How Much Car Can You Afford?
If you are interested in buying a car and you are set on leasing, it is very important that you maintain a good balance between the type of ride you desire and your ability to finance it. Remember that even though you may qualify for a car loan, burdening yourself with one that is beyond your payment ability can easily destabilize your financial status. To rightly determine what you can afford, it is important to create a budget. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating said budget. (See also: Guide to Buying a Used Car Without Going Crazy)
The 20% Rule of Thumb
The general rule on car payments is that they should not exceed 20% of your take-home or net monthly income. This value is inclusive of car insurance, repairs, and monthly payments. The value should also include every vehicle you own. Even if you do not take care of other major monthly expenses such as rent, you should still stick to the rule. Obviously, if you will be making a full cash payment for your new car, you will not need to apply the 20% rule. But the rest of you, take note.
Your Interest Rate Matters
Your credit rating will help determine the interest rate you will be required to pay. If you have a poor credit rating, you will most likely end up paying a higher interest rate than someone with a good credit rating. It is important that you factor your loan's interest rate into your budget, so that you can choose a car that truly matches with what you can afford. Different times of the year also have different market interest rates. If rates are lower, your monthly payment will be reduced, and you might be able to afford a car with a higher value than you initially thought (as long as it is still within your budget). This is also one reason why so many people talk about trying to achieve a perfect credit score.
You Should Make a Down Payment
Not so long ago, customers were required to make a down payment before getting a car. Today, however, many car dealers are willing to offer cars even with no down payment. In spite of this change, it will work out best for you if you make a substantial down payment, since you will be able to afford a car with a better value and still stick to the 20% limit.
Once you have determined how much car you can comfortably afford, it is important that you stick to your budget when you step into the show room. This is because you will most likely find persuasive salespeople, most of whom work on commission and are therefore only interested in getting the highest pay. Most of these salesmen are least concerned about whether or not you can afford a particular car. It is therefore important that you remain adamant in the midst of all the persuasion to avoid spending money that you do not have.
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