'Can I Get A Reliable Car For $5,000?' - Dave Ramsey Tells Caller She Can 'Absolutely' Find A Decent Car In This Price Range

Dave Ramsey, known for his financial guidance, has recently addressed the topic of purchasing cars without debt. On a Facebook reel posted on April 13, Ramsey responded to a caller, who had $5,000 available to buy a car after assisting her parents.

Initially, she inquired about car payments, but Ramsey stopped her, stating, “I know you didn’t call Dave Ramsey and ask to go into car debt.” Her primary concern was the quality of a car she could find for $5,000. She asked, “Can I get a reliable car for $5,000?”

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He assured her, "Sure. Oh absolutely. Yeah, you can get a decent car for 5,000 bucks,” emphasizing the possibility of purchasing a reliable, short-term vehicle within her budget.

Ramsey proposed a strategic plan for the caller to avoid car loans. He advised her to save the monthly car loan payment, approximately $500 per month, for 10 months, and use the $5,000 plus her current car’s value to buy a $10,000 vehicle. Ramsey assumed the trade-in would remain stable, although, in reality, the value usually depreciates.

The advice sparked a debate among viewers in the post’s comments section. One viewer argued against Ramsey’s suggestion: “You’re not going to find a reliable car for $5,000 and be spending a fortune on repairs. If you’re going to buy used, get a Toyota or Lexus." This comment points out the potential additional costs of maintenance that could detract from the savings of a cheaper upfront purchase. 

Another commenter offered a different perspective, suggesting even more frugality: “$5,000 is a ton of money for a car. Could get a $2,000 Corolla or Civic and start saving with the rest EASILY.” This perspective suggests a smaller initial investment to enhance financial agility.

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While Ramsey advises on debt-free car ownership, finding a reliable car under $5,000 can be challenging. Tools such as J.D. Power’s reliability surveys, where a score of “80/100” signifies an “average” reliability rating, can be useful. But, such vehicles typically cost between $7,000–$10,000. The 2013 Volkswagen CC and 2013 Hyundai Accent score well for their reliability but exceed the $5,000 budget, as reported by US News. 

The “best” approach depends on the individual’s situation and risk tolerance. An individual with good repair skills or connections to reliable mechanics might go for a cheaper car.  However, those looking for long drives or family transport might look for reliability rather than cost. They would not mind a car loan and careful budgeting.

The key takeaway is to be realistic about your needs and budget. Conduct thorough research on used car options in your area. Consider their reliability ratings, maintenance expenses, and prospective trade-in values. Before taking a loan, verify that the monthly payments are manageable and align with your overall financial goals.

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*This information is not financial advice, and personalized guidance from a financial adviser is recommended for making well-informed decisions.

Jeannine Mancini has written about personal finance and investment for the past 13 years in various publications including Zacks, The Nest, and eHow. She is not a licensed financial adviser, and the content herein is for information purposes only and is not, and does not constitute or intend to constitute, investment advice or any investment service. While Mancini believes the information contained herein is reliable and derived from reliable sources, there is no representation, warranty, or undertaking, stated or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information.

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