Financial Readiness

Buying a Car

How Much to Spend: Ideally, you should put down at least 20%, and finance the rest for no more than 4-5 years. If possible, you should spend no more than 10% of your gross income on transportation costs (including gas, insurance, etc.).

New vs. Used: Autos typically lose about 45% of their value during the first three years. Buying new allows you to pick the exact car that you want and be the first to drive it. Buying used will save you a lot of money. Buying a less expensive car can also save you on auto insurance.

Zero Percent Down: Although it's tempting, it can be very risky. If you must sell your car within the first year or two for any reason (i.e. loss of job), you may find that you owe more than you car is worth. 

Auto Insurance

Shop Around: You can change companies (or your policy) at any time – you don’t have to wait until your policy is over. Check out North Carolina’s Department of Insurance (or other state if you’re moving) at www.ncdoi.com, and look at the complaint ratios for every insurance company in NC.

Liability Coverage: When you are at fault, this covers injury to people other than yourself and damage to someone else’s property (car, structure, road signs). You are required to have a minimum amount of liability insurance; beyond that it’s up to you. North Carolina requires a minimum of $30,000 for bodily injury per person $60,000 for bodily injury in total, and $25,000 for property damage. Keep in mind that these numbers are the total amount you will receive. For example; if you total a brand new Mercedes worth $70,000, you could get personally sued for the remaining balance of $45,000.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Liability: When you are not at fault, but the other driver has too little or no insurance, this covers your medical expenses and lost wages. (For some companies, this also covers your property.)

Comprehensive and Collision: Regardless of who is at fault, Collision covers your car during a driving accident and Comprehensive covers non-collision damage. For each, you pre-select a deductible amount that you will pay out of pocket for each claim and your insurance company pays for the remaining damage. The higher the deductible, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you drive an older car, this coverage may not be worth the expense.

Medical Payments: Regardless of who is at fault, this covers your medical expenses. Most people opt out of this because these expenses are already covered by their health insurance.


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