Never let them see you BleedThe World is Not Enough
When you talk to a salesperson, they'll often ask what you're willing to spend - usually in terms of a monthly payment. Before you go into the conversation, figure out what you could comfortably afford, then cut it by 25%. In our case, that meant saying we're willing to spend $300 a month when we were actually targeting $400 per month.
For ten minutes or so the salespeople wrangled the numbers for us, trying to pitch various loan lengths or downpayment options. We didn't budge from our target number.
I want you to take great care of this equipment. There are one or two rather special accessories...
The Spy Who Loved Me
Salespeople like to talk in terms of a 'monthly payment' because it makes large expenses seem small. When you're looking at a $15,000 purchase, adding a $400 trailer hitch won't make a big dent in the monthly payment - it might just be an additional $7.
Dealerships make a TON of money this way. They know you're in a buying mood, and they want to throw as much stuff at you as possible. Don't let yourself get stuck thinking "I'm already spending a lot, what's a little more?" Look into every expense and decide whether it's really necessary.
Always have an Escape Plan
The World is Not Enough
Salespeople hate to see you walk out the door. After we refused to budge from our target, we began preparing to leave. As we said "thanks for your time", the salespeople suddenly discovered that they could give us an additional $500 for our trade-in, and could cut $500 from the cost of the van we were considering purchasing. BAM - $1,000 just for threatening to leave.
Try to be a little less than your frivolous self, 007
Buying a car is a hugely expensive commitment. Cars are a horrible investment (we bought a used, low mileage 2012 sedan a couple of years ago and still owe more on it than it's worth).
Car salespeople do their best to make you forget that you are absolutely entitled to leave without spending any money at all. You do not owe them anything, and you especially do not owe them a five-figure commitment.
Even with the $1,000 cut the dealership took, we decided we still weren't quite ready to pull the trigger on a new vehicle. We walked.
The time you spend is not "wasted" if you don't buy a car. Thinking about buying a car, researching cars, or shopping for a car do not mean you actually have to buy a car.