Maybe instead of going on a vacation this year, you’ll be spending your savings on a new car.

What if you save enough on that purchase to allow you to indulge in a mini-road trip vacation? It can happen if you become a smarter car buyer.

Don’t get suckered in by that new car smell. As seductive as that aroma might be, you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible on a new car even if it’s an old car.

We’ve discussed that the best time to buy a new car is when next year’s models hit the showroom floor. That’s when you can get a better deal on this year’s model. Same car, still new. Now that you know the best time to buy, here are some tips to help you save big bucks on that new (or old) car purchase.

Tip #1: Set A Budget

How much can you afford to spend on your new car? Keep in mind, that you’ll still be paying for insurance, gas, and maintenance. Those are all numbers that should be part of your household budget. If you’ve gone without car payments for awhile, then you might have to rework some things to make sure you’re not over extended.

Tip #2: Set Up Financing

Every dealership offers auto financing. These aren’t always the best deals. Before heading out to the showroom, you might want to check with your bank or credit union. If they can set up a car loan at a good rate, then take it. At the very least, you’ll have a powerful bargaining tool. If your dealer can’t match the rates, then your choice is clear.

Tip #3: Do Your Homework

Many reputable auto websites will give you all the information you need about the car you want. They will even have the most current manufacturer’s list price. Print out this info and carry it with you at all times. Nothing puts fear into the heart of a car salesman than an informed customer.

Tip #4: Avoid The Add-Ons

Here’s what you really need for a car. It has to be reliable. It has to have a good sound system. It has to have a decent cup holder. Beyond that, you don’t need a lot of thrills. However, the dealers will try to sell you those thrills. It might only look like a couple of hundred dollars here and there, but it can all add up your final price, which will increase your finance charges. True story: I paid for a sunroof in my car. Been driving the thing for about six years. Used the sunroof once…

Tip #5: The Walk Away

No matter where you go to buy a car, it’s not the only place you can buy a car. In other words, there are plenty of other dealers who would welcome your business and treat you with respect. If you’re not feeling appreciated at the dealer, walk away. If you don’t like the final numbers, then walk away. You hold all the power. Use it!

Tip #6: Check The Car

You will obviously be test driving your potential car. However, if it is a certified pre-owned, a.k.a. used, then make sure you have a mechanic check it out before you sign any papers. That mechanic should be your mechanic. When buying a used car, you’re buying “as is.” Buyer beware! Now you’re ready to buy a new car.