten percent of the loan, even a small down payment will help lower your monthly car payments.

  • A Monthly Payment You Can Actually Afford – Purchasing an amazing used car that will be the envy of your friends is enticing, but not worth going into serious debt. This is why Edmunds urges buyers to spend no more than 20 percent of their monthly income on a car payment.

  • The Length Of Your Loan – If you’re planning to keep your used car for several years, a 60, 72 or even 84-month loan is a better option. However, if you can afford to do so, it’s best to pay off your car in less time. The monthly payment will be larger, but you’ll ultimately pass less money in interest over the life of the loan.

Who Is the Real Owner?

Finally, while determining how much you can afford to spend every month on your car payment, it’s important to keep one simple question in mind: Who will spend the most time behind the wheel?

If the spouse who is in charge of taking the kids to school or getting the weekly groceries will be the main driver, then consider purchasing a more reliable, larger vehicle to accommodate the kids, car seats and brown paper bags.

However, if the vehicle will be used to mainly commute back and forth to work, a smaller, more fuel-efficient model would be the better choice.

Like most decisions made in a marriage, purchasing your first used car as a couple will result in many heated discussions, compromises and hours spent deciding whether to stay sensible and buy a minivan, or splurge on that cute convertible. However, if you stick to the budget and purchase a vehicle you can both enjoy, this experience could wind-up actually being fun!

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