E.B. White once said that everything in life is somewhere else--and oftentimes you get there in a car. We don't know Mr. White personally, but he must love cars like we do. And if you're a first time car buyer reading this, then purchasing your first vehicle must be a big deal to you, too. If not, then you wouldn't be reading this in the first place. Buying your first car is like walking a tightrope between excitement and frustration. There are some days where you just can't wait to drive your best first car, but there will be more days where the tedious process of finding and buying it can get very stressful. This shouldn't discourage you, though. It will not be easy, but if it's worth doing (and it definitely is), then it should be worth doing well.

Luckily for you, we’ve been here long enough to know the ins and outs of purchasing your first car in the Philippines. So allow us to make things easier by giving you some helpful tips when buying your first car.

1. Arrange a realistic budget

You have to be really honest with yourself here. When you add up all your basic living costs such as food, rent, medical expenses, extracurricular activities, and other costs, will you still have enough money to afford a brand new car? And we're not just talking about paying the initial down payment here. We're also talking about the additional (and hidden) charges, taxes, monthly payments, fuel, insurance, maintenance and repair fees that go along with owning a car. If you think you can’t afford to buy your first car, why not go for a used first car, instead? Not only are they cheaper, but they also lose less value compared to the new cars overall.

2. Study what you can really spend each month

Remember that you're obligated to pay your monthly payments like clockwork. It will not stop just because you need to pay two months’ worth of unpaid electric bills and credit card debt you incurred after you broke up with your girlfriend. Make sure you have a consistent means of paying your monthly car payments without sacrificing your other basic expenses. Otherwise, you risk paying for incurring interest rates and penalties on top of your monthly payments and other car expenses. It wouldn’t take too long for you to drown in a mountain of debt because of this.

3. Know what you really need for your transportation

Are you a college student looking to buy your first car? Or perhaps a young professional entering the job market fresh from university? What you need to think about when buying your first car is your lifestyle and your use for the car. Will you be driving home to your parents every few weeks with a large amount of luggage (and unwashed clothing)? Then consider a car that has a large cargo space or foldable seats. If you’re a college student who likes to socialize and drive around with friends, a hatchback with five doors might be the best option for you. Remember to always keep in mind the reasons behind buying your first car.

4. Research, research, research

Nowadays, research has never been easier -- and more convenient than ever before. All you need here is a bit of effort on your part. You can check out the local directory for the numbers of different car dealers near you and call them up. Or you can visit these dealers personally and ask which are the best first cars to buy.

You can also be a bit unconventional by asking people about their experiences with the car you want to purchase. Ask what they like about it -- and what they don't like about it. Are they happy with it? Or do they regret purchasing it? If they do, ask them what they would buy, instead.

The internet is literally filled with great information about cars. Sites like Carmudi Philippines even offer comprehensive personalized searches, so you really get the first car purchase you're looking for.

Really, you don't have any excuses here, whatsoever. So get out of that couch and do some digging!

5. Find a car dealer of your choice

Not all car dealers are out to get you (and your wallet). In fact, there are really good ones that don't get the recognition and respect that they deserve. These are the ones you should look for.

There are, however, indicators that show whether a car dealer is trustworthy. Generally, we avoid dealerships where almost a third of their sales staff is lined up at their front entrance. They remind us of sharks circling their prey. We also avoid those that tend to talk a lot without even probing us about what we're looking for. Sadly, these salesmen are really out to get your money, so just get out as fast as you can.

What do you look for in a good car dealer? Our heads turn toward those that are not only multi-awarded, but have also been there for quite some time (more than 5 years is a good start). We also check out car forums, mechanics, and online reports. We also ask friends, colleagues, and even acquaintances for recommendations.

6. Do a test drive

Now that you're armed with tons of researched materials, don't forget one important thing when buying your first car in the Philippines: do a test drive. Yes, it really looks good in the brochure, and the color definitely matches your other half's eyes, but these reasons pale in comparison to performance and comfort.

Get inside the car and really experience it. Feel the chair, the steering wheel, the car’s outward visibility and base height. Look at the exterior. Are there strange dents on the car’s hood? Observe how it moves on the road. Is it noisy when you rev up the engine? Are the brakes working well? Do you feel a lot of jarring when you drive over a pothole? Is the vehicle flood-friendly? What about the interiors? Are the seats comfortable?

Also ask questions that relate to your lifestyle: Is it child or pet friendly? Can it hold a lot of cargo when you do your deliveries? Will this fit a lot of your camping gear when you and your family go out of town?

We can never stress enough how important it is to get a first-hand experience of a car. Believe us, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache (and money) in the end.

7. Find out the real price

Find out how much people really paid for the vehicle. Don't just stick to one price, but get as many as you can and calculate the average price. Make sure you do this before making an offer to your car dealer for your first car.

Another important thing you need to remember is that a car’s price is really just the tip of the iceberg here. There are actually many hidden costs, fees, taxes, and other expenses that you will have to pay once you buy your first car purchase, so make sure to come in ready and prepared for battle.