Financing & Budget Tips
We've gathered some helpful car financing tips, whether you're a first-timer or just brushing up on things before buying your next car.
Helpful car financing tips
- Choose a car at a price that fits your budget: If you're not sure what price range you're looking for, try our Car Payment Calculator to estimate your monthly payment ahead of time.
- Maximize your down payment: Increasing your down payment lowers your monthly payment and may improve your offer and chance of approval.
- Estimate what you can expect at trade in: If you're planning on trading your car in, having an idea of its current equity can help you estimate what car payment you can afford.
- Have a monthly budget: Most financial institutions recommend that you spend no more than 15% of your gross monthly income (GMI) on your monthly vehicle payment. Examples:
- $2,000 GMI = monthly car payment of $300 or less
- $4,000 GMI = monthly car payment of $600 or less
Car financing terminology
- Amount financed: the amount of credit provided to you.
- APR: Annual Percentage Rate, or APR, is the cost of credit expressed as a percentage.
- Down payment: the amount of cash or trade equity you apply to your purchase.
- Equity: the difference between your trade payoff balance and its value. It may be positive or negative.
- Finance charge: the total dollar amount you pay to use credit.
- Retail installment contract: the finance agreement allowing for payment over time at a fixed monthly payment amount and rate.
- Simple Interest: finance charge calculation based on the unpaid principal balance, number of days between payments and the APR.
- Stipulation: additional documentation/action required to complete the transaction, like proof of income.
- Term: the number of monthly payments provided for in the retail installment contract.
- Total of payments: the amount you will have paid after you have made all payments as scheduled in the retail installment contract.
- Total sales price: the total cost of your purchase on credit including finance charge, down payment and amount financed.