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Determining Your Budget

The first thing you should do is develop a budget to determine what vehicle you can afford. Your choices may be limited if you only have $500 in the bank and work earning an entry level wage. For example, working 20 hours a week making $10 an hour will yield a gross income (before taxes and social security withholdings) of $200 a week or about $10,400 a year. Do you want to work one year of your life to own a car? If you bought an $8,000 car with a 3 year loan and an interest rate of 7.9%, your monthly payment would be $250. With interest you would end up paying $9,000 for that car and that doesn’t include all of the expenses of owning: taxes, licenses, insurance, maintenance, unexpected repairs, or fuel. Don’t get in over your head. If you can’t put down at least 20% of the total cost, you probably can’t afford the car.