Buying your very first car is an exciting milestone, but one that is often overshadowed by the stress of financing. Choosing and purchasing your new car doesn't have to be a struggle, though. Follow these helpful hints and you'll be well on your way to the feel-good freedom that can only come from your very own ride.

  • First, the fun part. Picture the car of your dreams. Then ask yourself: What do you really need from your car? How often will you use it and what kinds of special features might you want? Think about year-round weather conditions in your area. Consider your daily habits. Try to be realistic, but enjoy yourself too.
  • Now, get an idea of your budget. While a loan can be a big help, you also want to establish what feels comfortable to you. How much are you willing to spend on a car in the first place? There are various ways to calculate this, but people tend to spend between 10% and 50% of their yearly income on a car. If you need a car, but you don't care about much beyond getting from one place to another, you'll want to stick closer to the 10% side. If owning a shiny new ride is your reason to live, you're closer to 50%. Most people fall somewhere in between. For example, if you make $35,000 per year and you decide 20% of your income sounds right, you'll be spending $7,000. The same goes for loan and car payments - you probably don't want to be spending much more than a quarter of your monthly income on debt payments. So, make sure your bank account can handle adding a monthly car payment to your existing bills.
  • Then for the research. Once you have an idea of your ideal vehicle, take a look at pricing. Check out both new and used models in various locations. Be sure to consult pricing standards for particular models as you go along. The Kelley Blue Book is a wonderful and respected resource for this. As potential cost becomes clearer, determine how closely your dreams and your budget align. If they're not so close, make adjustments until you are looking at cars that are within your price range.
  • This is where we come in. Columbia Bank can help you finance the purchase of the car that's right for you. Our auto loans offer up to 100% financing for new automobiles, and up to 80% financing for used cars. Or, you might even consider a home equity loan, if that is an option for you.

Learn more about how a loan from Columbia Bank can help you with your automobile purchase by visiting the branch nearest you. You can also check out our current auto loan rates, or contact a customer service representative with any questions you might have: (800) 522-4167, Monday-Friday 7:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. (EST) and Saturday 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. (EST).