How to get a car when you can't afford one
So let me ask you...
How did you get your first car?
A question of the era! It's an issue for anyone to get what they need these days, let alone a costly car. They're expensive, and once you even procure one, you have to worry about insurance, maintenance, gas, and more. However, even with effective public transportation, bikes, and other forms of transportation, it can be pretty hard to get by without a car, depending on where you live. I know that even though I hate to drive, I still find myself using my car more than I would expect, and Bay Area public transit is supposedly one of the best systems in the U.S.
As a self-proclaimed cheapskate, I've found a few ways to get a car when you don't exactly have thousands of dollars:
- Ask your parents. Some of you may have wealthy families... I know quite a few people who got great cars on their birthdays. Perhaps you can make a deal with your parents; if you get straight A's for your entire life, you can get a car. I also know that most of my friends inherited cars or got their parents' or aunt's old car when they got a new one. It's kind of a long shot, but hey.
- Find a cheap CHEAP car. I also know a good deal of people who would find cars by reading the "For Sale" words painted on the car windows. Those cars tend to be cheaper and not too bad in quality. Additionally, there are people who purchase cars from places like the Salvation Army... probably not the best shape, but if you just need any car for a short time, it could work. I actually got my first car from the lot of a neighbor; the car had belonged to the lady's father-in-law and was 21 years old when I bought it for $500, but it got me through three years of high school and college, and it still remains my favorite. You can also check the classifieds, craigslist, or other places for cheap cars; my second car was found in an ad for $4,000.
- Enter contests. Again, another long shot, but there are always those raffles in the mall. Try going on "The Price I$ Right"! I mean, my dad's co-worker won $32 million in the lottery a few years back... You never know!
- Use a scholarship. This is something a lot of my AmeriCorps friends do. Depending on the organization/foundation, if you win a scholarship, you might be awarded a check that you can use however you like. With AmeriCorps, you are awarded a Segal Education Award that is worth $4,725 after serving for a year. If you enroll at a community college, you can use that award to pay off a loan, and you will be cut a check for the remainder of the funds after you pay the couple of hundred for tuition. That can mean $4,000 or more for a car (or a laptop, or rent, or anything that can be used for education or to make receiving an education easier)!
- Get a job. You really might just have to suck it up and work to earn money for a car. That's what I did to buy my first call all by myself. And it's really not that bad.
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