If you need a new car but don't think you can afford a payment, there are several things you can do to afford a purchase. Cars don't lasts forever, and even if you're determined to drive your car for many years to come, it will eventually die and you'll have to buy a new one. Most people finance their car and pay it off over the next 3 to 5 years. A car payment creates another monthly expense, and you may question whether you can afford another bill. If you have no choice but to get a new car, here are seven things you can do to afford a car payment.
1. Improve Your Credit
To make a car payment more affordable, improve your credit before applying for financing. Your credit score doesn't determine the sale price of the car, but it determines the interest rate you pay. If you have excellent credit, you might qualify for a super low rate. In fact, some finance companies offer 0% or 1% APR to applicants with the best credit scores.
2. Shop around for the Best Interest Rate
Not only should you improve your credit to qualify for the best rates, you need to shop around to make sure you're getting the lowest rate. You don't have to negotiate financing at the dealership. Some people get their own financing through a bank or credit union, and typically score better rates since they're cutting out the middleman -- the dealership. As a rule of thumb, get at least two or three auto loan quotes.
3. Save a down Payment
If you can't afford to pay cash for a car, maybe you can afford to save a 10% to 20% down payment. A down payment reduces how much you need to finance, which helps you walk away with a lower car payment.
4. Settle for Less
You might have your mind set on driving away in a nice luxury car. But if you want to keep car payments affordable and manageable, you might have to relax your wish list and purchase a vehicle that's more practical and economical. This doesn't mean you have to purchase an old used car. But instead of getting a $40,000 car, you might decide on a $25,000 or $30,000 car to save $250 a month
5. Don't Buy Brand New
Brand new cars depreciate fast, and you'll get more bang for your buck purchasing a car that's a year old. I bought my car when it was a year old and it still had the new car smell and only 11,000 miles. It was like getting a brand-new car without the brand-new price tag.
6. Reduce Other Expenses
Determine how much you want to spend on a car each month and then see if you can reduce your current expenses by this much. Sometimes, fitting a car into the budget is simply a matter of prioritizing spending and eliminating unnecessary costs. For example, getting rid of cable, eating out less and shopping less might put hundreds back into your pocket every month.
7. Buy at an Auction and Pay Cash
If you have a few thousand dollars saved, you might find a reliable vehicle at an auction. You can pay cash and not worry about a car payment for the next three, four or five years.
Financing a car is a big commitment and you should be able to afford the payment on a monthly basis. What else can you do to afford a new car payment?