The only way to describe the life of a single mum is hectic! With all the school runs, football practice, play dates and grocery shopping trips, a car is often a necessity to fit everything into a day, albeit an expensive one.
Even if you’re on a tight budget, buying a car is definitely do-able if you know how and luckily, I’ve picked up some handy tips along the way that can help you run a car on a shoestring budget…
When looking for a motor, the cheapest option is, of course, to buy a used car. This can be daunting prospect for those who don’t know much about cars – it’d be a mother’s worst nightmare to be left broken down at the side of a road or lumbered with expensive repair bills.
I find that with a bit of research though, you can usually figure out if a car is worth spending your money on. These are things you should think about before buying a used car:
- It isn’t just about the age of the car – if a car has been properly looked after by its previous owners then it’ll still be in good condition. Ask to see the car’s full service history and check its MOT history online to see if it’s had any major or minor problems in its lifetime.
- Check the mileage – the average is usually around 10,000 miles each year. A car that’s got significantly more miles for its age will mean it has maybe been too well-used. Too low and there’s a danger that the car has been clocked (the mileage has been tampered with). You can check the service records to make sure all the numbers match up.
- Ask to see the car in person and test drive it so you can check the lights, the radio, the tyres and the oil, as well as the engine for signs of leaks.
It’s Not Just the Up-front Costs
It’s easy to pick a car just based on the initial cost, but experience has taught me to look at the bigger picture when choosing a used car.
Finding a car that’s cheap to run is just as important as finding one that’s reliable. It’s impossible to avoid the servicing and MOT costs, but you can find a model that’s cheap to tax, insure and with good fuel economy.
This will help with your long-term budgeting as you won’t be forking out on a regular basis for filling up the tank or insurance.
Practice Your Haggling Skills
You know what they say – if you don’t ask, you don’t get! Don’t be scared about being a little cheeky when you’re negotiating a price for your car. You’ll soon learn that many dealerships are flexible with their prices (to a certain extent!) so you might be able to knock a bit of money off the price of your chosen car.
If all else fails, you can always try and get the car mats thrown in for free or a full tank of petrol!
Think About Financing Options
There are loads of different ways you can pay for your car, whether you need to take out a loan or you’d prefer to put the cost onto a credit card (you can find a card with 0% interest with help from the Money Saving Expert).
I’d personally recommend looking into finance options and if you use a dealership like Motorpoint, they’ll tell you what cars match up to your monthly budget. If you’re looking for a finance deal that’s under £100 per month, for example, they’ll show you what cars are available within your price range, so you’re never in danger of breaking the bank.
Just be aware of the repayment terms and the length of the agreement so you know you’re not paying over-the-odds in the long-term once the interest has been added on.
If a car is an essential for your everyday routine but you think your monthly budget won’t be able to stretch to it, then think again – it’s completely possible to buy a used car and run it on a tight budget with the right planning. Give my top tips for buying a used car a try and you can make your daily single mum routine so much easier!