Let’s face it. Cars can be expensive. You have the cost of the car itself, but then you have to consider insurance, maintenance, repairs and any aftermarket accessories you want or need. But owning a car doesn’t have to break the bank. By doing your homework, learning to perform some of your own maintenance, and searching for deals and discounts, you could save thousands.
Car Buying on a Budget
- How Much Car Can I Afford?: Input your information in this calculator to determine how much you can afford to spend on a new or used car.
- 10 Tips for First-Time Car Buyers: These tips are useful whether this is your first or fifth car. Make sure you know how to establish your budget before you begin looking.
- How to Buy a Used Car: If your budget has you considering a used car, learn the 101 things you need to check for ranked from “cause for concern” to “deal breaker.”
- How to Test Drive a Car: Know what to look for when you’re test driving a car, especially if you’re checking out used cars.
- How Car Financing Works: Learn the ins and outs of how car financing works and how to best set yourself up for a good deal.
Car Maintenance on a Budget
- Car Maintenance Quiz: Test your knowledge on how to respond to 10 different car maintenance situations. Knowing what to do could prevent you costly repairs.
- 10 DIY Car-Care Tips: Why pay someone to change your light bulbs or repair your dents when you can do it yourself and save?
- 10 Tips to Detail Your Car: If you can detail your car like a pro, you’ll save hundreds each year.
- 4 Best Ways to Improve Gas Mileage: Make each gallon of gas (and each dollar you’re spending on fuel) go a little farther with these helpful tips.
Car Insurance on a Budget
- How to Budget for Car Insurance: Find out how to tally up how much you can afford to spend each month on car insurance.
- Cheap Car Insurance Tips: Here are a few simple tips to consider when you’re trying to reduce your car insurance bill.
- How to Choose Car Insurance Company: These 7 tips from the Department of Motor Vehicles will help you choose a quality car insurance company.
- How to Choose the Right Insurance: There are a lot of coverage options, discount plans, and other factors to consider. This article helps you pick the right policy.
Car Accessories on a Budget
- Built-In versus Add-On: Learn when it’s better to get your own aftermarket accessories and when it’s a better deal to package it with a car purchase.
- Best Cheap Car Speakers: Read about some of the less expensive aftermarket car speakers by type, brand and reviews.
- Best Car Speakers Review: Compare different brands with this handy chart that lists performance, cost, reviews, specs and warranty information.
- Car Floor Mats on a Budget: Learn how to shop for inexpensive but upgraded floor mats to protect your car’s interior from rain, snow, dirt and spills.
Here Are A Few Final Tips
Remember the first thing you’ll want to do is look at your budget. Determine how much you can spend each much and how much you’ll have available for a down payment, first month’s insurance, etc. Only after looking at your finances can you determine what kind of cars can be options.
If you decide you need a used car, even through a private sale, don’t feel you have to pay cash up front. Check with a local credit union to see if you can get a reasonable rate on a car loan. Credit unions are much more likely than a bank to give you a deal, even if you have bad or no credit. A $7,000 car with $1,000 down could cost you around $100 per month on a 60 month loan.
Once you know your budget and have your financing secured, you’ll need to pick the right car. Don’t get too caught up in cars that have fancy built-in technologies. There are a lot of ways to get these features, like back seat DVD players, aftermarket for a much better price.
Consider fuel mileage. The ongoing cost of fueling up your car could really start to hurt your pocketbook if you’re not careful. Sometimes it’s worth spending a little more up front to get a car that will save you money on gas over the long run.
Learn how to negotiate. If you’re not very confident about your negotiation skills, ask a business savvy friend or family member to negotiate for you. There’s no shame in getting help in order to save hundreds of dollars per year.
Make sure you read the user manual. While we tend to hear a lot about changing the oil every 3,000 miles, some user manuals will inform you that you can go even further than that. Also learn what warning lights on your car need to be taken seriously to prevent further and most costly damage. Your user manual will also give you tips on proper maintenance.
Shop around for a good mechanic before you’re in a desperate situation. Get reviews from friends or on websites like Yelp. Check to see if the shop is AAA certified, which could save you money if you’re a AAA member.