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Jun 19, 2020 10:50 AM EDT

Best Budget Cars for College Students


Best Budget Cars for College Students

(Photo : Best Budget Cars for College Students)

Financial advice aimed at new college students abounds. Deciding on the options can get overwhelming. What advice should students listen to and what should they ignore? Generally, students should use advice that helps them learn to maintain a budget and avoid debt as much as possible. And, it's always a good idea to avoid advice that seems to be aimed at any goal besides providing honest help. Here we'll look at one piece of financial advice that can help college students avoid financial debt: avoiding auto loans.

Why Choose a Budget Car?

Around 44.7 million Americans have student loan debt, including students in school and those who have already graduated. Most people can't afford a college education out of pocket and get loans to pay their tuition and other expenses. What this means, in terms of budgeting, is that college students are already carrying a debt load for college expenses. It's important not to let this debt load get higher with additional, unnecessary loans, such as auto loans for upscale vehicles. There will be time for that after college. Students who feel they need a car but aren't sure how to buy one without getting a loan can use the following tips for help at Car Buying Strategies.

Where to Look for a Budget Car

One of the best ways to find a budget car is to ask around. Talk to friends, family, and coworkers, and ask them to put the word out. Often, older adults have vehicles sitting in their garages they aren't driving. These vehicles aren't actively for sale, and the owners may not even think about selling them until someone they know asks. The main benefit of looking for vehicles this way is that you aren't dealing with car dealerships, which are known for trying to upsell customers to vehicles they can't afford. Value Penguin lists some benefits of buying a vehicle from a private party, the most important of which is the fact that a private-party seller won't try to talk buyers into a different vehicle they can't afford.

How to Pay for a Budget Car

No matter where a vehicle is purchased, the key to staying away from an auto loan is having enough money saved to buy a car outright. But, having cash has benefits during the car buying process, too. One is that, with cash, it's easier to stay within a budget. Auto dealerships especially are good at talking people into buying cars that don't fit their budget. They do this by having their own in-house financing options and creating loans with "affordable" monthly payments.

The trouble is that many college students don't have a monthly budget set up and don't realize until after the fact that their "affordable" payment doesn't fit their income. According to US News, this is one of the best reasons for paying cash: if you have $5,000 in cash to buy a car, that's all you'll spend. Having cash on hand is even better when buying from a private party, as these sellers are more likely to lower a vehicle's price when buyers have the cash in hand.

Learning to stick to a budget and live within your means is a challenge for people of all ages. However, college students shouldn't feel overwhelmed by budgeting advice. They just need to add good habits one at a time until those good habits add up to a lifetime of good financial decisions.

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