How To Save For A Car: 8 Ways To Get A New Or Used Car

Written By Eddy Ballesteros

Updated on: February 7, 2024
Save for a car

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Are you tired of taking the bus, begging your friends for rides, or walking to your destinations?

It's time to start saving up for a car and have a more significant down payment.

Lucky for you, I've got some tips and tricks to help you save up for that car you need. Tag along for the ride:

The Exact Steps To Save For A Car

  • Know your budget and cut off unnecessary spending
  • Save enough for a big down payment
  • Trade in your current car on top of your down payment
  • Fix any errors on your credit report before your big purchase
  • Get a loan from your bank for a better interest rate
  • Refinance after a year to lower monthly car payments

Setting Up a Detailed Plan for Saving for A Car

Creating a savings plan for buying a car may seem daunting, but it can be simple with a little organization and discipline.

We have a few ideas for you to create a plan for your dream car with a significant down payment.

Determine Your Budget and Research Prices

Determine the budget for a new vehicle.

Look at your monthly income and expenses, and figure out how much you can comfortably set aside each month for your car fund and monthly loan payment if needed.

Budgeting while living paycheck to paycheck

Once you have a budget in mind, start researching car prices. Look at the make and model of the car you want, and check out the prices for both new and used cars.

This will give you an impression of how much you’ll need to save.

Set a Savings Goal and Break it Down

Set a savings goal once you know how much your dream vehicle costs. This goal should be achievable within a reasonable timeframe and challenging enough to motivate you.

Now that you have a savings goal, break it into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Figure out how much money you need to be saved monthly, and set that amount aside in a separate savings account.

Cut Your Expenses and Open a Savings Account

Look at your current spending habits and see where you can cut back. Making a monthly budget can help with buying a car.

Do you need to spend too much money on useless utility bills? Can you skip the late-night grocery shop haul?

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By cutting out unnecessary expenses, you'll be able to save more money for your vehicle.

Don't just stash your car fund under your mattress. Always open a separate account. This should be a car savings account, and you should deposit your money there.

Not only will your money be safer in a savings account, but you'll also earn interest.

Start a Side Hustle and Celebrate Your Milestones

If you need more than cutting expenses, consider starting a side hustle.

You could sell your handmade crafts on Etsy, drive for a ride-sharing service, or start a dog-walking business.

start a side hustle to save up for a car

Every little bit helps. Plenty of ways exist to save money that doesn't involve cutting expenses. I started an online business that allows me to work from anywhere and afford what I want.

Get creative and find ways to save money that works for you. Saving for a vehicle can be long and difficult, so celebrate your milestones.

Did you reach your monthly savings goal? Treat yourself to a small reward, like a movie night or a fancy dinner.

Stick to Your Plan and Re-Evaluate Monthly Payments

Remember to stick to your savings plan. Avoid unnecessary expenses and keep track of your progress. Adjust your plan accordingly if you can save less than planned.

Once you've been saving for a while, re-evaluating your plan is a good idea.

Have your monthly expenses changed? Do you need to adjust your savings goals before you start car shopping?

Take some time to assess your personal finance and make any necessary changes.

Saved Enough to Buy a Car? It's Time to choose a New or Old

The decision to buy a car, a new vehicle, or an old one is a decision that ultimately depends on your preferences and financial situation.

A new and used vehicle has advantages and disadvantages, so weighing the pros and cons before deciding is important.

New Car

Used Car

Manufacturer's warranty

Lower purchase price

Newest features and technology

Slower depreciation

Higher purchase cost

Potential for higher interest rates

Lower interest rates for financing

Higher maintenance costs due to wear

Saving for a New Vehicle? Here's What You Need to Consider

New cars have a manufacturer's warranty, are generally more reliable, and have modern safety features. You can also choose the exact make, model, and color you want and customize the car.

However, they are often more expensive than used cars, losing value quickly after being driven off the lot.

These cars typically have higher auto insurance rates, premiums, and registration fees.

Saving for a Used Car? Here's What You Should Note

Used cars generally cost less money than new cars. Used cars have already gone through their initial depreciation period, so they typically lose value slower than new cars.

