The only thing harder than saving up for a car is when your new vehicle needs repairs three months later. To stay prepared, aim to stay under budget, then save the excess for repairs.
Picture: John Lloyd/Flickr
When you get into the cheaper models of used cars, repairs become an inevitability over time. While buying a $3000 junker is obviously not as great a buying a $5000 car that's reliable, all other things being equal, you should expect that you'll need to spend some amount of money over time. To that end, try saving at least $500-$1000 of your budget for repairs, rather than pushing the limit of your budget for something that's just "nicer".