8 Tips on How to Buy a Car on a Budget – 2021 Guide

Whether you’re shopping for your very first vehicle or are looking for an upgrade, buying a car can feel like a massive undertaking, especially if you’re working on little more than a modest budget. After all, not only will you have to consider the retail price of the desired model. But you’ll also need to factor in the taxes, insurance, and other additional fees that you’ll have to cover with its ownership.

Fortunately, there are ways to get a decent set of wheels without having to take a second mortgage in the process. And we’ll cover a few strategies and techniques that’ll aid you in purchasing a car that you’ll be happy to have in your garage at a price that you can afford.

1. Determine what you need it for


Before you begin shopping around for a car, it’s a general rule of thumb to determine what you need the vehicle for. Start by asking yourself what you need the vehicle for, how much space you’ll require, and where it will be driven on. By identifying what the motor will be primarily used for, you’ll be able to secure the right automobile that will best serve your needs and help you avoid those that won’t and will just end up costing you more in the long run.

2. Don’t limit yourself to a single option

Most of us have a specific model that we aspire to own. However, if you limit yourself to a single option, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to save yourself money. As such, it’s good standard practice to have at least three or four similar options that you can work with. Do your research on each model and check for their reliability and resale value. Doing your homework on several cars might not be the most exciting aspect of buying a vehicle, but it’ll go a long way in helping you find one that’ll give you great value for money.

3. Shop around first


Contrary to what some might think, getting a great deal on a car is neither as complicated nor as tricky as it appears. In actuality, it’s relatively simple to achieve, and it all starts with the exploration of your options. From dealerships like to private sellers, giving yourself time to shop around first won’t just help you find cheaper alternatives. But more importantly, it’ll give you the leverage and talking points that you need to drive the price of the desired automobile down during negotiations.

It’ll also give you the opportunity to check how certain models hold their value. So when the time comes to part ways with it, depreciation will be less of a concern to you than it would have been otherwise.

4. Consider buying pre-owned vehicles

Let’s face it, brand new cars aren’t cheap. In fact, some models cost a small fortune. And if your budget can extend to the latest automobiles, you may want to consider buying a pre-owned vehicle instead. The second-hand car market is quite massive, after all. And you’ll likely find more than a few that won’t just meet your needs but are affordable too.

However, keep in mind that there’s always a risk of buying a used car. If you don’t want to deal with any unforeseen expenses, it’s important to give the vehicle a proper test drive. And if possible, have a mechanic give the automobile a once over to make sure that it’s tip-top shape.

5. Negotiate for favorable terms


Car ownership isn’t a decision to take lightly because there’s a good chance that you’ll need to stay financially committed to it over the next four to five years. And it is because of this reason that you must always try to haggle on price. Negotiating for favorable terms might not be easy, but it isn’t impossible.

Remember that the sellers need to make a sale too. And a little bargaining can go a long way in getting the chosen model at a price that you can safely pay.

6. Explore your financing options

If you’re working on a tight budget, it’s likely that you’ll need some form of financing to afford the desired vehicle. And as tempting as dealership offerings might appear, they usually come at a price – be it higher interest rates or an expensive downpayment. It’s for this reason that you should explore other financing options before making any financial commitments. Doing so will smoothen out the process by putting a limit on what you can safely spend.

7. Try to avoid long-term commitments


There’s no denying that you’ll have small monthly payments with long-term commitments. However, they often come with higher rates of interest too. And because of this, you’ll likely spend a lot more than you would have had you chosen to go with a shorter loan term. So if possible, try to get a loan that is as long – if not shorter – than the warranty of the car. Save up first if you can’t afford the down payment. By doing so, you’ll be able to pay off the vehicle quicker and won’t have to deal with extra expenses for repairs in the event that the need for it arises.

8. Inspect before you buy

If you plan to buy used, you must thoroughly inspect the vehicle before you make a purchase. After all, you could potentially end up with a lot of trouble and costly repairs. Make sure that the vehicle also has a good service history and don’t be afraid to walk away from cars that don’t meet good standards. A comprehensive assessment and evaluation of the vehicle’s condition now will save you from a lot of hassle later on.

Buying a car is, at the end of the day, a significant purchase. To get the best possible deal, you must go into it well-prepared. And with the strategies outlined above, you’ll create opportunities for yourself to get the vehicle that you want without paying more than you’re comfortable with.