Paying for transportation

Public transportation and ride-sharing can get you where you need to go while you’re in college – but let’s face it, public transportation in Florida isn’t quite at the level of New York or Chicago. If you live in the Sunshine State, sooner or later you’re going to need your own wheels.

When it’s time, figure out how much car you need. What will you use the vehicle for? If you’re driving to work, will you be carpooling? If so, how many passengers should it hold? How far will you be driving? Is great gas mileage important? Do you need cargo room? Should you consider an SUV or a pickup truck? Are you planning to start a family soon? If so, now is probably not the time for that two-seater sports car. Figure out how much car you need.

Second, figure out how much car you can afford. What is your comfortable dollar amount for monthly payments? Check with your financial institution about pre-approval for an auto loan, including the interest rate, number of months of payments, and the total amount you’ll be paying. That will help you narrow your search. Check rates with a couple of other lenders, too. Ask about leasing. The monthly payments are usually less, but you must turn the vehicle back in at the end of the term, and sometimes there are additional fees if you exceed the agreed-upon mileage or the vehicle has been damaged.

New or used? Interest rates are lower for new vehicles but depreciation begins the moment you drive it off the lot. Decide what works best for you. The same goes for an extended warranty. Does it cover routine maintenance as well as when things break or wear out? Do your math.

Car loan calculator

Finally, factor in the cost of auto insurance. It’s required, but it’s also smart. Be MoneyWise.

When you decide to Drive Green, you qualify to receive an auto loan rate as low as 3.0% APR that will spare the planet and your wallet, depending on your credit score.  “Green Cars” are vehicles with a combined EPA rating of 28 MPG or greater or electric vehicles. Visit under the U.S. Department of Energy for listings of qualified vehicles.

Buying a car is the first major purchase for many people, particularly young adults. If you’re new to the credit and financing world, pump the brakes and pull over to check out these six tips you should know before buying your first car.

Six Tips for First-Time Car Buyers

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