How to Pay for a Car in College | College Car Buying Tips

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craigslist (Photo credit: Chika)

Going away to college is as much about freedom as it is about academics—and owning a car while in school can help you take full advantage of that freedom. Buying a college car can be difficult, though; most students have trouble scraping together a steady income to cover monthly car payments and car insurance. After classes, studying and recreational activities, there isn’t much time left over for a substantial job. But it can be done. Here are a few ways to pay for a car that don’t require working the graveyard shift at a canning factory.

Get a regular part-time job

Depending on your course load and desire for a vehicle, you may be able to pick up evening or weekend shifts on campus or at a local business to save up enough money for car payments. Consider taking public transportation or making other arrangements to get to and from your job until you’ve saved up enough money for your own vehicle.

Craigslist gigs

Craigslist.org has established itself as the best place to buy a couch and loveseat combo for pennies on the dollar, but a deeper dig into the site reveals much more than just yard sale rejects. Many people use Craigslist to search for local jobs, but far fewer take advantage of the “gigs” section just below. A gig is a short-term job, sometimes lasting only a few hours. Gigs could include anything from painting a fence to designing a web page. This is a great place to look for extra money when trying to save for a college car.

Student loans

Occasionally, students are awarded financial aid above and beyond the cost of college. This money is usually intended as a stipend for living expenses, which, for many people, include a car loan and vehicle insurance bill. The benefit these loans have over traditional car loans is a significantly lower interest rate. Consult a financial advisor or your college’s financial aid staff before using student loans to pay for a car.

Be entrepreneurial

Are you good at playing the guitar? Offer private lessons. Can you cobble together a passable website? Consider freelancing with your web development skills. You can even hand-make crafts and sell them on etsy.com. Figure out what your talents are, and then decide how to market them to make a few bucks on the side. It could be your key to a college car.

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