Buying a Used Car Like a Money-Saving Expert

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated November 10, 2017

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Money Saving Tips
July 8, 2015

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Your car is more than just a mode of transportation; it’s also an investment. By thinking of buying a car in this light and then adjusting the way you shop, you can find a used car like a money-saving aficionado.

Use a car payment calculator to determine how much you can afford before you begin shopping for a used car. A car payment calculator can be found online via car lot and bank websites. By entering a few numbers, you can determine how much you can spend on a used car and still get the payments you need to fit your budget.

When you find a car you like, avoid overpaying by checking its Kelley Blue Book value or its NADA Guide value before you put money down or sign any papers. Both of these companies offer interactive tools on their websites to let users easily calculate vehicle values. You can also use sites like to check prices on local used cars. In addition to details about the vehicle, the tools ask for your zip code because the value estimates provided are based on your location, giving you an accurate estimate of how much similar cars are selling for in your area.

When it comes to a car’s condition, take the time to do a little research. If the car is in perfect condition, determining its value is pretty straightforward. However, you can get some great deals if you are willing to take care of the repairs. Almost anything can be fixed if you get the car for a low enough price.

  • Determine the car’s value in its current condition.
  • Compare its current condition-based value to its value in excellent condition.
  • Check with your mechanic to determine estimated repair costs.
  • Add the car’s selling price to the repair costs.
  • If the damaged vehicle’s total value is lower than its value in excellent condition, it can be worthwhile to buy the car at the reduced price and then get it fixed on your own.

Making a smart financial decision when buying a used car takes a bit of effort on your part, but it is worth the extra effort. If your personal finances don’t leave room for a new car payment or if your credit score is sub-par, buying used can provide you with reliable transportation that fits perfectly into your budget.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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