Cars & Your Finances: 5 Things You Need To Know

Anyone who has ever considered purchasing a car will know that doing so requires a substantial financial commitment. In fact, aside from their home, a car is arguably the most expensive purchase anyone will make – and then there are the ongoing costs for gas, maintenance, and repairs to keep in mind.

Unfortunately, understanding exactly how your car can impact your personal budget – or even if you can buy a car at all – can be challenging, as there are more than a few myths and misconceptions swirling around the process. Below, we’ve looked to cut through to the basics of buying, maintaining, and repairing a vehicle; the facts you should always keep in mind when considering how you can integrate all elements of car ownership into your finances.

#1 – Cars are compatible with most budgets

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The fact that purchasing and running a car is expensive is well-known; so well-known, indeed, that many people living on a tighter budget presume that a car is outside of their reach. However, it may not necessarily always be the case, because buying and maintaining a vehicle can be completely flexible.

While there are costs you will inevitably incur, these costs can be entirely customized to suit your budget. There’s no average amount that a car costs; every individual creates their own usage pattern and chooses a particular model that suits their needs. If you’re short on funds, you could opt for a smaller vehicle to keep gas costs down, or shop around to find the cheapest possible repair service – there are tweaks that can be made at every point.

Finally, if you do not currently have a car and are concerned about the impact on your budget, remember to factor in the fact that you won’t sustain car costs on top of your existing budget. The car will actually replace expenses in your budget; sections you usually reserve for other forms of transport, such as taxi fares or bus passes, so always ensure you remove these from your outgoings when buying a car.

#2 – Be cautious of hybrid-related cost claims

While we have tried to keep these points general and applicable to all, there is one finer detail we need to highlight when discussing cars and personal finances: beware the hybrid.

Hybrid cars have long been marketed as a cost-effective solution to standard petrol or diesel, but this claim has been thrown into doubt over recent years, as experts point out gas alone is not the only cost involved in car ownership – and that, all in, hybrid cars are not necessarily the most affordable choice. Hybrid cars are still an excellent choice for environmental reasons, but the commonly discussed cost benefits are highly contested. As a result, if you’re considering moving to a hybrid for cost concerns alone, be cautious and ensure the math checks out before you commit.

#3 – You can obtain financing for a new car even with bad credit

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For most people, financing is the only way to buy a car – saving the entire cost is extremely time-consuming, not to mention that it’s next to impossible if you need a car in a relatively short period of time.

Financing is, therefore, the most sensible solution for most car buyers, but obtaining that financing is often a cause of concern. It is often thought that you can only access car financing if your credit score is high and your credit record clean – but this isn’t actually the case. There are plenty of dealerships which ensure that buying a car with bad credit is more than possible, so if you need financing for a new car, you should be able to access it regardless of your credit history. The reason financing is generally more flexible with cars is because a vehicle is an asset with an intrinsic value, which means lenders are more willing to accept applications than they would be for a loan used for non-specific purposes.

#4 – There are ways and means of managing repair costs

If there is one ongoing cost concern that deters people from buying a car more than any other, it’s the fear of repair costs. In truth, it’s impossible to completely assuage this concern; repairs can be incredibly expensive, which can place a significant strain on personal finances.

However, repair costs are not just something you have to accept – they can be managed. For example, proper maintenance can help to prevent the need for repairs, or you can look into insurance plans that will cover the cost of standard repairs rather than repairs related to an accident only. Furthermore, many cars – both new and used – can be bought with guarantees intact, which covers the cost of repairs for a set period of time; you can then use this time to build a fund that can cover the cost of repairs when the guarantee has expired.

#5 – DIY repairs and maintenance can end up costing you more

Pixabay / CC0 Licence

If your car develops an issue, it’s incredibly tempting to head to YouTube or Google the problem in the hopes of finding a way of fixing the problem yourself rather than consulting a professional. Similarly, you may want to consider conducting routine maintenance yourself also, again turning to the internet rather than a qualified mechanic. There are plenty of guides that will help you in this effort, too – but it’s crucial to be extremely cautious.

While a DIY maintenance job or repair can be more affordable in the moment, the simple truth is that cars are incredibly complex, and it can be next to impossible to know all is well unless you are a qualified mechanic. By working on your car yourself, there’s a real chance that you’ll still experience breakdowns or poor performance in future, so you’ll need to consult a professional anyway. As a result, you could find yourself spending twice: firstly on the materials you’ll need for your DIY effort, and then paying a professional for the same work at a later date. It’s therefore preferable to leave the auto shop work to the experts; it may be more expensive in the moment, but is the far more cost-effective choice in the long run.

In conclusion

It is undeniable that buying and owning a car can be expensive, but by keeping the above points in mind, you should be able to enjoy the delights of car ownership without any unnecessary financial strain.

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