How to buy a family car on a budget

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It’s time to buy a new car for the family, but you’re on a budget. So, you’ll probably want to stick to used vehicles to get the most value for your money. New cars depreciate in value massively over the first few years so used cars are a smart choice as they save you money without sacrificing quality or safety. Here are some tips for buying a family car with a limited budget…


Believe it or not, this is a lot easier than you think. Experts say a good, dependable car can be had for as little as £3,900. Every £1K more you are able to spend will get you one that is even more dependable with lower mileage. Paying cash also means you can haggle with the seller and can avoid hefty finance fees and loan interest.


With a limited budget, you’re not going to be able to buy the latest and greatest. Start looking at cars that are about ten years old for the best deals, and ones that have 100,000 miles on them or more. In the past, that kind of mileage meant bad news, but today it means relatively little, and cars with 100,000 or more miles on them still have lots of life left. 


If you’ve already got a vehicle and are planning to replace it, why not trade in your old car? You can sell it for cash, which can be added to the budget for your newer replacement car. Or, when buying a new vehicle (even secondhand ones) from a garage, you might be able to negotiate a discount with the dealer by trading in your old car. 


The purchase price of a vehicle is only half the story, you’ll also want to know how much it costs to maintain your new ride in terms of tax, insurance and petrol consumption. Manual cars tend to be cheaper to run than automatics and petrol is more affordable than diesel. However, it’s also worth looking at the engine size; a smaller engine is often more economical than a larger one, as the latter tends to burn through more fuel.


For the best deals look online at sites like Gumtree and AutoTrader. Sites like AutoTrader will give you reviews in addition to prices; if you used Gumtree or found a car in the local newspaper, take a mechanic or mechanically inclined friend along with you to check the vehicle. And ask for the Vehicle Inspection Number (VIN) so you can research online too. If the seller refuses, heed the red flag and pass. Never buy a used car without checking its history. Running the VIN can tell you if a car has been in previous collisions or been written-off.

Buying a family car on a budget doesn’t mean you have to settle for an old clunker. You’ll find you can still afford a safe and comfortable vehicle for your family if you follow these tips and always get advice from a mechanic before handing over the cash!

Photos from Unsplash

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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