How my first car loan experience was a piece of cake

After living in L.A. for two years without a car and utilizing the Metro day in and day out, I was ready to purchase a car of my own again and regain my independence.  And, before I continue, thank you Metro – you were wonderful during my time of need and I was never once late for my workday at Logix!  As I approached my car buying decision, it was clear that I had a few hurdles to overcome: I had only ever owned a used car that I bought outright for $3000 or less, I barely had any money to use as a down payment, I liked the idea of a car loan, but quite frankly, monthly car payments scared me, and what the heck would I purchase?

With these anxiety-worthy hurdles, I had two options – I could both face them and get more knowledgeable, making a positive move in my independent direction, or I could continue taking public transportation.  At this point, I was ready to bring it on!  So with that, I assigned my own timeline as to when all of this needed to happen.  And, in complete harmony with my personality, it needed to happen ASAP.

Getting Down to the Good Questions

What color of car can I see myself driving?  Tinted or untinted?  Fuzzy steering wheel cover?  Leather seats?  Built-in GPS?

As you can see, there are several questions to ask yourself when putting together your dream car; however, there are two important questions that I found helped ease me into the car-buying experience – How much of a car can I afford?  And, how much am I willing to pay? 

When going over my budget (which may or may not have been scribbled on a napkin), I realized that I could probably afford a monthly car payment of around $350.  Now, just because my napkin is saying I can afford that doesn’t mean I have to spend that!  In fact, once I factored in auto insurance quotes, registration, and the cost of gas, I decided that I would be more comfortable with no more than $250 per month.  Alright!  Great!  Next Step.

Using the Resources around You

Once I determined the maximum I wanted to spend per month, it was time to figure out more specifics regarding this purchase: What my budget for the car will be based off of the $250 per month, how much I will get approved for, what my interest rate will be, and where I should start looking?  This is where my credit union came in handy.  First, I checked out the Auto Payment Calculator located on the Logix website.  This calculator estimated how much of a vehicle I can afford based off of the amount of money I was able to put down and my desired monthly payment.

SmartLab auto calculator

According to the calculator prediction, my affordable car loan amount was $13,739.  It’s all starting to come to life!  Since I now knew how much of a loan to request, my next step was to contact a credit union loan officer and submit an application.  In all honesty, this was probably the easiest part of this process.  Actually, who am I kidding – the entire process was easy!  I’m excited to shop!   

After getting my approval, of around the predicted amount, I was referred over to Logix’s Auto Expert representative since I still had no idea what kind of car I wanted or where to shop for it.  All of that uncertainty was put to rest as I was asked simple questions that revolved around what was important to me (economical, automatic, mp3 compatibility...).  Little did I know that after that brief interview, I would be presented with options of listed used cars that fit my wants and needs and wouldn’t be required to step onto a dealer’s lot.  Within a week of narrowing down my options, I had found the winner!

The Icing on the CakeKay Car

As if my car buying experience hadn’t been smooth enough, my new car was actually delivered to my Logix branch!  Piece of cake, really.  Not only that, those fears I had about a monthly car payment?  Gone.  With all the options for making payments (automatic, online transfers, in branch), I really wish I had learned sooner that there was nothing to worry about.  With this car being the first big purchase of my adult life, I couldn’t help but grin ear to ear when handed my car keys – independence achieved!  

We’re curious to know:  What tools and resources have you used to make your car buying experience a smooth one? Join the conversation on Facebook!

Meet the blogger

Kayleen Kavanagh

Kayleen Kavanagh

Kay started with Logix in early 2009 and has held a few different member service roles. She enjoys sharing her positive learning experiences with hopes that we can all continue down the path of smarter banking.