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40 Ways to Save for a Car or Another Major Purchase

Linda Crampton is a writer who is interested in frugal living and reducing clutter. Both of these activities are important in her own life.

A 1932 Bugatti is beautiful, but most car buyers need to buy a less expensive vehicle.

A 1932 Bugatti is beautiful, but most car buyers need to buy a less expensive vehicle.

An Important Goal

Saving to buy a car is a major undertaking, but success is perfectly possible with a bit of planning and effort. Three strategies can be used to build up a car fund: saving regularly and as soon as you receive your paycheck, spending less and putting the savings in the fund, and finding ways to earn extra money. In this article, I share forty tips that will help you save for a vehicle or another major purchase.

Before you start your savings plan, you should decide on the type of car that you want to purchase. To help you make a choice, think about the price and features of the vehicles that interest you and consider whether you are aiming for a new car or a used one. You also need to think about the potential costs involved after you've bought a car. For example, how much will the insurance cost? How much gas is the car likely to use? Does the vehicle have a reputation for reliability and low repair costs? Maintenance and repair costs for a used car are especially important to consider.

Another consideration is how you will pay for the car. Will you pay cash or are you going to make a down payment followed by monthly installments? How large will the payments be and how long will they need to be made? Once you have a car and a purchase method in mind, you can decide how much you'lł need to save each month or in each pay period in order to buy the vehicle.

New car keys are an exciting acquisition.

New car keys are an exciting acquisition.

Save Regularly

1. Decide on the amount that you will place in your car fund from each paycheck and the amount that you will place in your emergency fund. Even while saving for a car, you need to keep building up an emergency fund. Your don’t want to spend all your savings on a vehicle and then be faced with an emergency that you can’t afford.

2. Your bank may offer the option to automatically transfer money from your checking account to your savings account at regular intervals. If this option isn’t available, transfer money into your car account and your emergency fund as soon as you deposit your paycheck in the bank.

3. Try to set up separate savings accounts for your car fund and your emergency fund. If you have only one savings account, set up a table with pen and paper, a worksheet in a spreadsheet program, or a file in budgeting software to separate your savings into different “virtual” accounts.

4. At the end of every day, empty all the change except for a dollar (or other predetermined amount) out of your wallet.

5. Buy coin collectors at a dollar store and fill them with coins from your wallet. As soon as the coin collectors are full, deposit the money in your car account.

6. Never think that it’s not worth saving a few pennies! Pennies saved regularly will add up to make dollars.

Saving money regularly is important when someone wants to make a major purchase.

Saving money regularly is important when someone wants to make a major purchase.

Spend Less While Shopping

7. Find extra money to add to your car account by spending less. Put the money that you would usually spend into your car account.

8. Stop bad habits like smoking and buying junk food and consider limiting alcohol consumption. These changes could save a significant amount of money and may improve your health, too.

9. Make your meals at home instead of eating in restaurants.

10. Determine how much money you are paying for meals at work or at school. It may be cheaper to bring prepared meals from home.

11. Buy nutritious but cheaper food. For example, have more beans for protein instead of meat.

12. Don’t buy "designer" coffee. Make coffee and tea at home. Buy plain varieties of the beverages, which are cheaper than flavored kinds.

13, If you regularly buy canned drinks such as colas, consider the ongoing expense. It may be a good idea to switch to a cheaper beverage and to eliminate or strictly limit the purchase of the previous one.

14. Take advantage of coupons to buy cheaper groceries, cosmetics, and toiletries. Make sure that when you use a coupon you are purchasing something that you would have bought anyway. Don't buy an item just because you have a coupon for it. The same idea applies to two-for-one purchases. Only buy the products if they will be useful.

Designer coffee can still be part of a saver's life, as long as it's limited to an occasional  treat.

Designer coffee can still be part of a saver's life, as long as it's limited to an occasional treat.

More Shopping Tips

15. Use the savings cards or point cards that are offered by some stores, as long as the cards are free. As with coupons, make sure that you don’t buy something that you don’t need just because a card reduces the cost of the item or gives you points.

