As of this year, the average cost of purchasing a vehicle in the United States has increased to an astonishing $36,718. With the cost of cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans continuing to rise, it can be extremely challenging for individuals on a tight budget to afford this major life purchase. Even buying a simple car can require a large down payment, as well as substantial monthly payments. Thankfully, no matter what your monthly budget looks like, there are strategies that you can use to find an incredible vehicle that is also affordable. Check out three tips for buying an exceptional vehicle on a small budget.

Consider exchanging size for premium features

Many people (especially families) automatically assume that they will need the largest size vehicle that they can afford. Between road trips, school functions, and the like, it is often helpful to have extra vehicle space for seating and storage. However, when you are on a tight budget, buying a vehicle with extra space often means compromising on quality features. In order to afford an SUV or a minivan, families must purchase older models that do not have other features that are extremely important. While this sacrifice will be necessary for some, many buyers do not need as much space as they think they do. Instead, choices for smaller vehicle models have improved greatly in efficiency. There is now more space and seating in these vehicles than ever before, which is often sufficient for couples and smaller families. When you exchange size for features, it is much easier to afford premium options, as well as a better quality vehicle.

Ensure that you are receiving every discount for which you are eligible

Prior to visiting any dealership, explore the promotions page on each seller’s website. Make note of promotions for which you are eligible, and ask about these when you begin browsing vehicles. If there are no major deals when you begin searching for a car, ask about future promotions for the coming months. With dealerships routinely offering massive discounts such as $0 down payments, 0% financing, or extra cash toward your trade-in, delaying your purchase by a few months can easily save you thousands of dollars.

Buy used

Edmunds reports that “a new vehicle depreciates by 30.5% in its first year.” While it can be tempting to buy new, especially when there are great promotions available, it is important to compare what you will be paying in the long run. By purchasing a car that is 1-2 years old with limited miles, you are getting almost the exact same quality and reliability as you would with a new vehicle, but for thousands of dollars less. As a result, this simple shift in spending can help those on a tight budget afford a much more premium vehicle.

In addition to using these strategies, be sure to search prices and options available with multiple sellers and dealerships. Rather than sticking with the pricing and inventory of just one dealership, expanding your search parameters will ultimately help you find the best vehicle for your needs at the lowest price.

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