How to Master Kelley Blue Book and Find the Best Deals on Cars

If you’re in the market to buy a new car, you’ve probably heard of Kelley Blue Book, or KBB for short. Kelley Blue Book is an invaluable tool that helps people decide the price they should pay or sell their car at, but did you know that there are many other things you can do with KBB? In this guide, we’ll show you how to master Kelley Blue Book, so you can find deals on cars that won’t break your bank account!

First things first


Kelley Blue Book, or KBB, is a website most people have never heard of. That’s because it serves an extremely specific purpose: It tells you how much your car is worth. But if you’re in the market for a new ride, that fact may just change your life. KBB, which recently turned 40 years old (Happy Birthday!), is one of those brilliant innovations that seems completely obvious in hindsight—but we know some of our readers were curious how they had never even heard of it until now. So here goes! We give you everything you need to know about how to use KBB to save money on new cars.

Know your costs


Kelley’s Blue Book can be a useful tool for consumers. But it’s also extremely valuable for car dealerships, who use it as a reference for setting prices. The other thing about Kelley’s is that it has different values for different cars, depending on when they were manufactured. That means you need more than just one copy of an appraisal—you need two (or even three) with values that are up-to-date. When you talk with car dealerships, make sure they have recent appraisals ready so you know your offer is in line with what they’re willing to accept. It can give you an edge over buyers who don’t do their homework as well as you do!

Know what you want before you start shopping


While it’s a given that you need to know what type of car you want, there are other factors involved in your search. For example, if you live in a city where road construction is common, you may want to consider an SUV or truck. Asking yourself questions ahead of time will help inform your search. What do I want my next car to be? Is safety important? What about gas mileage? Those factors will help narrow down your search when searching for new cars online.

Develop your pricing strategy


Pricing your vehicle is an art form that has more variables than there are cars in your local dealership’s lot. How you price your car will affect how many buyers you attract, how much interest they show, how high you set their expectations, and whether or not they think it’s worth it to go look at it. You want potential buyers jumping through hoops for a shot at buying your car – because that means they’re excited about buying it. You don’t want them just peeking in window hoping something better comes along. Here are some pricing strategies you can use

Plan your budget ahead of time


You’ll also want to take note of whether your credit card offers you any perks like free insurance or concierge services. The money that you save will add up, so don’t overlook a way for your credit card to help save you money. Finally, make sure that if you do have an emergency fund, it is separate from any other account. It should be a completely separate bank account that isn’t tied in with anything else—or it can be in cash form. The goal is for it to remain untouched until an emergency hits so that you aren’t tempted to dip into it when something doesn’t go right with your spending habits.

Research, research, research


When you’re buying a car, you’ve probably already done your homework. You’ve combed over countless websites and forums, read up on whatever issues are plaguing vehicles in your budget, scoured multiple lists of well-reviewed vehicles at different price points—you get it. But once you head into a dealership or start communicating with sellers online, it’s important not to let your preparation slide. Car buying is one of those situations where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: The best way to save money (and headaches) when buying a car is by doing your homework first. Here’s how to research as much as possible before entering any negotiation room.

Set up alerts/monitor prices online


Setting up a few alerts or price-monitoring services is a great way to be proactive about checking for better deals. It’s always smart to have multiple alert types set up—for example, you can have them send an email, text message, or both when they find a deal you’re interested in. Consider setting up alerts from Google Alerts, Amazon Price Watch (includes Sears & Walmart), Bing Deal Alerts, or Monitoralerts (which has partnered with eBay). You can even set up alerts based on your location using Yelp and Foursquare’s mobile apps. Just remember: Watching prices is key—you don’t want them going back up before you get that deal!

Schedule appointments with dealers


In order to conduct an apples-to-apples comparison, you’ll need to visit a number of dealerships. By making appointments with salespeople beforehand, you’ll know who you’ll be meeting with and what kind of car or truck they have in stock. You won’t waste time driving around town visiting every auto dealership only to find that there’s nothing that suits your needs. When buying a new car, don’t be afraid to negotiate—the blue book value is just a guide, not gospel! You should definitely go into any purchase knowing that it will require some negotiating. If a dealer turns down your offer, just thank them for their time and move onto another dealership.

Take car shopping seriously


If you’re not comfortable negotiating your purchase price, it’s time to get acquainted with some negotiation tips that will help you get a better deal. Whether you are buying or selling a car, there are opportunities for both parties to negotiate. Remember: It’s okay if they don’t accept your first offer! When buying, try saying something like the cost is within my budget range; however, I really want that X option package. Could we find a compromise? You may be surprised how much wiggle room there can be in an initial offer, so play around with different combinations until you find one that works for both of you.

Negotiate like a pro!


This doesn’t just mean haggling over prices. According to research, people tend to get more satisfaction from a purchase when they talk themselves into liking it before they buy it. You should treat yourself, you could tell yourself as you eye that shiny new toy. Think of negotiation as a two-step process: First, convince yourself that you want whatever it is, then go after it like crazy. Use your imagination—the better your version of convincing, the more likely you are to end up with what you want!

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