Financial Expert Gives Tax Refund Car Shopping Tips

Published 02/12 2014 09:06AM

Updated 02/12 2014 10:22AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) It's tax return season, and for some that tax return could mean a new car.

Financial planning specialist Andrew Zumwalt says go to a financial expert to prepare your return.

"Some stores and auto dealers will tempt you to bring in your return, or prepare your return for you and use that refund to purchase," Zumwalt warns. "It's a better idea to go somewhere where they focus solely on tax returns, get the refund, or find out what your entire return is, and then once you have the money in the bank, actually go and make that purchase."

And if it's a used car you're after, be smart about what you're looking at, and get it checked out by a mechanic.

"[A mechanic will] make sure everything is correct in the car, there aren't any major flaws, hadn't had any major repairs done that would damage the vehicle, make sure when your buying a used car you know what condition the car is in," Zumwalt said.

If it's a new car you're shopping for, experts say take your time before signing the dotted line.

"Don't just walk into one place and say I want to buy a car, and then talk to that one person about that car," Zumwalt said.  "Get multiple quotes from multiple dealers, or auto sellers, and compare."

For those using the tax return, Zumwalt recommends having a plan before going to the showroom.

First, consider alternate transportation - maybe you don't need a car after all.

Second, if you do want a vehicle, decide which kind it is you're looking for.

Third, decide how to buy it.

Fourth, consider your finances and how you'd finance the purchase.

Last, consider maintenance costs and the costs of insurance.

And in the information age, car shopping has gone digital.

Smart consumers are turning to their computers before ever making the trip to a car dealer.

"You might want negotiate the price over the Internet before you even step into a dealership," Zumwalt said. "So when you actually walk into a dealership you have the price in mind, and the dealership knows the price, and you're just there to sign the paperwork."

Careful driving can help reduce transportation costs.

Avoid fast braking and acceleration to conserve fuel.

You can save money with a properly maintained vehicle.

Routine oil changes and other maintenance can save you money in the long-term.

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