Guest blogger Sierra Barter: "I stuck to my guns"

Sierra and her newly leased car, Lady Bug

Sierra and her newly leased car, Lady Bug

The week before my 30th birthday, I made an appointment at a Honda dealership to test drive a new car. Living in Rhode Island, a car is almost necessary and my current Nissan Versa wasn’t doing too well—it needed over $1000 repairs and was worth basically as much as I owed.

After a conversation with my mom telling her how stressed out I was about paying for the repairs before winter, she suggested I look at leases. I have always wanted to lease a car—you have a newish car for a limited time, don’t have to worry about payments, and it can be less than a car loan. And, since I don’t usually drive very far, I didn’t feel stressed about the mileage limitations.

I was hooked.

When I went to the dealership, I made sure to do my research and know what I wanted before going in. I knew four things for sure:

  1. I wanted a Honda Fit.
  2. I couldn’t afford to pay more than $250 per month for a lease payment. That was what I was paying for my car payment, and my budget doesn’t afford a lot of wiggle room.
  3. I did not want to put any money down. This wasn’t exactly a planned decision and I didn’t have money saved for a down payment.
  4. I wanted at least $3,500 for my current car—which was a little higher than the balance on the loan.

As I sat there with the car salesman, (who was very intimidating) I channeled my inner Alex Dickinson and remembered these three things:

  1. I could walk. I had a car that worked and got me there. I wasn't in a situation where I truly needed a car.
  2. If they couldn't meet my terms (see above!) I had a lot of options. My credit was good and there were a lot of dealerships that would want my business.
  3. The ball was in my court. They wanted MY money.

As I sat there negotiating, I stuck to my guns. Buying a car can be really scary, and they tried to fight me in every way, down to every dollar. When I said $250, they said $350, and I just had to work backwards. I not only asked for what I wanted, but that was all I was willing to accept.

I ended up driving home that day with a new car—but, I got the payment down to $259 a month (when they had wanted $350+ AND a significant amount down) and got what I wanted for my car. I'm proud I didn't back down until I got what I wanted!

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Alexandra Dickinson

Alexandra Dickinson is the CEO and founder of Ask For It, a boutique consulting company working to close the gender wage gap by effecting change at both the institutional and individual level. We work with companies, schools, organizations and individuals through a combination of trainings, workshops and consulting. Our goal is for women and men to be paid based on their talents and skills, regardless of gender, and for our company to have been an important part of that change.