I was virtually raised in an automobile dealership. For this reason I’ve never had to purchase a new car. That is until my husband needed to replace his truck last year. I have on the other hand, sold tens of thousands of vehicles as well as assist hundreds make a purchase. It is not enjoyable but it ought to be. Instead people are bombarded with options, product reviews, thoughts and opinions and then they have to negotiate. Insane city! There is something to be said for keep it simple stupid.

If I were to buy a car today I would personally do the following:

1. Compose a list of needs. These are items that you can’t live without, in order of importance. If not exceeding a particular monthly payment is the number one priority then put it there and keep it there. If having AWD is your number one on account of your driveway in the winter than remain true to that need.

2. Compose a list of wants. Be mindful that you do not get the two columns confused, it’s tempting. For example, you may want an upgraded stereo with a subwoofer, but do you need it? A friend recently bought an SUV and he determined that he had to have a navigation system because he is always on the road for work. He sacrificed his first choice in color (want) since there wasn’t one available with the navigation. Wants and needs, extremely important.

3. Compose a list of automobiles that interest you and perform your due diligence online. Use a resource such as AutoTrader to compare and contrast vehicles.

4. Remain objective when researching. Simply because you are in love with the Porsche, if your budgets $30,000 then get real. If you carry out the research and it doesn’t comply with your needs remove it from the list!

5. Flex. If you have to have a sunroof but can’t afford it maybe you should consider a Certified Pre-Owned.

6. Once you have your list of vehicles whittle it down to 2 or 3. If you have a Honda Fit and a Nissan Murano then there’s a problem with the list. Either that or you are the one percent who is able to buy on a whim. In which case you probably don’t need my advice.

7. Test drive and move on. The salesperson won’t like it but that’s okay. Let them know in advance you’re choosing between a few vehicles. Tell them your time frame. Drive the automobile and get a good sense of it. Make sure the salesman goes over the features and benefits even if you believe you know them. Do not rely on the accuracy of manufacturer websites. It may lead you to believe that there is equipment on a certain model but doesn’t disclose that it is only available on certain trim levels. And get the price and financing options even if you intend on paying cash. It’s common for manufacturers to incentivize the customer to finance with them. If they’re going to save you $2000 to finance then do it! It is a simple interest loan meaning that there’s no penalty to prepayment.

8. Don’t feel guilty about not purchasing right that second. But I implore you, on behalf of all salesman out there working to make a living, and there are good ones, do not go into a dealership when you are not making the decision inside of 30 days or at worst two months. When a salesperson hears, “I’m not buying till next year” he hears, “don’t even bother”. Car sales is a today business. Besides, the vehicle that you are looking at may no longer be available in a years time, incentives will have most likely changed not to mention the salesman will not be too eager to show you everything that comes with the car.

9. Last but not least, when you have made your final decision, commit. You should have some sense of excitement knowing that you made an intelligent, well researched purchase. All you can do at this point is shut up and drive.