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A Guide To Buying A Used Car As A Single Parent

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In 2016, the U.S. census determined that there were more than 12 million single parent families and many of those families lived below the federal poverty line. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that in 2015, about one out of every four single, custodial moms did not have full-time, year-round employment, while almost one out of every five single fathers were in the same situation. Unfortunately, one of the more common reasons for not obtaining and maintaining steady employment relates to the inability to purchase and drive reliable vehicles. Therefore, when you need to buy a new-to-you car and you are not an expert with vehicles,  it is a good idea to be aware of the advice discussed below.      

Understanding Why Financing A Used Car Immediately May Not Be The Best Long-term Plan

Although it may seem obvious, it should be reiterated that establishing a budget for your used car is essential. One unfortunate problem that many single parents have experienced is financing a car with payments that are expected to be paid with the as yet non-existent employment. It is easy to see that by doing so, you may have a car for a month or two.

However, if you don't get the job you want or expect and must settle for the lower-paying job you can get right away, you could find yourself back on the bus with your kids in a few months when you cannot afford the car payment, insurance, and other fees associated with vehicle ownership.  

Planning For Responsible Car Ownership

If you have recently experienced financial challenges that have made buying a car challenging, there are two options for buying a car that you should consider. One is paying cash for your car, after having it inspected by a mechanic who is willing to put his or her findings about the vehicle in question in writing and provide a warranty for that information. If you are one of the fortunate single parents who gets a sizable tax return, buying a used car with some of those funds is a good idea.  

If you don't get a big tax return or if it was already spent this year, another good choice if your future financial situation is still being determined is determining the total amount of money that you expect your used car to cost each month. That figure should include your payment, full-coverage insurance, maintenance, and fuel.

When you have been able to put that amount of money into a savings account every month for six months or more by a specific date, you will know that you really can afford it. If you have to put that payment off or you find yourself skimping on other expenses in order to do so, you cannot afford that amount and you should re-assess your budget. The upside to that plan is that after six months of putting money aside, you will have a hefty down payment to buy a used car. The downside is that you and your kids will be on the bus, in a cab or walking where you need to go for a bit longer, but you will not be putting yourself into a more tenuous financial position while doing so.        

In conclusion, owning a car can make it easier to get and keep a job, which can dramatically improve the quality of life for you as a single parent and your children. As a result, you should consider the above facts as you are planning to look at used cars.