AutoCenters Tips: How Budget Buyers Can Get a Car That's Affordable

At AutoCenters St. Charles, we want you to be able to get into a car that you'll love. It's why we specialize in finding financing solutions for bad-credit and no-credit customers as well as stronger borrowers, and it's why we're committed to offering our best possible prices on great vehicles right near St. Louis.

But we want to be able to do more. If you want to responsibly purchase your next car, truck, or SUV without overspending (or even having a little extra money left in your budget) we've got some tips that can help.

Read on below, or contact the AutoCenters team to learn about what we can do for you. Fill out our 60-second guaranteed loan pre-approval application so see how easy it could be to lock down financing through one of our partners.

How Much Should/Can I Spend on a Car?

There are some easy ways to make sure that your purchase stays within your means: try to save up cash to make a big downpayment, and always buy pre-owned.

We've got you covered for used inventory; the rest is just balancing numbers. A common recommendation for car-buying, from finance experts, is the "20 / 4 /10" rule. And while this rule is really more of a guideline, following it as closely as possible will help you stay firmly on budget.

We used Money Under 30's car loan calculator to see how much car a St. Louis-area driver might be able to afford. We used the median income for St. Louis ($50,000/year), and the max recommended price for a vehicle came out to $17,500. Here's how that breaks down using the 20 / 4/ 10 guideline:

20% Downpayment or More

The first part is important: the more money you put down, the less you'll pay per month, and the less you'll have to pay in interest overall. A 20% downpayment/trade-in on that $17,500 would be $3,500 in cash and/or trade.

4-Year Loan Term or Less

The smaller your loan term, the fast you get out of debt, and--typically--the lower your interest rates will be. While a longer term means lower monthly payments, you'll end up spending more than you'd like in total interest paid, and that's more months of being on the hook for payments. Try to stay at or under 48 months for a car loan for the most responsible car buying. That would run you about $365/month for our example car price--or, just around $290/month if you include the recommended downpayment.

10% of Income or Less Spent on Car Payments

Car payment includes both your payments made toward monthly financing, and toward things like car insurance. Keep in mind, too, that your monthly car expenses should also account for average service and maintenance costs. Based on a $50,000 annual income, the maximum monthly payment recommended is around $416--but, by finding your best rates, putting down more money at signing, or trading in a vehicle, you can bring that number down pretty easily, as we showed you with the first two guidelines.

Affordable Used Cars at AutoCenters St. Charles

We're proud to be a top local resource for St. Louis drivers to find the no credit or bad credit auto financing information that they need. You can find dozens of quality, comfortable, and stylish pre-owned vehicles for sale in inventory, so you can stay on budget and still shop happy.


Dan Jennings

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