Don’t Let a New Car Make You Car Poor: Tips for Saving Money

Buying a new car can be an exciting and thrilling experience. It may even feel like a rite of passage, especially if it’s your first car. However, if you’re not careful, a new car can quickly lead you down the path of being car poor.

What is Car Poor?

If you’ve never heard the term “car poor” before, it refers to when a large portion of your income goes towards owning and maintaining a car, leaving you without enough money for other important expenses like housing, food, and healthcare. Essentially, you become financially strained because you’re spending too much on your car.

The Dangers of Being Car Poor

The dangers of being car poor are numerous. For one, it can leave you struggling to make ends meet, which can make it difficult to save for important life goals like retirement or emergency savings. Additionally, if you’re not able to keep up with your car payments, you may end up losing your new car or damaging your credit score.

How to Avoid Being Car Poor?

The good news is that there are several ways to avoid being car poor. First and foremost, it’s important to budget for a realistic car payment before you start shopping. This means taking into account all of your monthly expenses and deciding how much you can actually afford to spend on a car payment.

How to Avoid Excessive Car Payments

Budgeting for a Realistic Car Payment

One way to avoid excessive car payments is to budget for a realistic car payment. This means looking at your monthly expenses and deciding how much you can afford to spend on a car payment. Experts recommend that your total monthly car expenses (car payment, insurance, gas, and maintenance) should be no more than 15% of your monthly take-home pay.

Buying a Used Car Instead of a New One

Another way to avoid excessive car payments is to consider buying a used car instead of a new one. While a new car may seem like a great idea, it can also be expensive. Used cars are often much cheaper and can still provide reliable transportation. Plus, if you buy a car that’s a few years old, you’ll avoid the steepest part of the depreciation curve.

Minimizing Your Monthly Car Expenses

Finally, you can minimize your monthly car expenses by being smart about how you use your car. For example, you can carpool with coworkers or friends, take public transportation or bike to work if possible, or even consider downsizing to one car if you have multiple vehicles.

How to Manage Car Debt?

Understanding Car Debt and Its Impact on Finances

Car debt can be a real burden on your finances. Not only do you have to make a monthly car payment, but you’ll also have to pay for insurance, gas, and maintenance. All of these costs can add up quickly and leave you feeling financially strapped.

Tips for Paying Off Car Debt Faster

If you’re struggling with car debt, there are several things you can do to pay off your car faster. One option is to make extra payments each month, which will help you pay down your balance more quickly. Another option is to refinance your car loan to get a lower interest rate, which can save you money in the long run.

When to Consider Refinancing Your Car Loan

Refinancing your car loan may sound intimidating, but it can actually be a smart financial move under the right circumstances. If you’re struggling to keep up with your current car payments or if your credit score has improved since you took out your original loan, refinancing may be a good option for you.

The Truth about How Cars Keep You Poor

The High Cost of Owning an Expensive Car

While it may be tempting to buy an expensive car, it’s important to consider the long-term costs. Expensive cars often come with higher maintenance costs and insurance rates, which can quickly add up over time. Additionally, if you finance an expensive car, you may end up paying much more in interest over the life of the loan.


The Effects of Car Depreciation on Your Finances

Car depreciation is a fact of life, and it can have a significant impact on your finances. New cars can lose up to 20% of their value in the first year alone, which means that you could end up owing more on your car loan than the car is actually worth.

Why Buying a Good Used Car Can Be a Smarter Choice Than Buying a New?

Buying a good used car can be a smarter choice than buying a new one for several reasons. For one, used cars are often much cheaper than new cars, even if they’re only a few years old. Additionally, used cars have already gone through their steepest depreciation curve, which means that you’re less likely to owe more on your car loan than the car is worth.

Expert Tips for Car Purchases and Financing

How to Negotiate a Fair Price for a New or Used Car

Negotiating a fair price for a new or used car can be a tricky business, but there are several things you can do to make the process smoother. For one, it’s important to do your research before you go to the dealership. This means knowing the fair price for the car you want, as well as any dealer incentives that may be available.

Understanding the True Cost of a Car Purchase

When you’re purchasing a new car, it’s important to understand the true cost. This means looking beyond the sticker price and considering other factors like financing costs, insurance rates, and maintenance costs. By doing your research ahead of time, you can avoid getting caught off guard by unexpected expenses.

Expert Advice on Car Financing, Leases, and Loans

If you’re financing a car, there are several things you should know before you sign on the dotted line. For one, it’s important to understand the different types of auto loans that are available, as well as the pros and cons of each. Additionally, if you’re considering leasing a car, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the lease agreement before you sign.


Overall, buying a car can be a significant expense, but it doesn’t have to leave you car poor. By following the tips and advice outlined above, you can make smart financial decisions when it comes to your car purchase and avoid getting in over your head with car debt.


This will help you achieve financial freedom and drive the car that you need, without becoming a slave to your monthly car payment.

FAQs | Don’t Let a New Car Make You Car Poor

What does it mean to be “car poor?”

Being “car poor” means that a significant portion of your income goes towards paying for your car, leaving little money for other expenses or savings.

What is the average car payment in the US?

According to Experian, the average monthly car payment in the US is around $550.

Should I pay for a car in cash or take out a loan?

It ultimately depends on your financial situation, but paying for a car in cash can save you money on interest and prevent you from becoming “car poor.” If you do decide to take out a loan, try to pay it off as soon as possible and avoid long-term loans that can result in paying more in interest.

How often should I buy a new car?

It’s recommended to keep your car for at least 5-10 years to get the most value out of it and avoid the depreciation of a new vehicle. Don’t let the desire for a new car every few years make you “car poor.”

What is the rule of thumb for car payments?

As a general rule of thumb, your monthly car payment should not exceed 10% of your monthly income. This can help prevent you from becoming “car poor.”

Why do long-term car loans contribute to being “car poor?”

Long-term car loans, such as those lasting 66 months or more, can result in paying more in interest and potentially owing more than what the car is worth. This can leave you in a cycle of being “car poor” and struggling to make payments on a depreciating asset.

Should I buy a luxury car or a more affordable option?

It’s important to prioritize your financial health over the desire for a really nice car. Consider the cost of maintenance, insurance, and depreciation before taking on a high monthly payment for a luxury car. Opting for a more affordable option can help prevent you from becoming “car poor.”

What is the difference between a car note and a monthly payment for a new vehicle?

A car note refers to the amount of money you owe on your car loan, while a monthly payment for a new vehicle refers to the amount you pay each month to repay the loan. It’s important to stay aware of both amounts to avoid becoming “car poor.”

Can paying for a car in cash save me money in the long run?

Yes, paying for a car in cash can save you money on interest payments and prevent you from becoming “car poor” by not taking on a monthly payment. However, make sure to calculate your total savings and ensure that paying for a car in cash won’t leave you without enough savings for emergencies or other financial goals.

Can taking out a new vehicle loan be similar to a mortgage?

Yes, taking out a new vehicle loan can result in a monthly payment for several years, similar to mortgage payments. However, unlike a mortgage, a car is a depreciating asset and can lose value quickly, potentially leaving you “car poor” if unable to make payments.

Derrick Wilson

Derrick Wilson

Derrick is a 55-year-old veteran life and wellness coach who specializes in helping people achieve success and happiness in their lives. Derrick is based in Bay Area and has extensive experience spanning around 30 years in helping people from all walks of life. His unique approach combines the latest scientific research with tried-and-true techniques that have helped millions of people change their lives for the better. If you're looking for help in any area of your life, he is here to help.

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