Car payments are a major category in the budgets of most Americans. In fact, they’re just behind mortgage or rent payments in most cases in terms of total expenditures.
Sadly, some people are taking out car loans for as long as 96 months… That means it would take 8 years to pay for a car. Insane!
Luckily, you don’t have to fall victim to the never ending cycle of car payments.
You can escape car debt forever by changing just one simple thing when it comes to car ownership.
Own Your Car Longer – It’s That Simple
The only change you need to make to escape car payments, in most cases, is the length of ownership of your car.
Really, it is that simple. Not following? Here’s how it works.
Let’s say the typical American takes out a 60 month (5 year) car loan when they buy a new car. Let’s say you got an amazing deal and only pay 0.9% interest on that car loan.
Finally, let’s pretend your loan was for a $30,000 car. Using this situation, your payment would be $511.52 a month, or roughly $500 for simplicity’s sake.
Instead of ditching your car when you pay it off after five years, just keep the car. Continue making your normal car payments, but instead of sending them to the bank to pay off your loan, send them to a savings account solely dedicated to your next car purchase.
After just one extra year of car ownership, you’ll already have $6,000 set aside for your next car. Holding onto the car for 2 years longer would leave you with $12,000, 3 years would be $18,000, 4 years would be $24,000 and 5 years would be $30,000.
That doesn’t even count any interest you may earn on the money that you’ll keep in a savings account.
How Long Will Your Car Last?
While most cars should last at least 10 years and well over 100,000 miles, not all will end up lasting quite that long while others will last even longer. Additionally, you’ll likely have at least one hefty maintenance bill sometime during the extra years you hold on to a car.
As far as repairs go, take them out of the money you have saved for a new car if you have to. It is much cheaper to spend $1,000 to repair a car to make it last another year than to spend $30,000 on another new car and have 60 more months of $500 payments. It may put you behind schedule a little bit for your next car, but that’s no big deal in the big scheme of things.
But what do you do if you HAVE to get a more reliable car before you can afford to buy another new car in cash? You have two options. The first is preferable, but the second is acceptable as you work toward car debt freedom.
Only Buy A Car You Can Afford To Pay For In Cash
The best thing to do in the situation where you must buy a new car is to buy a new to you car you can afford to pay for in cash. Even if you only have $5,000, or one year’s of payments, set aside, you can get a decent car that will get you around town.
The best part of using this method is the fact that you won’t have a car payment and you can continue putting your $500 a month into a new car fund. Since a cheaper car is likely older, you will lose less money in depreciation over the time you own it.
When you’re ready, you can sell your new to you car and combine the proceeds with your savings account and purchase an even more expensive car down the road if you wish. Of course, if you find out that the $5,000 car works just fine for you, you don’t have to spend a penny more until you need another new car. Then you can divert that extra $500 a month to other savings goals.
Get The Smallest Loan Possible If You Must
Not everyone will have $5,000 in cash to buy a decent reliable car. If you find yourself with no cash, only buy the least expensive reliable car you can find. This will keep your car payment as low as possible and allow you to continue saving for a better one as soon as you pay off that tiny car loan.
Once the loan is gone, simply continue saving for a new to you car and then you can sell the current car and use your savings to buy a nicer car if you wish, just like with the example above.
How To Accelerate Your Car Debt Freedom Starting Today
So now that you understand how to work toward never having a car payment again, you’re probably wondering if there is any way you can accelerate this process. The answer is simple.
You definitely can accelerate freedom from car debt if you’re willing to make changes.
Sell Your Car Today
Instead of waiting until your current car loan is paid off, you can make a big change today and sell your car. Hopefully you have equity in your car (can sell it for more than you owe on it), but even if you don’t, it makes sense to get rid of your giant car payment as soon as possible.
If you’re underwater on your car, save up enough money to be able to cover the difference between what you owe and what the car is worth. Once you have enough money, sell the car and pay off the loan.
Next, take whatever money you may have left over from your car sale and follow the instructions above. If you have enough cash to buy a reliable used car, do that. If not, get as small of a car loan as possible and work toward getting a nicer car down the road, if you wish.
By selling your car today, you vastly accelerate the process by getting rid of your current expensive car instead of waiting until you pay it off. This will allow you to start saving for a new to you car faster and live without car payments for the rest of your life even more quickly.
Living life without car payments isn’t difficult. Unfortunately, most people are impatient or want a nicer car than they can truly afford. Don’t be a slave to car payments your whole life. Be patient, buy cars you can truly afford and never have a car payment again.
Do you have a car payment? Or have you escaped car payments for the rest of your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts about the process of escaping car payments in the comments below.
P.S. You get bonus points if you take the extra money you’re saving and put it toward retirement.