The best time of year to buy a car for 2018

Purchasing during the best time of year to buy a car can mean thousands of dollars in savings. Find out when it is before heading to the dealer.

Ramit Sethi

Last week, I gave you the exact systems to help you negotiate lower car insurance rates. Now, I want to talk about another aspect of buying a car that many don’t consider: the best time of year to buy a car.

People get so caught up in the exciting parts of buying a car (that don’t matter), like:

  • The color of the car
  • The sound system it’s going to have
  • The rims they want to put on it (the only correct answer is spinners)

…that they don’t stop to consider the things that could end up saving them THOUSANDS of dollars when they actually make a purchase.

Of course, there are certain cases where you need a new car sooner rather than later. That’s fine. We have systems in place to help you make more money fast too.

But if buying a car isn’t quite that urgent and you’re willing to exercise some patience (and you will because you’re a Top Performer), then waiting a few months can save you more than if you just raced off to the dealership tomorrow.

So what is the best time of year to buy a car? The answer is surprisingly simple as long as you understand car salespeople.

The best time of year to buy a car (aka the thing salespeople don’t want to tell you)


That’s it.

What? Were you expecting more? Okay, fine. I guess I’ll explain.

To understand why December is the absolute best time to buy a car, you need to first understand the process and mentality of the humble car salesmen.

Like any other salespeople, they have quotas. A LOT of quotas. They often come in the shape of monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals for the number of cars they have to hit.

This means that your car purchase could determine the difference between their dealership hitting their sales goal and the salesperson receiving a nice annual bonus or…well, not doing those things.

That’s why December (more specifically, the last week of the month) is the best time of year to buy a car. To take it a step further, you should see if you can negotiate a car deal on New Year’s Eve.

According to TrueCar, you can actually end up saving up to 8.3% off the price of a new car if you visit the dealership on New Year’s Eve instead of any other day. This is because this is the last day a dealer has in order to make both their quarterly AND yearly goals. As such, they have a fat bonus on the line so they want to get the cars out the door as soon as possible.

Let’s say you were looking at a nice used car going for about $20,000. If you went in on New Year’s Eve, you stand to slash $1,660 just because you went in on that day alone. Imagine what you could earn if you compounded it with great negotiation tactics.

Bonus: Want more advice on how to improve your finances? Check out my Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance.

What if I can’t wait for December to buy a car?

Sometimes, you just need the car sooner rather than later. If this is the case, I’d at the very least buy in the last week of the month (do it on the last day if you can).

According to Mike Rabkin, owner and founder of From Car to Finish, the end of the month is great due to the aforementioned quotas that car salespeople have to hit.

“When a vehicle needs help selling, the end of the month is a good time to buy if negotiating the vehicle yourself,” he says. “Because sales managers at dealerships have a monthly quota to hit and get compensated on whether they hit it or not.”

Keep this fact in mind when you’re entering the negotiation process.

My local dealership is having a Labor Day/Memorial Day/4th of July/Hanukkah blowout sale. Is this a scam?

While those huge blowout sale days might seem more like slick advertising than anything else, they actually offer solid savings if you choose to buy then.

According to, many car companies offer cash-back deals and good financing for holiday weekends — which allows the dealers to take advantage and try to lure you in to buy a car with sales.

So instead of heading to your buddy’s BBQ for Labor Day weekend, you might want to make a trip down to the car dealer to see what sweet deals you can snag. Then, of course, go to the BBQ after in your new ride.

The best day of the week to buy a car

If you want to further optimize your savings on a car purchase, buy your car on a Monday.

Most people do their car shopping on the weekend. Not many think about going to a car dealership in the middle of a Monday ready to negotiate.

On average, people save up to .61% more when buying a car on a Monday than Sunday (the worst day of the week to buy a car). This could be chalked up to the fact that EVERYONE goes to buy a car on Sunday.

Check out the chart below to see the average savings on the market price of a car by day.
















BTW, New Year’s Eve is on a Monday in the years 2018, 2057, and 2063.

The dos and don’ts for purchasing a car

If you want to maximize your savings even more, there are a number of things that you should do (and a whole lot you should avoid) when it comes to purchasing a car.

DO buy a good car that’ll last you at least 10 years

Many people — especially you younger folks reading this — are going to want to prioritize the way a car looks over anything else. Instead, you should be focusing on getting a good car that you will be able to drive for a while (preferably around 10 years).

Cars are long-term investments, people!! This isn’t like a pair of shoes where you’re just going to wear them for a year or two before getting a new pair. And like a pair of shoes, a car only gets worse and less valuable over time. Here’s a complicated graph explaining this.

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So look for a good reliable car and definitely don’t do what this reader tried doing.

DO investigate recent graduate incentives

A lot of car dealerships and automakers have fantastic programs for first-time car buyers fresh out of college. These incentives often come in the form of great rebates or special financing for new grads with good credit.

Two ways to find these deals:

  1. Google it. This should really be the first step to anything. Do a simple Google search for recent-graduate car incentive program. Actually, I’ll just do it for you.
  2. Ask the dealer. When you’re negotiating with your dealership, be sure to ask them what they offer in the way of new graduate car incentives.

DON’T assume you have to buy a used car

Buying used isn’t the only way to save money on a car. Over the long term, a new car might actually end up saving you money if you:

  1. Pick the right new car
  2. Negotiate a low price
  3. Drive it for a long time

I’d rather you get a new car that’s reliable than purchasing a used car that’ll break down sooner.

DON’T stretch your budget for a car

Set a realistic goal budget for your car and don’t go over it. Other expenses will come up — maybe car related, maybe not. You don’t want to end up struggling because you can’t afford your monthly car payment.

You don’t have to worry about stretching, though, if you have one thing in place: A Conscious Spending Plan.

Bonus: Want more advice on how to improve your finances? Check out my Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance.

Buy the car of your dreams with conscious spending

Though heading to the dealership during the best time of year to buy a car is a great way to save money, you can make sure you have even more money to get the car of your dreams by implementing a Conscious Spending Plan.

The typical way people look at saving money for a big purchase like a car typically goes like this:

  • Step 1: Cut out things like lattes and buying lunch every day in the hopes of saving enough money.
  • Step 2: Occasionally put a few dollars into your savings account.
  • Step 3: Cave and go back to buying lunch and lattes every day.
  • Step 4: Stop saving money for a car at all, feel bad for yourself, and go back to step 1.

What if I told you there was a system that allows you to know EXACTLY how much you can spend each month, helps automate your savings so you don’t have to do it, and allows you to keep buying your favorite latte every day?

That’s what the Conscious Spending Plan is. This is the exact same system my friend has used to spend five grand a year on shoes.

I can feel your eye-rolling judgment through the computer screen now. How can anyone in their right mind spend so much on shoes each year?

Well consider this:

  1. She makes a healthy salary.
  2. She doesn’t spend much on other things.
  3. She has a system in place that allows her to know exactly how much she can spend each month.

But most importantly: She just freaking loves shoes.

And her system allows her to buy 10 – 15 pairs of shoes each month — with each of them costing around $300 – $500 a pair.

After investing in her 401k and paying off her fixed monthly payments like rent and utilities, why wouldn’t she use her money to buy the things she loves?

You can use the same system to buy a car. Imagine being able to walk into the dealer and driving off the lot in the car of your dreams, resting easy in the fact that you were able to pay for it.

That’s why I want to offer you a free chapter of my New York Times best-selling book I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

In it, you’ll find the exact system you can use that’ll help you both earn more money and start saving for an awesome car.

Enter your information below and get the chapter for free today.  

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