First, a caveat. If you truly qualify as a lower income earner and are having trouble making ends meet, you should absolutely not buy a car no matter how much public transport sucks. That being said, you don’t necessarily have to be rich or even upper middle class to justify a car purchase. Despite the financial burden, car ownership does come with many advantages that are a bit more than mere “luxuries”
For instance, if you face a 3-hour commute by public transport every day, the 2-hours a day/10 hours a week/40 hours a month your car saves you could be worth the cost if you value your time.
If you have to send your two kids to childcare every morning and pick them up after work every day, that extra cost might be worth it if it means less stress and shorter commuting times.
Ultimately, only you can decide if the extra cost is “worth it” for you. If you’ve done the math and are willing to shoulder the financial cost of car ownership, here are some tips for getting yourself a vehicle with a not-so-high income.
Compare prices of second hand cars online
Anyone who’s buying a car but isn’t rich enough not to feel the pinch needs to consider only second hand cars.
Buying a brand new car means your vehicle takes a huge hit in terms of depreciation the minute you drive it out of the showroom. On the other hand, a second hand car doesn’t have to be some lump of moving scrap metal that you’re going to have to spend a fortune maintaining. If you can afford them, there are cars with 8-9 years of COE left that are much cheaper than their brand new counterparts.
There are many online car marketplaces like SGCarmart and Carro that enable you to compare prices obsessively. Keep an eye out for your desired models until one within your budget and desired COE range appears.
Compare car loan prices and get a low-interest loan
If you are reading this article, you are probably not in a position to pay for your car using only cash. That means borrowing money to finance your car purchase.
Don’t just ask the seller or dealer which car loan they’d recommend and then sign up for it blindly. Car loan interest rates change all the time, and what might have been the best deal in 2017 is probably not going to be that great in 2018.
So make sure you compare loan interest rates and sign up for the cheapest one. You can do so for free right here on MoneySmart.
Compare car insurance prices every year
So you’ve already paid for your car and the accompanying COE. But the paying doesn’t stop there! Every year, you’ll need to pay for car insurance, amongst other things. A comprehensive car insurance policy will set you back a four figure sum.
But car insurance prices offered by the various insurers can vary greatly. So don’t forget to compare insurance policies carefully and sign up for one that gives you adequate protection at the lowest possible price. You can compare car insurance plans for free using MoneySmart’s car insurance wizard.
Don’t forget to repeat this exercise every year, especially if you have had an accident that’s caused you to lose your no-claim discount.
Do the costs of a car outweigh the benefits for you? Tell us in the comments!