Buy a used car. It’s easy to find a low-mileage, well-maintained used car for less than $7K and even around $5K.
I suggest looking for cars that have been known to be reliable over the long haul such as Honda, Mazda, Toyota and Nissan.
I’ve wasted A LOT of money over the years buying new and used cars.
My first car was bought in 1993. It was a 1990 Honda Civic LX. It had 55K miles on it, and I got it for $7,400. After being rear-ended in 1995, I no longer wanted the car so I gave it to my dad. He agreed to just pay off the remainder of the car. Believe it or not, the car is still running and has more than 250K miles on it (my step mom has it after my dad passed away two years ago).
I ended up buying my friend’s 1992 Acura Integra at that point and had it from 95-2000. This was a great car! It had 50K miles when I bought it and 135K miles on it when I sold it (and was paid off).
I sold it in 2000 to buy my “dream car” a 2000 Acura Integra Type R. I LOVED that car. It was awesome. But like a retard, I got involved with a girl financially when living together. She screwed me over real good at one point, so I decided to sell my Integra Type R in order to pay off debts. I didn’t want to do this because I really loved this car and had worked hard to be able to buy it when I did, but I felt it was my only choice at the time because of bills and how tight things were.
The thing about the Type R was that I bought it online through a company called Greenlight.com (now bought out by carsdirect.com). At the time, they were offering some of the most incredible deals on cars that I had ever seen. In fact, I bought the Integra Type R for LESS than invoice ($21K). Greenlight.com actually wrote the dealership a check for the difference between what they promised me and the actual MSRP of the car ($24,500). So I saved more than $4,500 and they ended up sending me another check for $500 for using them!!!
So basically, I was out the door (taxes, tag, title) for $22,700 on a car that invoiced for more than that and actually sold at or above MSRP on a rare car that they only made 750 of each year for a short period of time!
Now the only good thing about selling the car after owning it and driving it for two years was the fact that I sold it for $20,500 and since I had put $7K down on it when I bought it, I only owed $10K, so I made over $10K on the sale.
However, by selling the one car I really loved and wish I still had to this day, I ended up buying and selling a bunch of cars after that because I couldn’t find anything I really liked.
After I cleared up finances, I decided that I wanted another new car. I ended up buying a brand new 2002 WRX. I didn’t like that car and sold it only six months after buying it. Then I bought a 1996 Honda Civic because it was a steal of a deal from an older couple. But I didn’t like having a regular Civic, so I sold it to a friend and ended up buying a real nice 1989 Honda CRX Si. I had that for a while and really liked it. But I had a friend who really wanted to buy it from me.
So I sold him my CRX Si and bought a 2001 Honda S2000. I liked that car, but decided to trade it in only three months later for a 2003 Honda S2000 because I wanted something newer and with the upgrades they had made.
Then, when my dad had cancer, money was tight and things were falling apart in my life, so I decided to sell my S2000 thinking it would help. Then I realized that I did the exact same thing I had done earlier…I sold a car I really loved. So, I didn’t learn the first time around when I sold my Integra Type R (to get out of a financial mess) and sold my S2000 to do the same. I sold the S2000 and bought a 1996 Miata (and I do still have it).
So I sold two cars I loved only to go through a bunch of other cars I didn’t like and lost money each time. And don’t even get me started on the mistake I made co-signing car loans with my girlfriend (the same one that got me into a financial mess with the Type R in 2002)!!! Luckily, I was able to get out of that mess by the time we broke up several years later, but that was stressful and a big mistake on my part.
And when I looked back, if I had just kept the Integra Type R, I would still have it now completely paid off and I could have bought the 03’ S2000 and had that car as well and had it paid off next year!!!
Instead, I have my Miata which doesn’t compare to either the Type R or the S2000. But at least it’s paid for, it’s reliable, it has low mileage, and it still looks good and drives well.
So learn from my mistakes. Don’t waste your money on cars until you have money to spare for a new car. And don’t get involved financially with a girlfriend either! Just buy something used and reliable for now and invest that money in other things like savings, IRA, etc.