Is there anything more exhilarating than that “new car” smell? Even if you’ve never purchased a new car, you know what I’m talking about. One whiff of that unmistakable odor and BOOM – you want a new car.

A few weeks ago I found myself struggling with this very dilemma. My current vehicle (a 2002 Chrysler minivan) is perfectly fine, but every fiber of my being wants to upgrade. My inner car shopper wants something more stylish and sporty – something a little more “me.”

Instead of resisting the urge, I just jumped right in. I started trolling websites (AutoSmart, Consumer Reports, Auto Trader) and before I knew it, I had a shiny new car picked out. My excitement knew no bounds!

Before this shiny gem could sit in my driveway though, I’d need an auto loan. Even though rates are excellent, my excitement took a hit when I looked up what my monthly payment would be.

You see, I’ve been working on getting my finances under control. I’ve learned to budget, I’ve started saving and I’m working on paying down my debt. All of a sudden, the thought of taking on more debt was not so appealing- regardless of how badly I wanted those heated seats. 

Yes, my current vehicle is missing the luxury items I want (navigation, Bluetooth and those coveted heated seats), but I also don’t have a car payment. Not to mention my dirt-cheap insurance and my tag only costs $44 each year. 

So what’s a girl to do? How can I be financially responsible, but still have the car of my dreams? After careful consideration, I’ve decided to do the following:

  1. Postpone my car purchase for at least six months. There’s no need to rush into a large purchase.
  2. During my six-month hiatus, I’m making a car payment to myself. This will help me to determine if I can truly afford a monthly payment.
  3. After the six months, if I decide to move forward with my purchase, I’ll have a nice down payment with the money I’ve saved.

Regardless of what happens – current car versus new car – I know I’ve made a financially smart decision and won’t have buyer’s remorse from making an impulse decision.