16. Save flyers from community newspapers and buy items that that you need when they are on sale.

17. Buy drug store brands of medications like vitamin supplements and anti-histamines. If you read the ingredients carefully, you’ll often find that the cheaper drug store brand product has exactly the same ingredients in exactly the same concentrations as the more expensive name brand product. Store brands of packaged foods and cleaning products may also be cheaper than the name brand products.

18. Experimenting with the latest cosmetics can be very expensive. Stick with one set of cosmetics that you like, preferably a store brand or an inexpensive name brand.

A computer of some type and a public library can be a wonderful combination.

A computer of some type and a public library can be a wonderful combination.

Visiting a public library may provide great opportunities for free entertainment and education. I can access books, magazines, newspapers, music, and video from home by using my library card. In a few cases, there is a restriction on how many people can use a resource at the same time. The library lends WiFi hotspots that connect to the Internet. People need to have a computer or phone to make use of a hotspot.

Spend Less on Entertainment and Communication

19. Visit your local public library for free education and entertainment. Printed newspapers and magazines, books, CDs, DVDs, computers, and Internet access are generally available.

20. If you have access to the Internet, do you really need a newspaper subscription? Many newspapers have websites that show the latest news and information. Some public libraries subscribe to a website that puts newspapers from around the world on the Internet on the same day that they’re published. You may be able to read these papers from the comfort of your own home if you are a member of the library.

21. Some libraries allow their members to "borrow" e-books by downloading them at home. After a specific time frame, the e-books will no longer open and are said to have been "returned" to the library. The library allows the books to be read on a portable electronic device as well as a computer. The online Open Library run by the Internet Archive also enables books to be borrowed in a digital format.

22. Classic e-books can be downloaded from many Internet sites for free and never expire.

23. Downgrade your cable television package, especially if it includes many stations that don’t interest you, or cancel your cable plan. You may be able to access certain shows via the Internet. It's important to consider the cost of this access, however.

24. Use freeware or open source programs on your computer instead of buying expensive software.

25. Don’t buy an expensive cell phone plan, and don’t renew the contract if you already have one. Instead, choose a cheaper plan or use your phone on a prepaid plan. The local government in some communities provides free Internet access in specific areas. I live near a city park that provides free Internet for visitors, for example. If you live near a free Internet access point, you may find that it enables you to be satisfied with a cheaper phone plan or a cheaper plan for your computer.

26. Think about whether you still need a landline for phone calls if you have a cell phone.

27. Use free options like Skype for some or all of your long-distance communications. Make sure that you do some research to find out whether the sometimes free options–including Skype–require payment in certain situations.

The video below contains some good tips for spending less money. I think the section about drinking at home before an event needs to be improved, though. First, it's important to stress that a person should avoid drinking alcohol before driving. Secondly, it's a good idea to limit alcohol consumption at any time in order to save money and maintain health.

Saving Tips and Tricks

Spend Less on Exercise and Energy Consumption

28. If you travel by public transit, buy passes or fare saver tickets to save money. Walk to your destination whenever possible. Walking is free and can be a great form of exercise.

29. Cancel your gym membership and choose less expensive ways to exercise.

30. Reduce energy costs in your home by turning off lights that aren’t needed, using energy-efficient light bulbs, and using cold water in clothes washing machines. Consider turning down the thermostat at night and when you will be away from your home for a long time (unless there are people or pets that must be kept warm in the home).

31. Unplugging certain electronic devices when they're not being used saves energy and money. Some devices shouldn't be repeatedly plugged in and then unplugged, however. Do some research to discover which of your devices can be safely unplugged.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Purchase

Earn More Money

32. Hold a yard sale and sell anything that you don’t use or don’t need. Consider selling items online.

33. If you have space in your home, think about taking in a boarder.

34. If you have the time, get a part-time job such as babysitting, dog walking, or newspaper delivery. If you have a special skill, you may be able to teach evening classes, offer academic tutoring services, or teach a musical instrument.

