Buying a new car is more than simply a financial responsibility, it’s a long-term investment.  Children grow up in our cars.  Vacations and priceless memories are created in cars.  We trust our lives based upon the safety features and ratings of our cars, not to mention the vast amount of time each of us spend in our vehicles each year.  Your vehicle is one of the most important purchases you make in your life.  To make a thoroughly educated decision on what vehicle to purchase when the time comes, you must ask yourself a few simple questions.  


What Size Car?


Choosing the size of your vehicle may not be quite as easy as it seems.  You should consider the fact that your vehicle will probably be around for five to ten years easily.  What changes might life throw at you in that amount of time?  Do you plan on having children?  Do you have older children that may be driving soon?  Do your children already have their own vehicles?  See how this one “simple” question can be easy compounded into several?  The bottom line is, you need to consider your life’s path before making such a large investment.  


Hybrid vs Standard


When tossing around the idea of hybrid car vs it’s standard counterpart, you should thoroughly compare the two vehicles.  When hybrids first came out, the government offered somewhat of a large kick-back on your taxes.  They then began to phase that benefit out until they no longer offer a refund on hybrid vehicles.  You will want to take this into account when researching prices.  


Also, make sure to compare their claimed mileage, and if you have the opportunity, drive both the standard and the hybrid.  Test the gas mileage for yourself.  Don’t just trust the sticker on the side window.  Just because a hybrid might be better for the environment, doesn’t mean it is the best choice for you and your family.  


What Can You “Comfortably” Afford?


Comfortable would have to be the key word here.  You should never pay more than a quarter of your monthly income for a vehicle payment.  The safest way to purchase a new vehicle would be in cash, but not many of us have the dedication or ability to do such a thing.  Do NOT buy a new vehicle knowing that you can only “swing” that payment each month.  You are only setting yourself up for failure.  Purchasing a new car properly and without missed payments can be such a beautiful addition to your credit score.  Paying your vehicle off in full will also open up several options when it comes to the question, “what now?”  You could sell it.  You could pass it on to your kids.  You could trade it at dealership, and get credit towards a new car.  A sturdy vehicle is a strong investment.  Don’t make your decisions lightly.