Learn how to budget for a car.

A woman uses a calculator to budget for a car.

Your top car budgeting questions, answered.

Like all budgeting, car budgeting involves a series of tradeoffs. You could spend less upfront but more in the long run, or you could spend more upfront and less in the long run, or you could opt for somewhere in between. The tradeoffs you make largely depend on your personal financial situation, as well as your values and priorities.

Rev up your savings. Learn how to budget for a car to transform your dream car into reality.

How to budget for a car, simplified.

To effectively budget for a car, it’s essential to create a detailed and realistic monthly budget. By learning how to make a monthly budget, you can carefully allocate funds and make informed financial decisions that align with your car-buying goals. Let’s explore the key aspects of budgeting for a car:

1. How much should I spend on a car budget?

How much should you spend on a car? Experts recommend spending no more than 10–15% of your income on a car payment, so set your price from there and see what might be the best fit.

2. How much should I budget for car maintenance?

How much should you budget for maintenance? This depends on the car you purchase. A cheaper, older car may cost less upfront, but it will have more ongoing maintenance and repair needs. A newer car might be safe from major repair costs for a couple of years. Before you cut the check, get a maintenance list from your car dealer so you have a sense of what’s up to date and what isn’t. Having this list can help you anticipate major upcoming costs.

3. How much should I budget for car insurance?

How much should you budget for insurance? If you buy a new car, you may save on maintenance and repair costs, but your insurance premium will be higher. The best way to save on insurance is to opt for a car model with maximum safety features and optimal crash test results. Of course, this kind of car could cost you more upfront. So again, this depends on where you want to spend.

How much should I spend on a car?

When purchasing a car, it’s important to consider various factors that can influence your budget and overall affordability. By carefully evaluating these aspects, you can determine how much you should spend on a car and make a well-informed decision. Here are some key points to consider:

Don’t forget hidden costs in your car budget.

While focusing on the purchase price, loan payments, maintenance, and insurance, it’s easy to forget about additional expenses that may arise. Creating a buffer in your budget to account for these hidden costs is essential. These can include taxes and registration fees, fuel expenses, parking and tolls, repairs and maintenance, as well as vehicle accessories and upgrades. By being aware of these hidden costs and incorporating them into your budget, you’ll be better prepared to handle unexpected expenses that may arise during car ownership.

Learn to create your car budget PDF.

Building any budget is both an art and a science — working within your financial means, making decisions about your values, and making tradeoffs. Build your car budget into your budgeting document by converting your spreadsheet to a PDF to stay on top of your spending. And discover what more you can do with Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Acrobat online services to build your most effective budget.