Are you looking at buying a car but haven’t the first clue on where to start? We all shop differently. Some of us are bargain hunters while others of us shop with your eyes and tend to go for what we like rather than what we can actually afford. While there’s technically no right or wrong way to shop for a new car it is important to calculate how much you can afford on a car and then go out shopping rather than getting your heart set on something that will stretch your pocket. Luckily for us Wesbank is here to save the day with 5 tips on buying a new car.

1. Work out what kind of shopper you, so you can buy wisely:

· Value shopper – you want a quality deal at a good price.

· Image shopper – you want your car to match your image.

· Lifestyle shopper – you buy products that suit your lifestyle.

· Methodical shopper – the car-buying journey takes you a couple months, but you cover every base before you buy a car.

· Safety-conscious shopper – you look at the cars with the best safety features because you want your family to be safe on the road.

2. Let your budget do the driving!

The best time to buy is when you know you can comfortably afford the monthly instalments on your new car, as well as fuel and insurance. No matter what wheels you plan on financing, it is always good to shop around and find the car that fits into your budget. Don’t feel the pressure to buy a flashy car you can’t afford. Basically, let your budget do the buying and driving, not your heart. So set a budget and stick to it! If you’re not sure how to work out what you can afford then use Wesbank’s Purchase Price calculator to help you plan your car-buying journey.

3. Don’t dedicate all your disposable income to your car.

Once you have determined how much you can realistically spend, each month, you will then look at how you would like to structure your vehicle finance contract. Buyers can choose to repay a loan over a shorter amount of time, to pay less interest and get out of debt sooner, or to extend the contract to 60 or 72 months, to afford a more expensive car. It’s best to try and avoid this trap as Wesbank advises that it would be unwise to dedicate all your disposable income for such a long period of time. Don’t forget that monthly installments, insurance costs, and fuel are not guaranteed to remain the same price for the entire duration of your finance contract – leave yourself room to breathe and plan for emergencies and future expenses like tyres, services and more.

4. Consider the interest rate.

Don’t forget to factor in the interest rate when working out your budget. The prime interest rate is expected to rise slowly over the next few years, which will see monthly instalments increase for buyers who chose to use a linked interest rate on their contracts. The best way to minimise the amount repaid in interest is to finance a vehicle over a shorter term. Paying off loans as soon as possible is the best thing for a buyer’s budget.

“With a budget plotted out, and enough ‘fat’ built in for rising costs and emergencies, car buyers will be better equipped for the future,” says says Rudolf Mahoney, head of research at WesBank. “A little planning and some modesty will result in real savings, and better prepare consumers for one day owning their dream car.”