You can often find good deals on used cars that are only a few years old and have low mileage. 

However, used cars have a greater risk of mechanical issues, and you may need to spend more on repairs and maintenance.

3 Tips for Saving Enough Money for a Used Car

Saving for a used car still requires some precious knowledge. It doesn't matter which model you're getting; some things still apply to virtually any used vehicle.

Take close note of the following advice to ensure a stress-free purchase:

1. Research the Private Seller and Check the Vehicle History

Look up the make and model of the car you're interested in and read reviews from reputable sources.

Check for common problems or issues that car owners have reported, and find out what to look for when inspecting the car.

2. Check the Vehicle History Report and Inspect the Car

Inspecting a vehicle history report is a must for car shopping because it provides valuable information about the car's past, which can help you make an informed decision about whether or not to buy the car.

A vehicle history report typically contains information such as:

  • Accident history: The report will indicate if the car has been involved in any accidents, and if so, the extent of the damage and how it was repaired. And most importantly, whether it's been driving for over a decade.
  • Title history: The report will show if the car has a clean title or has been salvaged or rebuilt, which could affect the car's value and safety.
  • Service history: The report will show if the car has been regularly serviced and maintained, which indicates how well the car has been taken care of.
  • Ownership history: The report will show how many previous owners the car has had, which can give you an idea of how much the car has been driven and how well it has been maintained.


Negotiating for a used car can be intimidating, but with the right approach, you can get a good deal while feeling confident in your purchase.

Here are some steps to help you negotiate for a used car:

  • Research the car's value: Before you begin negotiations, research its value by checking its market value, condition, and mileage. Many websites can give you an average price.
  • Be respectful and courteous: When negotiating, be respectful and courteous to the seller. Being friendly and professional can help create a positive atmosphere and make negotiations more productive.
  • Start with a low offer: Start by offering a lower purchase price than you're willing to pay. This gives you room to negotiate and can also help you determine how flexible the seller is willing to be.
  • Use evidence to support your offer: Use your research, vehicle history report, and inspection findings. This shows the seller that your purchase price is reasonable and that you've done your homework.
  • Be willing to walk away: If the seller isn't willing to negotiate and wants more money, be willing to walk away. Remember that plenty of used cars are on the market, and you can always find another one that better fits your needs and budget.

What To Do After Saving For A Car: Financing or Leasing?

You managed to save some money but still need more to get that car? You have two main options: financing or leasing.

Financing involves taking out an auto loan to purchase the car, while leasing involves paying for a leased car for a certain period. Let's explore the two options:

Financing a New Car

One of the main advantages of financing a car is that you own it outright once you pay off the auto loan.

This means you can customize and modify the car as you please, and you don't have to worry about mileage limits, so you can drive the car as much as you want.

Also, remember the sales tax. A sales tax will add more expenses to your car, so count that into a loan request.

The monthly payment is typically higher than the lease payment, and you are responsible for all maintenance and repair costs once the warranty expires. Additionally, the car's value will depreciate over time, which could affect its resale value.

Leasing a Car

On the other hand, one of the main advantages of leasing a car is that the monthly payment is usually lower than loan payments, which can be more affordable for some.

You also have lower maintenance costs since the car is under warranty, and you can easily upgrade to a new car every few years.

However, you don't own the car, and you'll have to return it at the end of the lease term and get the next car if you want.

There are also often mileage limits in lease agreements, and you'll have to pay additional costs if you exceed them.

You may have to pay fees if the car has excessive wear and tear at the end of the lease. Best Loan Options for Getting a Car

Best Loan Options if You're Unable to Save Money for a Car

Many Car loan options are available for buying a car. The best option depends on your financial situation and money and how fast you need the loan approved. Here are some loan options to consider:

I recommend that you build your credit before looking at these options.

Bank or Credit Union Loans

Banks and credit unions offer loans to help you finance a car purchase.

While banks may have stricter requirements for loan approval, they may offer more flexible terms and better insurance premiums.

