Buying a car online - A guide


How much can afford

How much can you afford to buy a car
Buy a new or used car



Iíve put this criterion first because I believe this should be the most important factor in deciding which car is right for you.


I also have some pretty radical concepts to present around figuring out how much you should spend on a car.


First of all, have you considered whether you need a car of your own at all? Car share co-ops are springing up in towns and cities all over the United States (for an up-to-date list see If you only use a car occasionally and get around most of the time using other methods (bus, bike or on foot) check out the car share option.


My next suggestion is that you buy as little car as you need as possible. Let me explain using a housing analogy. If youíre buying a home, do you look for one with six bedrooms and four bathrooms just because your house fills up with relatives at Christmastime? Or do you look for a place with 2-3 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths for you and your spouse. Unless youíre enormously wealthy you probably do the latter. Apply this same logic to choosing how much vehicle to buy.


Donít go for a more expensive or larger model or more costly brand based on the off chance that youíll buy a cottage in the mountains and need four-wheel drive to get there or that youíll get that big raise and be able to afford the top-of-the-line choice.


So how do you work out how much you can afford? This article will help you decide and you can try out this basic calculator from Nolo, this more sophisticated calculator from or this loan calculator from WFS Financial (use the first link to an affordability calculator).


Alternately you can simply get out a piece of paper and list all your monthly expenses and deduct them from your monthly income to see what you can afford. No matter whether you use an online

calculator or pen and paper, remember to budget in annual expenses that may not be amortized on a monthly budget (such as house taxes or income tax). If youíre like most people youíll probably see

that the numbers say you canít actually afford a car at all! Then what are you going to do?


If you have a car now and the numbers indicate that you canít afford to get a new (or used) one then perhaps you will have to find a way to get some more use out of the old one. If thatís the route you decide to go why not start a savings regimen right now so that by the time your present car packs it

in for good youíll hopefully have at least some money put aside to help pay for a new one?


If you simply must get a new vehicle (by new I mean new to you Ė it could be a used or new car) then you will have to take out financing to buy it. This is not necessarily a bad thing as there are some very attractive deals available right now for those with good credit. Obviously though the money to pay for the vehicle will have to come from somewhere and you need to look at your expenses meticulously to see what can be reduced or eliminated so that making payments on your new vehicle doesnít cause you too much financial hardship.