S​o, you've just purchased your first car! Congratulations. Can't really explain how you're feeling, right? A mixture of excitement and bewilderment? Maybe a little bit of shock because OMG I HAVE A CAR.

W​hen I purchased my very first car this year, I was feeling exactly that. Excited. Nervous. Unsure of what to expect. But I also couldn't believe how much freedom I had. How I could just get in my car and drive anywhere I wanted to? I remember just driving all over the city on the first day I was handed the keys. I turned up the music and just drove. I didn't tell my sister because I wanted to surprise her. I didn't care if the car had some scratches and a damaged bumper. It was mine, and I was ecstatic.

B​ut when you buy a car, there are also a copious amounts of responsibility that comes with it. Making sure it always has petrol, maintenance, insurance, and other unexpected expenses. So be prepared to pay the money to keep it running and up to snuff. Especially if you go with an older model, like myself.

I​ decided to go the practical way and buy a 2005 Honda Civic LX from my previous workplace. It had just arrived on the lot, and it piqued my interest. It had less that 190K on it, body was in decent shape aside from some deep scratches on the bumper and the price was right. I only took it for a small test drive, and if I had taken it on the highway, I would've known the underlying issues that had to be fixed. New alternator and suspension links, right off the bat. If you're going to go for an as-is car, always, ALWAYS see your mechanic first to make sure there isn't a lot of repairs before you buy it. Luckily my employer was a car dealership, and gave me an excellent deal on them.

A​lso, if you've been driving for a while and have experience, you'll still be considered a new driver to insurance companies. Don't go with the first offer you're given and shop around, because your premium is going to be high no matter where you go, unless you get hooked up with your parents' company, or know a place that offers a deal for you. And just because you have an old car and don't think that you won't care if you get in an accident, pay that little extra for accident coverage. You'll be thankful that you did. Your deductible may not be much, but when you decide to make a claim, it'll go towards repairs. You can also go through a repair shop on your own without doing that, because smaller shops tend not to charge as much as bigger repair shops, too. Either way, you'll be paying something.

W​hen you purchase a vehicle, either used or new, you're taking a risk. You never know what's going to go wrong with it, and you'll be putting out a lot which could be hard on your finances. But at the same time, it'll make your life easier. You'll be able to get to your job faster, go for quick errands and will open up a lot of things that you couldn't do before you had a car. If you save and budget wisely, that shouldn't be an issue.

I​ bought my vehicle before my 29th birthday, and on my own. The stress that came with it wasn't fun. You really have to do your homework on this. And expect disappointment. There are going to be little hiccups along the way, and you may not walk away with the car that you want. In the beginning, I was only looking at Mini Coopers, because I always wanted one. It was my dream car and I was determined to get one. But as I looked into it further, all I could imagine was money falling out of my pockets. Mini's are crazy expensive to maintain. You have to take them to a BMW dealership for repairs. Premium petrol. Costly parts. Luckily I had the chance of test driving one, so at least I can say that I drove one.

T​here's a slim chance that you'll have your dream car as your first vehicle. Sometimes you have to go the safe and practical route. You'll have to do a lot of comparing specs. Safety rating, reliability and fuel consumption. And based on the car you choose, your monthly insurance payments will fluctuate. I asked what it would cost to have a 2009 Mini Cooper classic on the road, and they told me it would cost $400. Why? Because there's a lot of them on the road. Then I priced my 2005 Honda, and it was a drastic jump, only $306 a month.

A​re you going to pay for the car upfront? Are you going to finance? Lease? Loan? If you don't know the difference between leasing and financing, ask someone you know. Don't feel pressured to lease a car. EVER. It isn't worth it in the long run. And you don't want to be stuck with a 5 year lease, because after that lease is over, the car won't be yours, and you'll have to pay out the difference, or lengthen your lease to pay off the car. And fyi, you don't have unlimited KM. You have to stay within the allowed yearly amount of kilometres given. If you want to finance, the car will be yours after that financing agreement is over. I don't want to overwhelm you in case you're all new to this, but this is another thing on your list.

I​'m going to be honest with you and tell you that the most expensive thing about your car will be filling up. You're going to be filling up at least twice a week, if not more, depending on how much you drive and the type of fuel economy your vehicle has. To fill my tank, it's about $40. Not bad for a Honda. I don't have to fill up a lot because I only drive small distances, and I just top up the tank here and there so I never empty it. If you decided to go with a 4x4, you're going to be filling up a lot more, and it'll cost you. Make friends with your local petrol station, and see if they have a points card that you can use towards your petrol purchases. Because it's always great to get $25 in free petrol, right??

T​here's a million more things to expect. If I talked about them all, this article would never end. So - do your research. Study. Ask for help if you need it, and most importantly, DO NOT RUSH. Don't make any snap decisions, and don't get overly excited because believe it or not, that can be a game changer. If you're going through a car dealership, stick to your guns and stand your ground because some of the car salesman can be pushy jerks, and will persuade you into something you don't want.

I​ hope this article has brought some insight for you. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask me!

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