Do you love cars as much as I do? There’s a chance you like them a lot if you’re reading this.
Buying car is a delicate matter, especially regarding money. Once you have decided you want to buy a car, you absolutely must ask yourself “How much can I afford?”.
Answer this question with the utmost honesty, really, there’s no need to destroy your finances just because you want to show off an expensive car.
The first step you must take is determining which cars you can afford in order to make the decision. Follow this short list to go through the first step successfully.
- Assess your own economic balance, and reach the conclusion: How much money can you afford to spend for a car?
- Research the cars that you can and want to buy.
- First, research what cars you like.
- Second, eliminate all the cars of the list that you can’t afford.
- Third and final, don’t stray from this list.
Now, if buying a car was simpler, you’d just have to do this step. But it isn’t like this!
A car requires a variety of things to keep running (both figuratively and metaphorically), so you must factor in:
- Paying the loan.
- Paying insurance.
- Installing the alarm system.
- Purchasing tires (even more expensive when you factor in winter!).
- Paying fuel and other fluids.
- Paying car washing.
- Paying any repairs and parts.
This really makes the process much more complex, you might be getting a deal for a car, but then its fuel consumption starts chipping away your income until you end up selling it or just parking it indefinitely. You might want to get the biggest car available in the car shop, but then winter comes, and the tires are too expensive, not to mention that size makes cleaning far costlier.
Yes, it may be a lot to digest, and depending on the size of your money cushion it may or may not matter at all, but if it does matter for you, then you’d be doing yourself a favor if you properly planned ahead.
You will have to face more expenses down the road (again, both literally and metaphorically). So, it’s important that you can shoulder the load.
Now that we’ve settled that the total price of the vehicle is more than the price tag on it. It is time you start thinking about what makes up the price: Sales tax, title, registrations fees, extended warranties, and the such.
Factor that in, and let’s discuss monthly payments.
I’ll go ahead and assume you’re looking to finance a vehicle rather than lease it. If so, calculate your “ideal” monthly payments. Keep in mind that you must include both principal price and interest. Loans, interest rate, and the upfront payment will dictate your monthly payments. If you can wait to purchase when interest rates are lower, then you will be able of saving some money on your payments!
A good strategy for making your monthly payments more affordable is devoting a bigger “down” payment for your vehicle, this will lower the monthly bill!
This article assumes this is the first car you’re buying, or that you don’t have any other car in your power. If you do have a car in your power, trading it in might be a solid strategy, it will reduce the total cost of the new vehicle, as well as improving your loan terms. Be sure to discuss this when negotiating, it can make your case much harder for dealers.
Speaking about monthly payments makes me return to a similar topic, upkeep costs!
You shouldn’t spend more than 10%-25% of your annual income on your vehicle, your total car expenses shouldn’t be a burden, you’re buying a tool, not a responsibility. Keep that mindset on!
All in all, if you’re not spending over 25% of your annual income on your vehicle (after having factored all the previously mentioned variables), then you’re in the clear! Congratulations.
Depending on how much money “cushion” you’ve got left, you could opt for a different vehicle that you’d prefer until you reach a comfortable spot within your annual income.
Don’t forget you can always optimize your upkeep costs either! Car washing, fuel, fluids, repairs, and all those expenses, they can be properly optimized so that you don’t end up bleeding your money!
Repair costs can be delegated to factory warranties, which are about 3 years or 36,000 miles, this makes extended warranties attractive options. If you don’t have a warranty, set aside some money every month, even if you didn’t have to change tires or anything.
I’ll close this article with some advice on what are the most and least expensive cars to maintain, coupled with the rate of how cars’ cost change with age.
Most expensive brands to maintain:
- BMW: Luxury import from Germany, it reigns king as the most expensive with an approximate maintenance cost around $17,800 over 10 years!
- Mercedes-Benz: Another import from Germany, not as expensive as the BMW but still there, with a cost around $12,900 over 10 years.
- Cadillac: From the USA, tied with the Mercedes-Benz with a cost around $12,500 over 10 years.
Least expensive brands to maintain:
- Toyota: Incredibly efficient, it maintenance cost for about 10 years is around $5,500!
- Scion: Subsidiary of Toyota, with a maintenance cost around $6,400 over 10 years.
- Lexus: Yet another subsidiary of Toyota, with a cost around $7,000 over 10 years
Kia, Infinity, Volvo, and Mazda, are known for being reliable brands too, so you can take a peek at their models!
Lastly, car aging!
Maintenance costs increase along the car’s age. There’s usually a consistent increase of $100-$150 in costs per year for the first 10 years, between 11 and 12 years there’s a jump in costs, and at this point, people usually disown their cars, given the steep price for maintenance.
As a conclusion:
In a few words – In short, don’t spend all your money on buying a car! You should have some extra budget to solve problems that you will be faced with on your way.
Finding the best answer for your question often is not very easy. This article was written by Rims And Tires – the automotive guru in order to open your eyes on the problem of buying and maintaining a recently purchased car.
I hope this article helped you understand how to buy a car without killing your budget. Thanks for taking the time to read it!