5 Steps to Help You Purchase Your Dream Car
Everyone has a dream car. Some people fantasize about luxury, while others imagine themselves racing down the Autobahn in a sports car. Whatever your dream car is, you can have it – eventually. If you are financially set, you can afford your fantasy wheels now. If you are like most people and struggling to make ends meet, it’s going to take a little effort and discipline on your part. If you take care of your finances, they will take care of you, so follow these five steps to save for your ultimate automobile.
1. Set Up a Budget
The first thing you must do is set up a household budget so you understand how much money you have coming in and how much money you have going out. As mentioned above, getting the car of your dreams will take some discipline, and it’s time to see whether your money works for or against you. Purchase personal budgeting software and take an afternoon to sit at your computer. Input into the program your monthly income and expenses. Don’t forget anything. Include the money you spend on entertainment, morning coffee stops, drinking with friends, etc. Categorize absolutely everything.
2. Take an Honest Look at It
Once done, sit back and take an honest look at the results. Are you in the black or in the red? Do you have enough income to cover your expenses, including fun stuff, and still have some leftover? If you don’t, you won’t be able to save for your dream car, much less should you buy it in the first place. Even if you drive a relatively new vehicle now, your new car payments will be more than what you pay most likely. If you don’t have wiggle room in your budget, you cannot take on more debt. Really look at the numbers so you understand your financial limits. Don’t ruin your credit buying your dream automobile.
3. Determine Where You Can Curb Spending
If you are in the red or only have a pittance to save after your bills are paid, take an honest look at your spending habits. Do you really need to stop at the coffeehouse each morning and purchase a $5 coffee drink? Do you really need to eat lunch out every day? Do you really need to go to the movies every weekend? Do the math for these three scenarios alone. A $5 coffee every morning is $35 a week if you buy it on the weekends, too. Lunch out Monday through Friday could be anywhere from $25 to $50 a week. A weekend movie is likely $20 a week. Find ways to cut your spending so you have more to save.
4. Determine How Much You Can Set Aside Each Month
Once you’ve worked your budget so it’s in the black and you have money left over, do some research on your dream vehicle and figure out how much money you can and should set aside each month toward it. Set a savings goal that not only includes an amount but also a timeframe. If you don’t put a time limit on your savings plan, you’ll slip back into your old habit of getting that coffee every morning and you may never reach your savings amount goal. Don’t stretch your budget too thin, however. Save what you can comfortably without being short on the money you need for expenses and unexpected emergencies.
5. Open a Separate Savings Account
Open a separate account for your automobile savings. The reason behind this is two-fold. One, you don’t want to accidentally spend that money without realizing it, and you may do so if it’s mixed in with your checking account funds. Two, if you “make payments” to the savings account each month, in other words, set it up in your budget as a monthly expense, you’ll be sure to put the money in there without a second thought. Don’t think of it as a savings account. Think of it as another bill that you must pay without fail. This helps you stay disciplined in your savings goal, and a savings account often comes with interest.
You can get the car of your dreams if you are smart with your money. Once you’ve saved enough for the down payment, be smart with the financing, too. Shop wisely for your dream car and only purchase it from the place that offers you the best deal. Don’t get starry-eyed.