How to Buy a Car When You’re on a Budget

My first car was 5k, I drove it 5 years, and sold it for 4k

Trudy Horsting
5 min readMar 11, 2021
Photo by Michael Heuser on Unsplash

Last year, I decided to sell my first vehicle which had served me well for 5 years, and fly to my new home across the country.

I ended up selling my car for just 1,000 less than I bought it for AFTER using it for 5 years.

The new car I purchased I’m sure will give me the same sort of return.

When you’re on a budget, a fancy car is often at the bottom of your list of priorities. You may even consider leasing to avoid the cost. But by driving a used car, I was able to spend 12 times less than I would have through leasing a vehicle- even if that lease had hypothetically cost me only 200 dollars a month.

Here are some of the best tips I’ve learned regarding what to look for when buying cars on a budget.

What to Look For

1. Reliable Models

Sure, you’ll pay more for a Honda or Toyota- even used, but it will be well worth the money you save in repairs over the course of your time with the car.

My first car was a 2004 Honda Accord. My second is a 2013 Honda CRV. Over the course of the life of both of these vehicles, I have had very minimal repairs.



Trudy Horsting

Writer. PhD Candidate. Frugal Traveler. Passionate about health, personal growth, and saving money.