35. Explore online earning opportunities, but do so carefully. You should check whether the website that is offering you money in return for part-time work has a good reputation. You should also determine whether an extra offline project is likely to earn you more money over a specified time frame than the online one.

36. Save and file all receipts carefully for your tax return. Read your tax information booklet carefully to ensure that you get all of the tax refund that you are entitled to.

Remember to recycle bottles and cans to get your deposit returned. These strategies return money that you've already paid rather than enabling you to earn new money, but they're still important.

Earned money from different sources can add up to a significant amount.

Earned money from different sources can add up to a significant amount.

Use Psychology to Help You Save Money

37. Post a photo of your future car in a prominent place, and post inspirational quotes about saving where you will frequently see them.

38. Consider making saving and frugal living part of a new lifestyle.

39. Find less expensive but still satisfying purchases and activities to replace your old habits so that you don’t feel deprived. If you don't do this, your saving strategy may be unsuccessful in the long term.

40. If the thought of permanently eliminating designer coffee or another treat from your life makes you miserable, then don’t do it. Instead, strictly limit your purchase of luxury coffee or treat to once a week (or once a month for more expensive purchases) and make it a special event. Enjoy the ambiance of your favorite coffee shop, socialize with friends, and go for a walk in a pleasant and interesting area afterwards (if this appeals to you). If you can’t keep to your pre-determined purchase schedule, it’s best to avoid the drink or treat entirely.

Congratulations—You've Bought Your Car! Now What?

Why go back to your former, more expensive lifestyle now that you’re used to saving? You can continue to save for another major purchase, for a vacation, or to add to your emergency or retirement funds. A frugal lifestyle can be very satisfying if it's well planned. Assess your previous saving plan, make suitable adjustments if necessary, and continue to save to help you achieve your future goals.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2011 Linda Crampton


Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 03, 2020:

Thank you, Dominique. I appreciate your visit.

Dominique Cantin-Meaney from Montreal, Canada on January 03, 2020:

Thanks for sharing these tips. I will definitely use them.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 16, 2015:

Hi, SquatchPrince. Thanks for the comment. I find that #32 works for other purchases, too. It's certainly motivating!

SquatchPrince from Washington on April 16, 2015:

I have been looking for ways to help me save more money and this definitely helped me out. I actually did #32 before reading your article, because I figured if I looked at the car I wanted each time I look at my phone it would make me want it more!

Jacobb9205 on February 15, 2015:

No problem, AlciaC

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 15, 2015:

Thank you very much for the comments.

Jacobb9205 on February 15, 2015:

Great ways to save thank you. I appreciate it!

Patrick from South Africa on September 29, 2013:

I really enjoyed reading your article, there's a lot of interesting facts. Also remember if you planning a day out at the mall, eat at home before you go. This way you will be less inclined to spend more money on expensive fast food.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 22, 2013:

Good luck, daisydayz. I hope you're able to get a car soon and that your new company is a success!

Chantele Cross-Jones from Cardiff on September 22, 2013:

Some good tips there. We are currently doing the big save for a deposit, but trying to do this on one low salary and starting up a company is really hard!! But a little at a time I hope we will get there.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on May 18, 2013:

This sounds like an interesting way to save for a car, AMN. Thanks for sharing the information.

AMN on May 14, 2013:

I have a threft plan with my employer (Utility Co.). I withdrown some of the savings to purchase a car. The plan diduct a monthly amount to cover the same in addition to the original threft plan. I cover this amount from my salary annual increase for this year. This will not put a burden on me.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 17, 2012:

Hi, monicamelendez. Thank you very much for the comment!

monicamelendez from Salt Lake City on July 17, 2012:

Wow. You have a lot of great ideas. We definitely all spend money on things that we don't need. It's good to read through lists of things that we waste money on!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on May 29, 2012:

Thank you for the comment, tipstoretireearly!

tipstoretireearly from New York on May 29, 2012:

Comprehensive list! Thanks.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 25, 2012:

Hi, ElleBee. It is surprising how coins can add up to a significant sum of money quite quickly! Thank you for the comment, and good luck with saving for your emergency fund.

