Buying a car during holiday season

It is holiday season and all the car manufacturers are advertising with their huge discounts. This is like a competition, because all the dealers and brands want to increase their annual sales with best incentives. November and December are the final sales for the year and best times to buy a new car!

I created a simple spreadsheet to figure out which car trim should I choose and which financing option will be better for me. It is crucial to calculate the numbers before going to the dealer, by this way you will start the game one point a head!

Just fill in the green fields and you will be able to see monthly payments and how much many you will be losing by owning that new car.

First download the spreadsheet from here and then follow the steps to calculate the payments.

1. Learn and choose your car

Before starting to calculate the costs, first choose the car you like and want to buy. Then look at the trim levels and find about incentives on their web site.

2. Find your Trade-in value

If you are going to trade-in your car, you should know how much does it worth before going to the dealer. Easiest way to do this is go to and then search for your car. Choose "Trade-in to dealer" price and fill in "Very Good", "Good" and "Fair" condition prices into the spreadsheet. If you have no trade-in car, just leave these fields as they are.

3. Find the value of your new car

On manufacturer's or dealer's websites there are prices but you should not car about these prices. What you need to find is what others are paying for that car in your area! There is a web site for that, called and find your car with the right trim level. Add the "Target price" into your spreadsheet. If this is the average price of the car, you should not pay more than that right!

4. Calculate APR

Once you enter the value of your trade-in and new car, it is time to finance the balance difference. Go to manufacturer's web site and search for financing options. During holiday season, car brands have great deals for financing. If you want you can ask your own financial institution for APR values for 36, 48, 60 months. Enter those values into your spreadsheet.

5. Find depreciated value

Now, it is time to find what will your car worth once you pay off all the money that you owe. Again go to and this time choose 3, 4 and 5 years old model of your car and enter those into the spreadsheet. You should estimate what condition will your car be in after those years. I would recommend using "Trade-in to dealer" price with "Very Good" condition.

6. Analyzing the results

After completing all the steps, you can see the monthly car payments, how much money do you lose monthly by owning that car. You can easily see that why sales people ask about what is your monthly payment limit, because D12 cell in the spreadsheet can be very low but the total you are paying can be very large.

In conclusion, driving a new car is a lot of fun, and buying the car with a great price is much more fun. If you know your prices, you can even printout this spreadsheet before going to the store as a chart, it is much easier to negotiate. So as Warren Buffet says, "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get". Since the value is same you want to pay the right price. Happy holidays!!


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