College is an exciting time as young adults extend their wings and flex their muscles of independence. For those college students who weren’t gifted a car before leaving for school, buying their first car in college might land on the to-do list sooner or later. Some incoming freshman students aren’t even allowed to have cars on campus, or are made to live on campus negating the need for a vehicle. Once sophomore year rolls around, and those limitations lifted, a car purchase might be in order.
College students generally don’t have an extensive credit history yet and usually have an even smaller budget. Chances are, you’ll be looking for a reliable used car that won’t break the bank or cost time and money with breakdowns. A great place to start your search is on a website like Cars.com. You can search for the best cars currently on the market, then price models that are a few years older for significant savings. The site also offers a payment calculator that can help with estimating the impact of a car payment on your monthly budget.
When you’re deciding on what car to buy, you’ll need to consider not only the purchase price, but the general cost of upkeep and maintenance. Sites like Cars.com have tons of helpful articles about maintenance and upkeep to help you get a thorough idea of what car ownership entails. You will also want to factor in how much parking will cost either on campus, or in any number of paid parking lots available.
Although having a car in college represents some small freedom and opportunities to hit the open road for great adventures, they do carry considerable cost including monthly payment, insurance, parking, fuel and maintenance. Don’t dive into financial ruin with your first adult purchase. Be sure these costs easily fit within your income.