On the other hand, credit unions may offer more personalized service and be willing to work with you if you have a less-than-perfect credit history.

It's important to compare loan options from banks and credit unions to find the one that best fits your needs and budget.

Personal Loans

Personal loans can also be used to finance the purchase of a car outright, and they offer some advantages over traditional auto loans.

Personal loans typically have fixed interest and monthly loan payments in automatic transfers, making budgeting and planning for loan repayment easier.

They also usually don't require collateral or a checking account, meaning you don't have to use your car as security for the loan.

However, personal loans may have higher interest rates than traditional car loans, especially for low credit scores

Home Equity Loans or Lines of Credit

 Home equity loans and lines of credit are other options for a car payment.

These loans use the equity in your home as collateral, which means that you are borrowing against the value of your home.

Home equity loans usually have fixed interest and fixed monthly payments, while lines of credit have variable interest rates and a flexible monthly car payment structure. 

Credit Cards

While using a credit card to purchase a car is possible, it's generally not recommended as it can have some significant downsides.

Firstly, credit cards typically have much higher interest than car or personal loans, so you could pay much more over time, especially if you don't keep up with the monthly payments. 

Additionally, credit cards usually have a lower credit limit, so you may only be able to cover part of the cost of the car with a credit card. 

Peer-To-Peer Lending

One of the advantages of P2P lending for purchasing a car is that it can be more flexible than traditional loans, as borrowers and investors can negotiate the loan terms.

Additionally, P2P loans can often be processed more quickly than traditional loans, which can be helpful if you need to purchase a car quickly.

P2P lending can come with some risks, including the possibility of default or fraud.

Manufacturer Financing

Some car manufacturers offer financing options to customers through their lending divisions. These loans may come with special promotions or incentives, such as zero-percent interest for a limited time.

Wrapping Up

Whether you prefer a sleek new car or a reliable old car, remember to take your time, research, and make an informed decision.

Our tips and tricks to save and get money for a car will get you one step closer to car ownership.

So, buckle up and get ready to hit the road in your new car.


How Can I Determine My Budget for a Car?

Understanding your budget is crucial. Assess your monthly income and expenses to determine how much you can comfortably set aside for your car fund and any potential loan payments. This will help you develop a realistic savings goal for your desired car.

What Steps Should I Take to Save for a Big Down Payment?

Start by saving consistently for a substantial down payment. This could involve cutting unnecessary expenses, opening a dedicated savings account, or starting a side hustle. A larger down payment reduces the loan amount and potentially secures better loan terms.

How Important Is Credit When Saving for a Car?

Before making a significant purchase like a car, fixing any errors on your credit report is essential. A good credit score can help you secure a loan with a better interest rate, ultimately reducing the overall cost of the car.

Should I Consider Refinancing My Car Loan?

Refinancing your car loan after a year could be a strategic move. It can help lower your monthly car payments if you've improved your credit score or market rates have dropped.

Is It Better to Buy a New or Used Car?

Deciding between a new or used car depends on your needs and financial situation. New cars often have warranties and the latest features but can be more expensive. Used cars are generally cheaper but might require more maintenance. Evaluate the pros and cons of each before deciding.

What Should I Look for When Buying a Used Car?

When purchasing a used car, research the private seller and check the vehicle's history report. Inspect the car thoroughly for any issues and negotiate the price based on your findings and the car's value.

How Do Financing and Leasing Differ?

You can consider financing or leasing if you cannot save the total amount for a car. Financing involves taking out a loan to buy the car, while leasing is akin to renting the vehicle for a set period. Each option has benefits and downsides, depending on your financial situation and preferences.

What Loan Options Are Available for Car Purchases?

Several loan options are available, including bank or credit union loans, personal loans, home equity loans or lines of credit, credit cards, peer-to-peer lending, and manufacturer financing. Each option has different terms and conditions, so it's essential to research and compare to find the best fit for your financial needs.

About the Author Eddy Ballesteros

Welcome to Credit Plush! Credit is something I'll always enjoy writing about. I've helped many people improve their credit scores and start their credit repair businesses.