Q: For as long as I've been alive, I've never bought a car. My husband always took care of it, but he passed away several years ago.
My current car has lasted me a long time but is on its last legs.
I'm afraid to even go into a car dealership. I don't know a lot about cars and know that some dealerships are very aggressive when trying to sell.
How should I go about buying a car?
A. Stress about buying a car knows no gender. There are so many car models and pricing options that it's confusing and hard to know where to start.
First, decide on your budget. That will narrow your field of choices significantly. Also, research your car's value, and then check with the dealer to see if you can trade in your current car. Some will give you an offer, which helps with the cost of a new one.
While price is a major factor, most seniors' main worry is whether or not their car is safe. New cars have more safety features like automatic emergency braking and other accident-avoidance systems. Kelley Blue Book and many other sources report the best safety ratings for current models.
Other factors include reliability, dealership reputation, service options, loaners, insurance cost and mileage.
One of the most stressful things about buying a car is how variable the pricing seems. Different dealerships often list the same car at different prices. But you might be able to work the system to your advantage.
When you've figured out your ideal car, shop around at local dealerships if possible. Ask the dealers what they're offering, and don't be afraid to say no! Doing your research before going will help you avoid being sold on something you don't want.
The end of the month can be the best time to buy. Dealerships run on sales quotas and commissions measured at the end of the month, so they'll probably negotiate if the dealer wants to boost its numbers.
Don't be afraid to learn and grow! -- Emma, Doug's granddaughter
PUTTING PEN TO PAPER
Q: One of my new year's resolutions this year was to start a journal. I see a lot of people I admire doing it, and I always hear how much they love it.
I'm genuinely trying, but I have no idea what to write.
What's the benefit of this, anyway?
A: Journaling is a fantastic exercise for digesting your day and experiences.
Some people use it like meditation. It can be invaluable to set aside a time period every day to just think and write.
Many writers like writing because it tells them what they think! It may seem strange, because you'd assume that you know yourself, right? But committing your thoughts to paper makes you think twice. Oftentimes what ends up on the paper doesn't seem quite right. But we can go a step further and examine what's written.
It's also interesting to look back at your old journal entries. Even in old age, it's amazing to see how much we change in a year.
If you feel stuck, consider giving yourself a prompt. Was there something you heard about on a particular day that you disagreed with? Think about why, and start writing. What's going on in your life, and how does it affect you?
Journaling is as valuable as you make it. Investing the time and effort will pay off. -- Doug
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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