Buy a used car with cash and the rest of your money woes will quickly fade. Life without a car payment is amazing. Here’s my journey of buying a used car with cash. This is part one of a series!
My fanny pack had thousands of dollars cash in it as I walked into the car dealership. If that’s not a rush, then I dunno what is.
I sold everything I owned and just finished my sabbatical in Hawaii. Now I was on a mission to find a car. I felt very secretive. The used car salesman probably thought I was rocking a fanny pack full of bubble gum, sunglasses, and lip balm.
No sir. Not me, I was packin cash.
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Any who, after diligently searching online, I finally find the one! It was my dream car. Or so I thought. The car was confirmed to be available on the lot and the Carfax was simply perfection: a single owner, no accidents. I just had to negotiate down the price. With thousands of dollars secretly around my waste, it was practically a done deal.
In the off-chance someone guessed that I had thousands of dollars on me, I was ready-to go with my Krav Maga self-defense moves. Krav Maga is the form of martial arts that’s used by the Israeli military. Yep, I know Krav and can bust out a can of whoop a** whenever necessary.
Car Buying 101: dealerships make the most money on used cars.
You’d think that new car sales are where it’s at, but dealerships make more money on used car sales. Why? Well if you’ve ever traded-in a car, you’ll understand. People often come in desperate for a new car and eagerly want to get rid of their previous car.
Dealerships give ridiculously low offers for trade-ins.
My offer was $2,500 lower (half as much) than what I ended up getting from a private buyer. Add in how much they mark-up the used car sales price because, “it’s from the dealership.” Somehow people feel more secure in purchasing from a money-making corporation than a person.
Yes, I get it dealerships do offer warranties and free car history reports, but we’re talking they rake in thousands of dollars more than what they paid for.
Used cars at a dealership make the perfect storm for a high-margin sale.
Dealerships pay less and earn more. On Cargurus.com I looked up the exact make, model, year, and mileage to get the trade-in value and compared it to the dealership sales price. The markup of the specific car I was looking at was 33%. Used cars are normally marked up between 25-45%!!
There’s a lot of wiggle room for negotiation with used cars.
I got the keys to do a test drive and then popped the hood to check the engine with the car running. WTF do I know about engines? Practically nothing. Poppin’ the hood just seemed like the logical thing to do. In my mind, not doing it would be imprudent, right?! LOL.
I knew there were no major issues from the clean Carfax report and listened to the sound of the engine and checked to see if the coolant was leaking or something was noticeably off. I know a teeny tiny bit about cars, mainly because my previous one broke. so. dang. much. My take on the infamous, “German Engineering,” is it’s expensive AF to repair.
It was all good under the hood.
I walked back into the dealership with the salesman and with my game face on. I even wore my sunglasses inside the building to be like the poker players hiding their eyes.
I’m sure I looked about as ridiculous as it sounds. I was wearing a bright pink one-piece jumpsuit, heels, a polka dotted fanny pack, and had my sunglasses on inside. Can we say geekin’ out? YAAS. That’s how I roll these days. No shame. I am who I am: a finance geek.
I believe in negotiating like a woman.
That means, they have no freakin’ idea you’re even negotiating. People like doing business with people who are nice. It’s as easy as that. It helps to make it a point to be nice and down-to-earth. I also spoke with confidence and was an informed/educated buyer.
The car salesperson asked me what I thought about the car. I told him I liked it a lot and asked a few follow-up questions. Then I straight-up asked, “What’s the best price you can do?”
He said that the price listed was the best they could do.
I told him that I knew the trade-in value was $XZY, which was thousands below the asking price. He didn’t even budge. I just continued to smile with an awkward long silence. See, there’s the unwritten rule in negotiating: whoever speaks next, looses.
Most people don’t like silence, so they’ll blurt out information or budge too soon. They’ll say, “Ok I’ll take it.” When they really aren’t ready to take that price.
He finnnnnally asked me again, “So what are you thinking?”
Smiling, I pleasantly told him again that I wanted to know the best price he could offer.
This time he said, “If I can get you one-hundred or so off, would you be happy?”
I didn’t say anything. My brain was processing what he was saying; I knew for certain there was a margin of over $4,000. He’s offering $100 off? WTF?! He got up to, “Ask his manager.”
Then he came back with a break-down of the what they paid out to the previous owner. It had to be an outright lie. The price on the sheet was seriously over $2,000 more than the online actual trade-in value. I’ve NEVER heard of a dealership that pays significantly more than the actual value.
The extraordinarily high trade-in value they supposedly paid out on the car was B.S. indicator number one.
Next up, he listed two mysterious charges that the dealer paid for to service the car before selling it. The charges were around $700 each. “It’s for the oil change that the dealership did to prepare the car.”
Well, that’s one hell of an oil change and B.S. indicator number two.
He then shook his head and said, “See there really is no wiggle room. We’ll give $200 off though to make you happy.”
Oh, the nerve, to tell me there is NO room for negotiation. I was outraged! EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE.
Do I have STUPID written on my head?
Did he really think I believed they paid $2,000 more than the listed trade-in price? Nope! I didn’t believe it for a second.
I continued to smile and attempt to remain calm. Then, I unzipped my fanny pack and attempted to pull the same move that was pulled on me when I sold my car. The guy that bought my car opened his fist and said, “This is all I have.”
I laid the cash on his desk and told him how much I’d buy the car for.
He laughed at me (uh, can we say #rude) and said it wasn’t possible. I continued to smile and nod. It took all the self-control I had to not bust out my Krav Maga moves on this guy! After what seemed like an eternity he then said, “We can only take $200 off.”
I thanked him, grabbed my cash, and took me and my fanny pack elsewhere! Next, I’ll share how I purchased a used car with cash that I’m stoked to be driving now. Here’s part two of how I bought a car with cash.
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