When deciding how much you can afford for a car payment, take a realistic inventory of your expenses. Take a notebook with you and write down everything you buy for a week or two, that way you’ll be able to come up with an honest budget for your new car. Your credit score will be best if your expenses are only 30% of your income before taxes. You’re better off choosing a car you can comfortably afford over one you would have to stretch to make the payments on and saving money in case of an emergency. Just one missed payment can hurt your credit and force you into a higher interest loan further down the line.