Jag, Benz or even a MINI, chances are you’ve got a dream car in mind that you… well, dream about. For most people, the price tag is a big fat stop sign on the road to ownership. But does that really have to be the case? Just because your four-wheeled fantasy seems out of reach, does that mean it really is?

We at Andigo think you deserve your ideal wheels, so here are some tips on how to go about making the dream a reality:

Budget

We’re not saying this just because we’re a financial institution. Clearly tracking your income and expenses is the first step on your journey, and if you haven’t gotten around to it yet, you might be surprised how much it otherwise improves your state-of-mind. A nonprofit organization like GreenPath can help you with this, especially if you have a lot of debt to deal with. You’ll need to know the price (range) of your vehicle, and if you don’t know that already, step four below can help you find it.

Reduce Spending 

Once you factor the price of the car into your budget, you’ll probably need to reduce expenses. There are a variety of ways to do this.

  • Pack a lunch. Eating out is usually more expensive than cooking. You don’t have to eliminate it altogether, but consider cutting back on the frequency.
  • Buy groceries in large sizes or bulk. As long as you’re going to consume all of your purchase, a larger box usually means less spent per serving or unit.
  • Sign up for VIP rewards. Loyalty programs can really pay off if you restrict your shopping to places that offer them. If you’re not sure, ask.
  • Cut the cable. When’s the last time you looked closely at your cable or satellite bill? Don’t pay for services you don’t use. You may be able to drastically cut this expense if you can find your favorite shows online via your computer or a streaming player.
  • Focus on energy efficiency. Look for appliances that rate well in this area. Check all doors and windows carefully for air leaks and unplug electronic devices when not in use.

Earn Interest

Your money doesn’t have to be at great risk for it to earn interest. Stowing some away in a cookie jar or under the mattress might be comforting, but you’re missing out on the opportunity to make it work for you. Savings, certificates, money markets… even your checking account should give something back.

Search smart 

This is where it really pays to be patient and thorough. You’re going to need to find out several things about your dream ride, such as:

  • Availability: Is it a common or rare model? If yours is a rare breed, naturally it’s going to be harder to find. Try starting your search at a site like CarQuotes.
  • Location: Is your model concentrated mostly in a certain area of the country? If it’s far away, how will you get it to your driveway? Note there are car transport services that can bring your vehicle right to you (at a cost, of course). Use your favorite search engine and you’ll find a big list of them.
  • Condition: If you’re looking for a used model, how can you ensure you’re not going to get a lemon? Even if you’re buying it from a dealer and not a private party, have your favorite local mechanic give it a thorough check. If you can’t make this happen beforehand, make the sale contingent upon a clean bill of health.
  • Maintenance: Is it difficult to fix? Are there local garages that can help with repairs and maintenance for your make and model? If your favorite shop can’t properly service your dream car, look for ones in your area that can. Find out how much both repairs and standard services will cost and figure that into your budget.
  • Other costs: How much will owning your dream car affect your insurance premiums? How much more (or less) will you need to spend on gas? Definitely get a quote from your insurance company, and once you know the specs of the car you can calculate for fuel.

If you have trouble locating your fantasy car or can’t seem to find the right deal, consider a car concierge service. They typically have many more contacts in the auto industry than the average person and can be more effective in their search. They’ll even negotiate the deal if you contract for that.

One last tip: If buying from a private party, make sure they have the title and it’s free of liens. If you can get the VIN number along with the model year and make, that should be enough information to check the title’s lien ps at the applicable state’s DMV website.

Now stop dreaming and start planning!