A big step for anyone who has graduated from college is buying a car. Of course, many college students already own a car, but more than likely this car was given to them by their parents, was well-used already by other siblings or the parents themselves, and is probably old enough to sell out of the family. In other words, it's not a usually car that a newly graduated adult wants to drive to a job interview.

What recent graduates really need is a good, reliable car that is all their own. Owning and maintaining a car by yourself can be a source of pride. It can also really help your mobility, which is important if you want to be self-reliant. A new car gives you the opportunity to travel to and from potential jobs. Owning a car gives you the freedom of movement that you'll need to make it on your own.

But car-shopping can be a pretty stressful process for graduates. It involves doing research on the nearly infinite number of makes and models available to find what's right for you. It involves test-driving vehicles. It involves dealing with salesmen, who can often be intimidating. And it also involves spending a good bit of cash, which you may not be able to justify if you're struggling in your first few months on your own.

When out car-shopping, you have to really have a good understanding of what you need from a car. There are far too many options out there to go into car-shopping with only a vague idea of what you like and want in a car. If you go into car-shopping without a plan, then you run the risk of making some financial decisions that can negatively hurt you in the long run.

In fact, there are many more factors to consider than just the looks and price tag of the car. You also have to worry about insurance, whether the car is new or old, what the cost of upkeep is, how it will handle in your area's weather, how it will depreciate in value over the next five years, and how you feel in the car as you control it. If you keep in mind all of these considerations, then you'll be more likely to find the car that is right for you.

For more information on car shopping, check out these pages:

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