When my wife and I went car shopping to get ready for our little bambino, we knew what we were getting ourselves into. The games. The sleaze. The sheer cost and uncertainty of buying someone else’s problems.
But we did something few other people do: we made a plan.
Our car buying process actually started several years ago with us loading up our life insurance policies with cash surrender value. Rather than dumpin money into a savings account and then depleting it to buy a car (putting us back to $0 in savings and also a state of desperation and anxiety about future purchases and also long-term savings needs), we chose to save money through life insurance, where we can arrange it so as to never really deplete our savings, ever.
I think during the same time a few of our friends and family were taking out car loans (which, oddly enough, is proof people can afford to save money for this stuff but choose not to), but… instead of following suit, we were quietly saving up a bunch of moolah.
That put us in a position most people dare not dream of. Namely, we weren’t desperate for a vehicle and that completely and totally changed the car-buying experience. It eliminated every significant advantage a car dealer had over us as a car buyer.
You might not know anything about cars or how they work or any of the dirty tricks used car salesmen use to sell cars but… you don’t need to.
Aside from a simple checklist (and maybe a mechanic you trust), all you really need is the power and ability to say “no” and walk away from the deal with zero anxiety and zero neediness.
Which is exactly what we did multiple times… especially when the salesmen started pulling that “We have another buyer interested in this vehicle and he’s probably going to buy it!” nonsense.
Car salesmen use that line all the time in bait-and-switch setups and also to get you to make a decision now now now but for those with eyes to hear and ears to see, it’s a red flag. It’s actually a sign that the salesman is desperate to sell that vehicle. And in fact, when calling around to different dealerships, we caught several salesmen using this tactic and I simply said “OK. Why don’t you let the other guy test drive it and if the vehicle is still there tomorrow, I’ll come down and buy it from you.”
One of the salesman I did this to was totally caught off guard… he stuttered a bit before saying “uh.. OK”… and a few days later he left me a voicemail, “Hey David, you had an appointment to come down to the dealership and test drive this car but you never showed up. Are you still interested in the vehicle?”
I didn’t actually have an appointment with the salesman and I never bought a car from him. It was obvious he was just playing games (and probably hiding something about the vehicle, too).
None of this would have been possible if we:
- Didn’t have sufficient savings,
- Had to operate on a finite time table (banks tend to limit the time you are qualified for a car loan), and;
- Were desperate and needy for a new vehicle
But it actually goes a little bit deeper than that. Even if we had money sitting in a savings account, it would have been a little stressful because cashing in that savings and spending it means:
- Lost interest on said savings and;
- A sinking feeling of “starting over from nothing” to rebuild that savings.
Which often puts people into a state of anxiety… then they become needy and desperate to “make a good deal”, etc.
But with our life insurance policy, we weren’t in a position of draining our savings and starting over from scratch.
Anywho, reason I bring all this up is because I believe more people can put themselves into the same position we were in and stop getting taken advantage of due to their own neediness and desperation.
And not just by sleazy car salesmen, but by anyone you do business with.