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3 Tips For Staying Under Budget On A Used Car Purchase

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Buying any car is a significant decision, whether you're financing a brand new luxury car or buying a daily driver for a few thousand dollars. The used car market might seem particularly challenging, however. You'll have nearly endless options at any price point, making it hard to decide on how much car you need and how far you should stretch your budget.

If you're worried about the long-term impact of your purchase on your finances, the best thing you can do is create a budget before you buy and do your best to stick to it. These three tips will help you get a car you love without setting your budget on fire in the process. 

1. Don't Maximize Your Payments

If you're financing a car, you'll probably start by determining how much you can afford to pay each month. Planning your maximum monthly costs is crucial to getting a used car you can afford, but don't assume that the maximum you can pay is necessarily the amount you should pay. Any vehicle comes with additional costs beyond the payment, such as tires and other routine maintenance items.

When buying a used car, it's always a good idea to consider your maximum payment a genuine upper limit. If you can find a vehicle that meets your needs for less, that leaves more money in your budget for repairs, maintenance, or other costs. When you do have to stretch yourself to the limit, make sure it's for a vehicle that's truly worth the price.

2. Focus on Reliability

Buying a high-end used car can be an excellent way to get a luxurious or sporty ride, but it can also mean spending more money over the long run. Even when well-maintained, many high-end cars have higher parts and repair costs. If you're worried about your vehicle budget, these cars may not always be the best option for keeping your overall costs low.

Instead, focus on vehicles or manufacturers well-known for reliability and dependability. Surprisingly, these workhorses may cost you more upfront than a luxury car with similar age or mileage. While it might be hard to stomach the cost for a less prestigious vehicle, you'll save a lot of money in the long run on reduced repair costs.

3. Do the Math

Remember that there's more than just the sticker price when buying any car. You also need to consider taxes, registration, vehicle fees, and possibly other administrative costs. If you're concerned about your overall purchasing budget, make sure to factor these into your process. Reputable dealerships will go over these details with you so you can understand your "out the door" price before you buy.

It's easy to accidentally go over your budget when purchasing a used vehicle, but you don't need to stretch your finances to get a great car. By following these tips, you can find a vehicle that suits your needs without creating more financial stress for the future. Keep these things in mind as you look for used vehicles