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35 Ways to Save for a Car or Another Major Purchase

Updated on August 2, 2017
AliciaC profile image

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 - beautiful, but most potential car buyers need to aim for a less expensive car!
A 1932 Bugatti - beautiful, but most potential car buyers need to aim for a less expensive car! | Source

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 car fund, and finding ways to earn extra money.

Before you start your savings plan, you should decide on the type of car to purchase. To help you make a choice, think about the price and features of the cars that interest you. Also think about the potential costs involved after you've bought a car. For example, how much will the car insurance cost? How much gas does the car use? Does the car have a reputation for reliability and low repair costs? Maintenance and repair costs for a used car are especially important to consider.

You also need to consider 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 car. Here are thirty-five tips that will help you save for a car or another major purchase.

New car keys are an exciting acquisition.
New car keys are an exciting acquisition. | Source

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 car and then be faced with an emergency which you can’t pay for.

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. | Source

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 or buying prepared meals.

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

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

12. 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. | Source

More Shopping Tips

13. 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 really need just because a card saves you money on the item.

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

15. 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.

16. 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.

Shopping from a list instead of making impulse buys can keep money in your wallet and bank account.
Shopping from a list instead of making impulse buys can keep money in your wallet and bank account. | Source

Spend Less on Entertainment and Communication

17. 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 can read these newspapers from the comfort of your own home if you are a member of the library.

18. Take advantage of your local public library for free education and entertainment. Printed newspapers and magazines, books, CDs, DVDs, and Internet access are available. Your local library may provide free access to online music databases, as mine does. Some libraries allow their members to "borrow" ebooks by downloading them at home. In my public library, after a specific time frame the ebooks 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. Classic ebooks can be downloaded from many Internet sites for free and never expire.

19. Downgrade your cable television package, especially if it includes many stations that don’t interest you, or cancel your cable plan.

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

21. Don’t buy an expensive cell phone plan, or don’t renew your contract if you already have one. Instead, choose a cheaper plan or use your phone on a prepaid plan.

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

23. Use free options like Skype for some or all of your long-distance communications.

The video below contains some good tips for spending less money. However, I think the section about drinking at home before a special event in order to save money could be improved. 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

24. 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.

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

26. 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).

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

27. Hold a yard sale and sell anything that you don’t use or don’t need. Consider selling items on Craigslist.

28. If you have space in your home, consider taking in a boarder.

29. If you have the time, get a part-time job such as babysitting 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.

30. 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.

31. 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. Also remember to recycle bottles, cans, and juice boxes 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. | Source

Use Psychology to Help You Save Money

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

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

34. 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.

35. If the thought of permanently eliminating designer coffee or another treat from your life makes you miserable, then don’t do it. Instead, limit your 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.

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, for example. A frugal lifestyle can be very satisfying if it's well planned.

© 2011 Linda Crampton

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    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

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

    • SquatchPrince profile image

      SquatchPrince 2 years ago from Washington

      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 profile image

      Jacob Barnard 2 years ago from Gloucestershire

      No problem, AlciaC

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the comments.

    • Jacobb9205 profile image

      Jacob Barnard 2 years ago from Gloucestershire

      Great ways to save thank you. I appreciate it!

    • WealthTitan profile image

      Patrick 4 years ago from South Africa

      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.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

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

    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 4 years ago from Cardiff

      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.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

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

    • profile image

      AMN 4 years ago

      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.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

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

    • monicamelendez profile image

      monicamelendez 5 years ago from Salt Lake City

      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!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the comment, tipstoretireearly!

    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 5 years ago from New York

      Comprehensive list! Thanks.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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.

    • profile image

      ElleBee 5 years ago

      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 :)

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the visit and the comment, theking2020.

    • profile image

      theking2020 5 years ago

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

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Congratulations on fulfilling your dream, cost-segregation!

    • cost-segregation profile image

      cost-segregation 5 years ago from USA

      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.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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 profile image

      cost-segregation 5 years ago from USA

      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.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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 profile image

      summer0oo 5 years ago from Baguio City, Philippines

      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 :)

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

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

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 5 years ago from USA

      Hi AliciaC,

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

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

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

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 6 years ago from West Virginia

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

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

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

    • applecsmith profile image

      Carrie Smith 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      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.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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 profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      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!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the suggestion, Scott_Grigg!

    • Scott_Grigg profile image

      Scott_Grigg 6 years ago from Midwest USA-Southeast

      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!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

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

    • jantamaya profile image

      Maria Janta-Cooper 6 years ago from UK

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

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      K9 - Thank you for your comment!

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

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      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.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

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

      K9