Buying a car for medical school is a big deal. The decision we make when purchasing a car will stick with you for years. It can be scary to know if you are making the right decision during a time when you are most financially vulnerable.
Cars can be one of the more frustrating things we own. They are expensive, they lose their value with time, and they can be a hassle to maintain. Nevertheless, we do need them to function in society.
Here are 5 things to think about if you are contemplating buying a car for medical school.
1) Remember Where You Are Financially
It’s easy to get away from ourselves when we purchase a new car. When you are at the dealership things can start to feel like you are in a candy shop.
Even if you are not a car enthusiast, it can still get really tempting to start loading up your new vehicle with every option available.
It’s times like these that we need to take control and remind ourselves where we are financially.
Remember, you are a STUDENT. This is not the time to find the car of your dreams. That can come later. This is the time to purchase a practical, new vehicle that included the bare minimum you need to get from point A to point B.
By coming to terms with the fact that a fancy and loaded car is for the future version of you, this will allow you to make a purchase appropriate for your situation.
2) Repair Your Current Car Only If It Makes Sense Financially
It’s possible that you might have a car that is in rough shape. In order to save money, you might be debating on if you should make the necessary repairs instead of purchasing a new car.
Before you commit to making the necessary repairs, be sure to run the numbers. Sometimes it might be more financially practical to sell the car and purchase a new one.
Another thing to think about is the likelihood of other problems popping up. If the car is getting towards the end of its life, you may be pouring your money into a lost cause.
Be sure to really look at the state of the car and make a decision whether or not it’s worth it to fix your car.
3) Don’t Buy A Brand New Car
Cars are often one of the worst things you can buy brand new. It is no exaggeration that the value of the car immediately depreciates upon driving it off the lot.
Sure, new cars are great in that you can be sure that the car hasn’t been abused before you got your hands on it. But is that peace of mind worth the depreciation?
That said, you can absolutely find the same car that is one or two years old in close to brand new shape.
Buying a gently used car can save you thousands in depreciation. This is a much better option for a medical student.
4) Try To Avoid Leasing A Car
Leasing a car can be a good option for an individual who can afford and would like to trade-in for a fresh new vehicle every couple of years. Unfortunately, this does not describe the average medical student.
Leasing can absolutely decrease your monthly payments, but the cost of owning a lease rarely beats the cost of owning a solid pre-owned vehicle.
Leasing often requires a down payment that you could have otherwise used to buy a vehicle outright. In addition, the monthly payments you make do not build any equity in the car.
By leasing a vehicle, you are essentially renting a car. The cost of a lease will almost always outweigh the cost of owning one.
5) Ultimately, Try To Find A Decent Used Car
In the end, you need to make the decision that suits you best. When it comes to buying a car for medical school, it is my opinion that you should be as practical as possible.
Shopping around, you will find that there are many great used vehicles on the market. These cars often are discounted significantly and can be in like-new condition.
If you have a friend who is a mechanic, have that person come help make sure that the car is indeed in tip-top shape.
Buying a used car in good condition can save you thousands of dollars while providing you a means of transportation for many years to come.
If you want to learn more about managing your personal finances during medical school and residency, sign up to receive a free copy of The Investing Resident financial handbook.
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