Adulting. Adulting can be scary, especially when you start talking loans, bills, and everything else your part time or grad job is trying to cover. My first big step into #adulting was moving out of home. Then shortly after realising how freaking much I needed my own car, my second big step, was actually buying my own car. I don’t know about you, but for me, with a car comes freedom – no harassing friends or family for lifts (going through Macca’s drive thru whenever you want with no judgement), or calculating your journey on translink – ah, weren’t those the days.

I’ll admit, when looking  into getting my first car, I felt like I was going in blind. I couldn’t afford to buy a car outright, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to look for in a  loan, or even, if there were hidden costs (the kind that your parents would always know) I would have no idea where to find them.

So, let’s start from the beginning.

1. What kind of car do you want to buy and can you afford it?

First off, start with a budget. What can you afford? To know what repayments you can afford, use the loan calculator and work backwards.

In 2013, my dream car was a probably a mini cooper. The only one I could afford was a used car that had almost clocked it itself, and had I bought it, would have probably lasted a solid month. I had to keep reminding myself – this is my first car. You’ll get to buy your dream car one day, but today, you broke girl, and you’re going to get a car that gets you safely from A to B. I learnt to drive on a Mazda, which I was familiar with and I felt safe driving it, so naturally, I went with the same make. Whether you’re looking at a brand new car or a used car, the NRMA has a checklist for you so you can feel comfortable with your choice.  Don’t buy a used car just because it’s cheap. If the car hasn’t been well maintained, it’s going to cost you a whole lot more later on. Click here for more information on buying a new vs an old car. From there, if you’re interested in a used car, you can do a car history check (online AND super easy!) and make sure the car has been in no serious accidents and/or doesn’t owe any money. Then, if you’re still not sold, you can organise a vehicle inspection. They will check everything from the seatbelts, to any noises or leaks, or any problems with the systems, and even the radio (very important).

2. Now that you’re feeling confident with your set of wheels, its time to talk money

The NRMA has a range of loans available, with competitive low fixed rates and flexible terms, keeping your repayments low and affordable. And guess what – there are no hidden or additional monthly account-keeping fees. Don’t even need to ask mum or dad – boom! Depending on your pay-run at work, you can lock in your payment when suits you best. I pay my car loan monthly. Whip out the loan calculator again and work what term you’re after by what monthly or fortnightly repayment you can afford, based on the total cost of the car. I went on a 5-year term and I’ve now got about 1.5 years left – woo! Having already worked out your maximum repayment amount and the car on your wishlist (and whether that’s new or used), you can now make the call and get the loan to suit your financial needs.

I’ll see you in the drive thru.

Flash back, circa December, 2014.

This post was created in collaboration with myNRMA.