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How to Save for a Car as a Teenager: Tips to Buy Your First Car

Saving up for your first car can be a very exciting time for a teenager. It can also be a daunting time, because cars can be very expensive, especially this year. Saving enough money to buy one can be hard, especially if you also have to balance school, friends, and other responsibilities. That’s why this entire article below is devoted to how to save money for your first car. 

How much money should I save up for my first car?

This is a common question for a teenager (and anyone else that’s never been a car owner before) — “How much money should I save up for my first car?”

This will all depend on where you live and what the costs are like in your area. But, the average used car sale in 2020 was around $15,000 a year. However, it is possible to get a used car for much less than that!

Related: The BEST Reliable Used Cars Under 5000 Dollars! (Reliable AND Cheap!!)

How to Save Money For Your First Car - Save and Find a Cheap Dependable Car!Take a look at private sales in your area on sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Can you find a car that is used, in good shape, and in your budget? If so, write it down. And, keep track of what you’re looking for and what you can afford.

There are many used cars available online and at dealerships that you can grab for $15,000 or less. The key is to make sure you do your research first. But, if you at least have a few thousand dollars saved, you should be able to buy your first car.

Related: How to Save Money When Buying a Car

How do I start saving for a first car?

The first step is to just start saving. You’ll never save up enough if you don’t start right now. And, save your money in a high-yield savings account, so you can earn some interest on your money. We’ll go over more ways to save for a first car below.

Related: Saving For a Car – Tips for Saving Money When Purchasing A Car!

How to save enough money for my first car?

Do you know how to save enough money for your first car? The biggest tip is to know how much the average used car costs in your area, and then go into saving. That way, you’ll know if you saved enough by the time you’re ready to go shopping.

How to Save Money For Your First Car - Buy a Toyota CamryCan I afford a car on minimum wage?

Are you asking yourself the question, “Can I afford a car on minimum wage?”

The answer…Yes!

Luckily, as a teen, you shouldn’t have too many financial responsibilities, so saving up money should be fairly easy. If you do have some bills each month, it may be harder to save money on minimum wage. But if you don’t, save as much from your paychecks as you can. And, you can work more during the holidays and summers to earn more money too.

Of course, don’t overwork yourself either. As a teen, your job is school. Getting good grades, having a good time, and having freedom before adulthood are important. So don’t think you HAVE to buy a car right now — unless you really need one.

Related: 10 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

How To Save For a Car as a Teenager

Alright – to the meat and potatoes of this article. How to save up money for your first car.

Are you ready? Here are some great ways to do just that!

1) Start saving early  

Ready to know how to save money fast for a car? The key is to save, save, save. Yes, it isn’t fun when you can’t spend your hard-earned money the way you want to. But, if a car is a priority for you, it’s worth saving for.

  • Break down your car budget and when you want to buy it.
  • Then focus on how much you’d need to save each month to reach that goal.

As an example, if you’re looking at an $8,000 car, and have 18 months to buy it, you’d want to save around $450 a month. Consider InsuranceNavy for affordable car insurance to secure the investments for your first car.

2) Get a side hustle

Need to make some extra money? Below are some great side hustle ideas, so you can increase your income, bump up your savings each month, and buy that car when you want it!

side hustles you can start this weekend - babysittingSide Hustle Ideas:

  • Tutor
  • Babysit
  • Detail cars
  • Mow lawns
  • Clean houses
  • Buy and resell
  • Create websites
  • Walk dogs/dog sit
  • Refurbish furniture

Related: Should I Buy a Newer Car? The Big Question Lately…

3) Find a part-time job

In addition to spending your time online looking up car facts and specifications, you should also spend some time looking up some part-time job postings.

Teenagers are able to get jobs in most states as soon as they turn 16. Some states even let teens start working earlier with an approved work permit (check with your state to see). Starting early in the workforce will give you extra time to save up.

You may find that there are a lot of job options for a teenager.

You could get a job in a store as a:

  • clerk,
  • stocker,
  • or inventory person.

How to make money to afford your first car - become a waitressOr, you could also work in a restaurant as a:

  • host,
  • waiter,
  • food-runner,
  • dish-washer,
  • or a drive-thru window clerk.

Before accepting a job, you should consider the hours required for each position, as well as the pay per hour. This decision will keep you from working too much during the school year, and you may be able to get higher pay too. Also, make sure that you can balance your work hours with your school and extracurricular activity schedule.

Related: Best Paying Part-Time Jobs (and How to Get Them!)

4) Start your own business

You may not be interested in working in a store, restaurant, or another workplace, or you may need more flexibility in your work hours than the typical business can provide. If that’s the case for you, you may want to consider starting your own business and offering a service to your clients.

You could:

  • start a babysitting business,
  • do yard work,
  • run errands for older adults,
  • tutor younger kids, help clean houses,
  • or do many other services.

Running your own business lets you control when you work and who you take on as a client. It also lets you set your own fee, which could help you hit your savings goal even faster.

If you plan to start your own business, make sure to check your local and state laws. Your parents can help with this, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Related: 50+ Best Side Hustle Ideas for 2021 (and Beyond!)

Piggy bank with money5) Save your allowance & gifts

A third way to save up for a car is to budget carefully with any money that you get from family members. If you are lucky enough to get a weekly allowance, set aside a portion of it each time to save towards a car. If you get money from relatives as a birthday or other holiday gift, do the same with that.

You don’t have to save it all, but the more you save, the sooner you’ll find yourself behind the wheel of a new (to you) car.

Related: How You Can Save Hundreds of Dollars (Free Budget Sheet Included!)

How can I get a car for free?

Is this a real thing? 

Get a car for free?

Yes, it is possible to get a car for free. But, it will require a little work on your end.

First, you could get one of your parent’s old cars if they have one. It may not be the car you want, but if it’s free (and you only have to pay for gas and maintenance) that’s better than nothing!

You can also make requests for a free car. If your family is low-income, there are many different non-profits that will gift you a car. Your family will need to fill out some paperwork, but it can help you out if you can’t afford one of your own. Again, it probably won’t be the best looking car, but it’s a car that can get you from point A to point B.

Related: Car Maintenance: How to Keep Repair Costs Down on a Used Car

How to Buy Your First Car - Buy a Cheap Reliable Car Like a Scion XBWhy are cars so expensive right now?

Now, why are cars so expensive right now? It seems almost impossible to find a good car for a reasonable price these days…

If you’re looking for a used car this year, you may have noticed that prices have gone up. And, it’s actually a very simple answer to it. The demand for used cars is outweighed by their supply, so that pushes prices higher and higher.

To avoid overpaying, try to have all cash on hand and make an offer. If not, you can also try to wait a few more months (or a year) before looking again. Eventually, the prices will settle down again.

Related: The BEST Reliable Used Cars Under 5000 (Reliable AND Cheap!)


How To Save Money For Your First Car: Time to Get Started!!

Earning your first car as a teenager can take a lot of time and effort, but it’s well worth it!

Save money by finding a part-time job, starting your own business, or by budgeting financial gifts that you get from others!

Once your car is purchased, be sure to continue setting money aside each paycheck to cover gas, maintenance, and repairs. That will keep you and your car on the road to success longer!

Have you figured out how to save money for your first car? What is it you’re doing? Tell us in the comments below!

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AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard

Kim Studdard is a project manager for online entrepreneurs and small businesses. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or reading her growing pile of horror books, you'll find her working on her HR degree and working towards FIRE.

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