Admitting there is a problem is the first step towards solving it. That statement applies to so many things in life. Admitting I am an impulse buyer from candy bars to cars and everything in between was my first step towards solving for my overspending problem.
A week ago today I flipped my beloved blue truck (Ol’ Blue) and totaled her. The insurance company was kind and gave me what I felt was more than fair market price on my seven year old friend who had served me well. So I headed to the local Ford dealership to look for a replacement. Truck prices have gone up in the last seven years, so I turned my attention to the small SUVs.
Being the impulsive and impatient shopper that I am, of course I became attached to the first one I drove. A very nice reddish burgundy Ford Escape with the shiniest wheels I’ve ever seen and wired for sound unlike any vehicle I’ve ever owned. My first instinct was the same as seven years ago “Where do I sign to take this baby home?” However, this time I have a financial advisor to talk things over with.
Just telling the salesman I was going to talk things over with my advisor was a mood changer. Before I knew it, I was in the finance office with the salesman, finance manager and president of the dealership. The finance manager was on the computer, the president had out his calculator and the salesman was pacing the floor. A few key strokes and the selling price was almost $2000 less than the sticker price.
I drove the SUV over to his office and showed him the prices, rebates and interest rates the salesman had given me. His advice was to take the keys back and sleep on it and make the dealership win my business. Me? The impulsive shopper? Take the keys back and walk away?
It was difficult to keep a poker face and not put all my cards on the table when I handed the keys back to the sales guy. He asked how I liked the SUV and what my financial advisor thought of the numbers. I told him the SUV is nice, but my advisor wants to compare the numbers and do some more analysis and I would get back to him in two days.
Who knew negotiations were as easy as just walking away? The next day I received an email from the dealership saying they would throw in two years of oil changes and tire rotations. The afternoon of the second day I received a phone call and the salesman asked how he could win my business. I asked if there was any way to get the selling price down and he called back later with a reduction of $250.
I drove in and met my financial advisor at the dealership and asked him to do all the talking for me. He told them to give me the absolute lowest price or we would find an SUV somewhere else. Of course the first reply was “We are already below invoice.” But my advisor reminded the salesman that if the SUV didn’t leave his lot by the end of the month the dealership would have to pay another month of interest to Ford and the 2013 models are already arriving.
The salesman went to speak to the finance manager then asked us to come back to the office and talk with the finance manager who said “We are already cutting the price below invoice, but if $200 more will close the deal, we can do that. But nothing more.” My advisor and I stepped out into the hall to discuss and five minutes later I was buying a new vehicle for $450 less than their first offer plus free maintenance for the first two years.
You don’t need a financial advisor to get a great deal (although it certainly helped me). What you do need is patience to walk away from at least the first two offers. If the salesman knows you are serious about buying he will work to win your business. Don’t be afraid he is going to sell the car to someone else. Even if he does there are plenty of cars out there to choose from.