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Budgeting Tips to Save For Your Down Payment

Finance | 08/21/2023 19:31

You have almost certainly heard the term “down payment”, whether you are looking to buy a car, a house, or another large purchase. But coming up with the money for a down payment can seem daunting, if not downright impossible. So how can you save money for a down payment on your car and make your dreams come true?


Here are our top budgeting tips to help you make a down payment on a new car.

What is a down payment?

A down payment is money that you pay upfront when making a large purchase and getting a loan. The higher your down payment is the less you will need to take out from a lender. Down payments are typically referred to as a percentage of the total purchase price. When buying a car experts recommend putting down 20% of the purchase price as a down payment. 


While many lenders require a down payment of at least 10%, it’s a good idea to meet the suggested 20% if you can swing it. 

What are the advantages of making a down payment?

You will have a better chance of getting approved.

Many lenders want to see a down payment, and if you are not able to make one it may be a dealbreaker for a lot of lenders out there.


Your monthly payment will be lower.

The higher your down payment is, the less you will need to take out from a bank. This means that your monthly payments will be significantly less than if you chose to make a small down payment (or not make a down payment at all).


Your interest rate will be lower.

Lenders tend to offer lower interest rates to those who put more money down upfront. This is because it shows the lender that you are serious about your purchase and have the capital to come up with the initial money you need. If you struggle coming up with a down payment, chances are you will struggle when it comes to making monthly payments. Lenders will still look at your credit score, income, and other factors, but a strong down payment will certainly be beneficial in getting a lower rate.


Your car has a lower chance of becoming underwater.

When a loan is underwater it means that you owe more money on your car than the car is worth. Depreciation can be a beast and if you do not make a down payment you may find that your car is depreciating at a higher rate than you are able to pay off your loan. If you owe more on your car than it is worth you have what’s called negative equity. If you were to get into an accident and total your car but had no equity in the car, the insurance company may simply pay you the fair market value of the car and leave you to pay the difference that you owe to the lender. So you could actually be making payments on a car that is no longer usable.

Should you take a “zero down” offer?

“Zero down” offers are common tactics for dealerships to get people into new cars. But these offers should always be avoided. When you put no money down it means that you have to take a loan out for the entire amount of the car, the entire amount that you will have to pay interest on. As we mentioned before, they will also charge you a higher interest rate because you are considered to be more of a risk. If you are tempted by an offer like this, sit down and do the math to understand how much more money you will be paying in the end.

How do you budget for a down payment?

We know that down payments are important, but how can we save up to make it happen? After all, in 2022 the average new car was over $46,000. That means that a 20% down payment would be over $9,000. And on top of that, you have to pay taxes, fees, and get your car registered and insured. So how can we save that much money and get the car we want?


#1. Create a budget.

It may sound silly that the number one way to budget for a down payment is to ACTUALLY create a budget, but it’s true. Many families in the United States do not have budgets that they write down and adhere to strictly, but it’s the best way to save for your goals and ensure you are not in over your head. You will need to write down all of the money you have coming into your house every month and compare it to all of the money you have going out every month. Account for every bill you have and make averages for categories that are variable, such as groceries. This will help give you insight into where your money is going every month and where you are spending the most amount of money.


#2. Set a timeline and saving goal.

Looking at your budget should give you an idea of how long it will take you to save for a down payment. Looking around at different cars you are interested in will help give you an idea of how much money you need to come up with. Make sure that the car you are looking at fits within your budget and that you will be able to make monthly payments after the down payment is made. You should aim to spend less than 20% on all of your transportation expenses every month. This means not only your car payment but gas, insurance, maintenance, parking, and any of the costs for which you may be responsible. When you know how much you need you can figure out how long it will take you to achieve your goal. A timeline will also help keep you motivated and keep your eyes on the prize: that new car you want.


#3. Look where to make your cuts.

A huge benefit of having a budget is that you can honestly look at how much you are spending every month and where it is going. Are you spending a little more on takeout than you would like? Are your subscription services like Netflix and Hulu taking a major toll on your wallet? Seeing all of these items listed out will help you determine where and how you can change your lifestyle to support your financial goals.


Groceries and food waste are a common culprit when it comes to sabotaging our budgets. Getting in the routine of mapping out your meals so you are only buying things that you will use, shopping the sales that are listed in the store circulars, and buying some items in bulk can help you save some serious cash at the grocery store. Be sure to get the store rewards card as well–there are a lot of savings you could be leaving behind. In general, any small steps that you take to reduce your spending will help you save more and more money towards your down payment.


#4. Create a savings account for your down payment.

It’s very beneficial to keep the money you are saving in a separate account. This will help you to keep track of how much you have saved. This will also allow you to contribute automatically to your savings. Many companies will allow you to split up how your paycheck is deposited, allowing you to funnel a certain percentage of your paycheck to checking and the remainder to your savings.


#5. Sell or trade in your new car.

If you already have a car, trading it in or selling it may provide a large chunk of your down payment. Trading in your car will provide ease and help you negotiate buying your new car. But you will most likely make more money if you can sell it privately and then use the cash to make the down payment. This will be more of a hassle and take more time, but it may be worth it if you can swing it. Do your research to determine if either of these moves may be right for you. 


#6. Start hustling. 

When you have cut all the costs you can but it’s not getting you to your goal fast enough, it’s time to start hustling. What side hustles could fit into your life and earn you a little more cash? Delivering food and groceries, driving for Uber, tutoring online, renting a room on Airbnb, babysitting, walking dogs, doing yard work–the options are endless. See what opportunities are in your area and do the extra until you meet your goal and can make your down payment.

That’s how you can budget and save money for your car’s down payment.

Down payments are incredibly important, and saving enough can be difficult. After all, no one wants to pinch pennies. But taking a drive in your new car will help you feel better when you reach the finish line.


If you are overpaying every month on your car payments, contact Auto Approve today! 


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