Transportation is going to be an important part of your budget. The most budget-friendly way to get around is using public transportation (and the occasional Uber). Is this a possibility for you? Can you move someplace closer to work and make this a reality? Ride share? How about a bike? There are the ancillary benefits of being environmentally-friendly and being very inexpensive.
If not, then you need a car or truck. One way many Americans afford their cars and trucks is to lease them. Leasing generally involves a smaller monthly payment and a shorter payment term than purchasing a vehicle, even if at a very low or no interest rate. Does it make sense to buy or lease?
A lease is a contract in which the leasing company agrees to purchase your vehicle back after the lease period for a guaranteed price and in a pre-agreed condition. If the car is not in that condition, e.g., more miles driven, dings, scratches, worn tires, poor mechanical condition, upholstery tears, you pay for those defects at the time you turn in your vehicle. -Keep in mind that the leasing company needs to sell your vehicle, and anything that detracts from their ability to sell it at the price negotiated up front will have you paying them to restore it to that pre-agreed condition. If you are going to lease, take excellent care of that vehicle. The affordability of the lease decision is not really known until the term of the lease expires!
Remember, your budget must allow for additional expenditures as gas, maintenance, insurance, and parking.
If you have to get a car or truck, consider buying a used vehicle. Hey, maybe a car that came off a lease! After all, you can be assured it’s in great condition.