How to Afford a Car After You Graduate College

Since earning a degree and completing your college graduate programs is finally checked off your accomplishments list, the next thing to tackle after college is buying a reliable car. However, these are the elements to consider before rushing to your nearest dealership and picking out the nicest one in the lot:

  • How often will you drive after college?
  • Is it easier to take public transportation rather than commuting by car?
  • How will a car benefit your current or desired lifestyle?

Let’s say you live in New York City; traveling would be much more efficient if you were to take the subway rather than drive a car in congested traffic and then struggle to find parking – especially if you only commute to an office. On the other hand, another factor to keep in mind is the type of lifestyle you have: are you an outdoor person who likes to partake in nature-related activities, or do you prefer hanging out in the city? If the latter, you should be more inclined to buying a modest vehicle meant for flat roads as opposed to a four-wheel-drive meant to tackle rough terrains in forests or snow.

After pondering the aforementioned questions, check out the tips below that will help you afford a car after college:

Set a budget

Even though you want to buy your dream car off the bat – that might not be the best option.  Initially, and most of the time, you may need to make the sacrifice of settling for a vehicle that satisfies your basic needs. Stick with your budget right now and be rest assured that in the future, there’s always an opportunity to upgrade. Also, keep in mind you will also have to pay for the cost of repairs, maintenance, gas, and insurance along with the stamped price on the car.

Start saving now

If you aren’t saving for a car, start saving now! Money doesn’t appear out of thin air. There are many money saving apps and financial advice from banks or professionals that can guide you towards making this future investment. Every penny towards your car fund counts, and before you know it, you will have saved enough for making a down-payment.

Consider buying a used car

Don’t retreat from the idea of buying a used car. Used car nowadays work just as efficiently as new cars, despite lacking new technology and fancy features. When choosing a used car, make sure it has low-mileage and little evidence of wear and tear.  Furthermore, dealerships often offer special deals for college graduates programs that help increase their chances of affording a reliable car. Lastly, don’t be afraid to negotiate prices with the dealership. You could save yourself at least $1000!


Leasing a car is making payments for it over a certain period of time and then returning it or buying it after the lease is over. Think of it as renting, but you have the choice to keep what has been rented. Most of the time, a car lease will last roughly two to three years. If you don’t want to buy the car you have leased, you can choose to lease another one instead.

Take out an auto loan

Financing a car is a route that many people take – but it’s a decision that should be made with caution. What you need to watch out for with auto loans is the interest that accumulates with paying it back over time. If you cannot afford to pay off your loan within a specified period, an auto loan will only rack up more debt under your name and put a dent in your credit score. Furthermore, it’s not the best idea to pay interest on a car loan since cars always depreciate! By the time you paid off your interest, you may have paid more than what the car was actually worth.

Ask for additional financial help

If possible, ask your parents to help out with financial matters or even co-sign with you to pay off a car. Make sure to pay back your parents as quickly as possible if choosing this option. As an adult, it’s normal to feel that everything needs to be done on our own. But sometimes asking for help is necessary, and shouldn’t be perceived as a negative or immature action.

By extensively researching the options that enable you to afford a car, you will eventually come to make the best decision when finally investing in your future ride. Pat yourself on the back for surpassing such an incredible milestone!

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