ElleBee on April 25, 2012:

These are some great ideas on saving money! I am not saving for a car speficially (though it is on my to-purchase list in the next few years). But I am trying to save more for my emergency fund, and these are some great ideas! I try to save my change regularly, and then deposit, I am lucky that my bank has a free change counter (the same thing as Coinstar at the grocery store except free!) so I just bring it there every few months to deposit. I happened to mention to someone else that I was saving my change, and they started giving me there's because they hate hanging on to change so much! Certainly paid off for me :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 27, 2012:

Thank you for the visit and the comment, theking2020.

theking2020 on February 27, 2012:

Excellent article 35 Ways to Save For a Car or Another Major Purchase.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 26, 2012:

Congratulations on fulfilling your dream, cost-segregation!

cost-segregation from USA on February 26, 2012:

Hi AliciaC,

I am agree with your point but it is my personnel opinion for me because i have saved some money monthly basis and have fulfilled my dream .

Thanks for sharing nice thought.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 26, 2012:

Hi, cost-segregation. Thank you for the visit and the comment. Paying for a car in installments is a good way to buy a car for many people, but it means that the person now has debt. If they run low on money in the future they may not be able to afford the car payments.

cost-segregation from USA on February 26, 2012:

I like this hub very much because of tips of buy car is very nice. i want to add 1 point If you have save regularly and credit or transaction in bank is good then you can purchase a new brand car through loan and pay amount to bank in easy installment.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 20, 2011:

Hi, summer0oo. Yes, designer coffee is a big temptation and a big trap! It's lovely to drink, especially in a coffee shop atmosphere, but it's so expensive. Thanks for the comment.

summer0oo from Baguio City, Philippines on December 20, 2011:

I'm guilty of spending too much on designer coffee and eating out :(

But i like this list..maybe I'll start by cutting down on that expensive cup of coffee in the mornings :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 02, 2011:

Thank you for the visit and the comment, Journey*!

Nyesha Pagnou MPH from USA on November 02, 2011:

Hi AliciaC,

This is a comprehensive list of great ideas. Thanks for writing!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 17, 2011:

Thank a lot for the comment and the vote, thelyricwriter. It's nice to meet you!

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on September 17, 2011:

Voted up Alicia. Very good tips to apply to everyday life. Well written.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 18, 2011:

Thank you for the comment and votes, applecsmith! Yes, a frugal lifestyle is always useful, especially in today's economic climate.

Carrie Smith from Dallas, Texas on July 18, 2011:

Excellent tips in this hub. Thank you for sharing! I share your views on living a frugal lifestyle and saving money. Voted up and useful.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 31, 2011:

That’s a great idea – controlling weight by eating at home! Thanks for the comment, and thank you very much for the rating, BkCreative.

BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on January 31, 2011:

I love lists and tips like this - it all makes so much sense. I use SKYPE and have been satisfied for 2 years. And then the prepaid cell phone - big savings there. And grinding my own coffee beans - delicious. My favorite is cooking meals most of the time - it is actually how I easily keep my weight down - I'm actually surprised at how easy it is to not gain weight by preparing my own food.

Thanks a million$$$ - and rated up!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 17, 2011:

Thanks for the suggestion, Scott_Grigg!

Scott_Grigg from Midwest USA-Southeast on January 17, 2011:

I'd also add to unplug your chargers, etc. when not in use. Used to work for a power company and even if a phone isn't charging those suckers use power. Unplug 'em!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 15, 2011:

Hi, jantamaya. Thank you very much for your comment!

MJC from UK on January 15, 2011:

Good hub! Now I know how to.... :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 14, 2011:

K9 - Thank you for your comment!

Simone - Now why didn't I think of that? A private island would be great! :)

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on January 14, 2011:

Yeah, really! That's a LOT of ways to save money for pretty much anything! Now I can more efficiently squirrel things away to my private island fund.

India Arnold from Northern, California on January 14, 2011:

Wow! 35 ways to save for a car, I struggle to find one!Very good ideas.