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Looking to buy a car, but short on cash? Learn our tips and tricks to snage a great deal on a reliable car and avoid a lemon!

You may have noticed that things have been just a bit quiet here recently.

Life has been keeping us busy as we've have been in car hunt mode.

While the timing of the car's demise wasn't great, the good news is that we have enough in our savings system to cover purchasing a new car.

The bad news is that this has meant that until we buy the car, we have been sharing and that has given me less time to write.

Buying a Car with Cash

Looking to buy a car, but short on cash? Learn our tips and tricks to snag a great deal on a reliable car and avoid a lemon! #family #money #moneytips #savings #fi

Our goal is to pay for this car with cash.  


Having no car payments since we paid off our previous car loan has been a huge blessing. 

Here are some of the big wins we've had: 

  • Smaller monthly expenses. Having a car payment is usually a big chunk on many people’s budget. We had to deal with for it ourselves when we were first married. I remember the relief once we paid it off know that we had some breathing room in our monthly cash flow.
  • More freedom to allocate money. That few hundred dollars that we don’t pay for the car loan has been reallocated to other goals. Yes, some of it is being redirected towards our car replacement fund, but it’s also giving us a bit more fun money and charity money. The point is we can decide month to month what we want to do with it.
  • No more pressure to go to the dealership. Now that the car is paid for and isn’t on a warranty, we don’t have to take it to the dealership to get inspected. I don’t have a problem with getting a repair done at the dealerships, but I’ve noticed that I'm strongly encouraged to get more services done there that only they could handle.

We still have the goal of paying off the student loan early, so keeping away from new debts is a priority.

Hunting for a Reliable Car

Since we're hunting for a car to last for a long time, we've created a list of what we're looking for our next vehicle.

  • Make/Model – In addition to using resources like Consumer Reports, we're also reviewing Edmunds' True Cost to Own list to make sure that the car we get won't cost us an arm and a leg to maintain.
  • Price – Looking to buy this car in cash, we have a budget that we'll work to stick  with.
  • Transmission – We were fine with either a manual or an automatic.
  • Clean Title – It’s easier for us to just focus on clean titles. I know some who are more mechanically talented can find some gems with those without one.
  • Gas Mileage- With my husband's commute, getting good gas mileage is important and our minimum is 30 mpg.

When you were shopping for your car, what were deal breakers for you? What were options that you wanted to have?

Thoughts on Buying Reliable Used Cars

I'd love to hear from you about getting a car. Are you planning on buying a car this year? How many of you are buying from a private seller?

If you need to boost up your down payment (or just want to pay cash) for your next car, sign up for my free course 5 Days to $5K.

It'll show you how to find, save, and make money!

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

6 comments add your comment

  1. I worked in the car business for 5 years before waking up and realizing how much I hated ripping people off and the dis-service I was doing to many people between the ridiculous markup and the whole financing process. The last 4 cars we’ve bought have been with cash. The best advice I can give is to narrow yourself down to 2 or 3 models that you are really interested in. Then SHOP! Look for the deals and study the market. It may take a few weeks (5 weeks on our last purchase) but a deal will come along and you’ll know it was meant to be. In January this year we bought my wife a nice used Sequoia $3,500 under market value and $1,000 under our maximum budget. I knew it was under value because I had been researching the used Sequoia market for weeks. Don’t be scared of the mileage on a Honda, Toyota, or Nissan. I wouldn’t buy anything American made that has high mileage (100k+).. you’re almost guaranteed an engine or transmission issue. Hope this helps someone!

  2. We recently purchased two cars. One from the dealership where we had a friend working and another from a private seller. We didn’t want to pay cash for the mini suv but I would have preferred to so we would have no payments. I just like being able to feel like I am getting a better deal and both the buyer and seller are helping one another out. I usually just let my mechanic go check out the car before i even waste my time.

  3. Buy a used car but no more than 4 years old. By the time it has depreciated in value, and doing some research online, you can get a good deal.

  4. Rather than use actual “cash” to pay off the car, use a rewards card and pay off the balance before it accrues any interest. I did this last year, and was certain to do the following, first:
    1. Negotiate your final offer
    2. Ask the dealer if they will accept a credit card payment
    3. Talk to your card provider, to give them a heads-up about the large, unusual, charge and to raise your limit, if needed.
    4. Put the hundreds you get back to good use.