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How to Decide Which Car You Can Afford

If you plan to finance your vehicle, Mohawk Ford provides the tools you need to decide which car you can afford. Determining your budget beforehand takes a great deal of anxiety out of your car buying experience.

You’ll feel more confident about the financial decisions you’re making if you think through your finances, brush up on financing terminology, prioritize, remember add-ons, and take your time before you sign.

How Much Should I Budget for a Monthly Payment?

An accepted rule of thumb is that total monthly debt should not be more than a third of your monthly take-home pay. This number includes all monthly debt, however. If you have credit card debt, medical debt, or student loan debt, you need to include that total number when thinking about adding a car payment.

This allows you money for housing, utilities, insurance, and food. Hopefully, you’ll even have some wiggle-room for saving money, too.

Think Through Finances

The Ford Company has a number of tools available to assist customers in their financing decisions. Find out your credit score, use our payment calculator and trade-in estimator, and watch our videos about budgeting to think through what makes sense for your monthly budget.

Call ahead to get pricing on the vehicles you’re interested in. Use the Mohawk Ford New and Pre-Owned Inventory pages to look around from the comfort of home. Not only can you compare vehicles online, but you can also print the window stickers of the vehicles you’d like to see when you come to our showroom.

Go ahead and get pre-approved with your current lender. That incentivizes our finance team to beat the terms with which you walk in the door.

Incentives and Specials

Once you’re at the dealership, don’t forget to ask about incentives and specials. We don’t just have new car incentives; we offer pre-owned incentives, too. Sometimes special offers are available for service people, first responders, and veterans, but you won’t always know about them if you don’t ask!


Make sure you understand the terminology of your financing agreement. There are no dumb questions.

Ask to see the final purchasing agreement before you sign. Make sure there are no unexpected fees or additional features for which you haven’t asked. If something doesn’t make sense, ask about it!

Make sure you know the total loan amount. How many months/years will it take to pay off the loan? What is your interest rate? If the terms sound too steep, go back to the drawing board.

At Mohawk Ford, we want you to feel comfortable and confident, not burdened and overwhelmed.


Think through what you need and what you want. Do you need a commuter vehicle with an emphasis on fuel economy? Do you need a vehicle that can support your weekend kayaking hobby safely and easily? Are you finally purchasing your dream make and model?

Use our Build and Price feature on our website to look through new car inventory and build the vehicle to fit your unique circumstances. We have lots of features that come standard, but you may want to add some available features, too.

Price several options, keeping your budget in mind.

Don’t Forget

When you’re considering a vehicle purchase, don’t forget the extras that can impact your budget. Fuel, maintenance, and insurance have an influence on monthly expenses.

Ask how much fuel your vehicle holds. Think about the estimated miles per gallon for the vehicle in which you’re interested.

Maintenance costs on a new car (or a new-to-you car) should be minimal, but go ahead and ask about service packages, coupons, or warranties that may help soften any budget concerns. Discuss the recommended oil grade for oil changes, tire costs, and think through general service costs.

It’s unlikely that your new vehicle purchase will drastically impact your insurance premium; however, if you’re purchasing a sports car or for a first-time driver, it’s definitely worth a call to your insurance agent ahead of time. Insurance costs can have an impact on your available monthly budget.

Take Your Time

This purchase is a big deal. We are working on your timeline, not the other way around. Think through your options, analyze your budget, compare vehicles and features, and do your research.

Mohawk Ford has been serving the greater Hamilton area for over 50 years. We are experienced professionals who understand the investment and commitment it takes to purchase a vehicle, whether this is your first time buying or your twenty-first.

Ask us all the questions. Take the time you need. We want you to be 100% satisfied.

How to Decide Which Car You Can Afford