Buying a Car when You’re Broke

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Even with poor credit.


Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.

, - November 2, 2018

What do you do if you’re broke, dealing with bad credit and need a vehicle? The trick is to get a cheap car or a small car loan when you’re broke. So, how do you go about doing that? Read on for our tips.

Need a Car for Work but on a Budget?

If you don’t have a job or steady income, you can’t take out an auto loan. Even subprime lenders, who specialize in working with car buyers with bad credit, check to see if you can afford a car payment, and if you can’t prove you have the income to support one, you likely aren’t getting approved. But, if you follow these seven steps you stand a better chance of getting yourself behind the wheel:

  1. Look at all options first – How badly do you need this car? If you can utilize public transportation or afford ridesharing services, you might be better off with either one. Or, can you carpool with someone who has a vehicle? Make sure you weigh all of your options before jumping into the car buying game.
  2. Research vehicles – Once you know you need a car, it’s time to do some research on used vehicles. Look at the costs, reliability, and reviews that other owners have experienced and shared with the same type of vehicle.
  3. Don’t buy extra features – Don’t get too picky on which features you want. The trick is to go for the basic necessities. Options can be tempting, but if you can’t afford them or don’t have a use for them, they aren’t worth thinking about.
  4. Budget accordingly – Subprime lenders have a minimum amount they’re willing to finance. Usually, $5,000 is the lowest they consider for financing a car. If you know how much you can afford for a monthly payment even while being broke, you can use our Car Loan Calculator to get an estimated financing cost.
  5. Pick reliable brands – Some car brands are more reliable than others. Brands like Toyota and Honda have consistently been rated most reliable car brands, where luxury brand BMW vehicles are known for needing expensive repairs. Even if you do find a cheap luxury vehicle, it’s best to do some research on how much it might cost to keep it up and running.
  6. Have the car inspected – As with any used car, have a mechanic take a closer look at the vehicle before you finalize the purchase. Even if everything looks and feels right, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any underlying issues. It’s better to be cautious and get a second opinion from a professional.
  7. Save for a down payment – The best case scenario when you’re buying a car while broke is to save up some cash for the down payment requirement. Lenders have a minimum amount they’re willing to finance, usually this is at least $5,000, and typically require a down payment of at least $1,000 or 10 percent of the vehicle’s selling price. Because they do take the lowest number, you could only need $500 to fulfill the down payment requirement if you’re looking to finance a cheaper car. Start putting some money aside, and if you can, try and reach $1,000.

Bottom line: the more money you save now, the better off you’re going to be when it comes time to finance a vehicle.

Need Help Finding Financing?

It’s not easy finding affordable financing when you’re broke. While it may seem like all hope is lost, don’t give up, CarsDirect wants to help! We work with a nationwide network of dealers that have the lending resources to get you the financing you need, even if you’re dealing with poor credit or are on a tight budget. Just fill out our simple car loan request form to get started today.

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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.

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