What Size Car Payment
Can I Afford?

AutoCenters Tips: How to Buy a Used Car and (Really) Stay on Budget

Responsible car-shopping is critical when you’re trying to stick to a budget; and while it’s not quite as fun to carry around a list of numbers when you’re looking for your next car, truck, or SUV, it’s going to be better for your finances in the long run.

But knowing your numbers can be hard, especially if you’re paid hourly, if you make your money in tips or you work multiple jobs, or if you’re just not sure how much you can spend per month and still have a comfortable about of money for the rest of your bills–and the fun stuff, too! The team at AutoCenters Herculaneum is here to help you navigate your future of responsible car shopping.

How Much Car Can I Afford?

If you’re asking yourself this question, you are on the best path toward responsible car-buying. And while personal finances are just that–personal–there are some smart recommendations you can keep in mind while you’re shopping, to make sure that you get the most for your money, and that you stay on budget.

It’s commonly suggested that Kirkwood, Webster Groves and Ballwin shoppers pay no more than 35% of their annual income for the total purchase price of a vehicle. From there, one of the most moderate recommendations is something called the “20/4/10” guideline:

  • Put down 20% of the vehicle’s price as a downpayment
  • Choose a car loan term that’s 4 years or less
  • Keep monthly payments to 10% or less of your monthly income

All of this might feel a little overwhelming, but don’t worry. We took advantage of Money Under 30‘s car loan calculator, and used the median income for St. Louis (about $50,000/year) to figure out what a responsible car payment plan looks like for our area.

A 20% downpayment on our $17,500 car would be $3,500–and that could be cash, trade-in, or some combination of the two. The more you can put down at signing, the less interest you’ll pay in the long run, and the lower your payments will be.

A 4-year auto loan on our $17,500 car with no downpayment would come out to about $365/month. But, when you factor in that 20% downpayment, it goes down to just $291/month. Put more down, and that same 48-month loan gets more and more affordable.

10% of your median income is where it gets a little tricky; because (based on our estimated $50K income) your maximum monthly payments could comfortably be about $416. However, that ten-percent recommendation is based on financing payment, insurance payment, and any other costs that may be associated with your vehicle, combined. So, be sure to take that all into account when you’re shopping around for your next car, truck, or SUV in St. Louis.

Affordable Used Cars at AutoCenters Herculaneum

Or, you could just shop our online inventory near Arnold, Fenton and Festus, and find your best deals and most competitive prices on dozens of top-shelf pre-owned vehicles.

You can fiddle with your numbers on the car-loan calculator, or with our online payment estimator, to see what you want to pay or what the most affordable payment would be. Click into our 60-second guaranteed pre-approval program to learn about how easy it could be to get qualified and approved for no credit or bad credit auto financing near St. Louis.

AutoCenters Herculaneum is located at: 1225 McNutt St • Herculaneum, MO 63048
AutoCenters Herculaneum 38.253160, -90.405330.