Get a Car Payment That's Less Than Your Electric Bill

Americans spend a lot of money on their cars, and most of that goes to the car's monthly payment.  Let's face it: most people aren't in a position to pay cash for a new car, so they finance or lease one.  For most people, affording a new car has a lot to do with price, and even more with fitting the monthly car payment into their budget.  Cheap car payments are key.

With budgets stretched tighter than ever, a cheap car payment can is even more important, but may seem harder to get.  You may think that cars you actually like are too expensive for a cheap payment.  And if you can afford the payments, it won't be for a car you want.

In reality, that's not exactly true. There are great cars you can own for monthly payments of about $200. Still too much? Think about this: If you spend $5 for your daily Starbucks run every working day of the month, you've already blown about $110. Spend another $5 on lunch at work every day, and there's another $110. Start brown bagging and making coffee at home (or drinking the stuff brewed at your office) and that $200 car payment becomes affordable.

Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla has long been a favorite of people looking for reliable and comfortable transportation on a budget. Now, the Corolla can be all those things on an even smaller budget. In some regions, including the Central Atlantic, Toyota is offering a $149 per month lease on a 2010 Corolla. Just under $2,000 is due at signing, and the lease runs for 36 months. Even better, if you qualify for the full $4,500 Cash for Clunkers rebate in select regions, Toyota will give you a 60-month lease on the Corolla, for only $99 a month, with $999 due at signing.

Nissan Altima

The Nissan Altima is the often-overlooked alternative to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord -- but it shouldn't be. The Altima offers sportier driving characteristics and stand out from the crowd of ho-hum midsize cars. Now Nissan is offering a $199 per month lease for 39 months on the Altima in some regions. Take advantage of this deal and you'll get a fun-to-drive midsize car and a ho-hum compact car monthly payment.

Honda Accord

Keeping your payment around $200 a month doesn't mean you have to stick with a small car. If you need space, the Honda Accord is a great place to find it. The Accord offers good performance, a comfortable cabin, and space for five to stretch out. Now the Accord also offers budget stretching. Honda is currently offering a 36-month lease on the Accord for only $199 per month. About $2,000 is due at signing, but for just a little cash each month, you can drive off in one of the most comfortable and reliable sedans on the market.

Chevrolet Cobalt

The Chevrolet Cobalt is turning into a little success story for General Motors. Now that the company is turning its focus from large trucks and SUVs to small cars, buyers are finding a lot to like about the Cobalt. It's one of the top 10 most-bought cars in the government's Cash for Clunkers program, and Chevrolet is currently offering zero-percent financing for five years on the Cobalt to qualified buyers -- making it available for just $261 per month with no money down. However, if you qualify for the full $4,500 Cash for Clunkers rebate and apply it to the Cobalt -- as so many others have done -- your monthly payment drops to $186.

Toyota Yaris

The Toyota Yaris may not be ready for the drag strip, but it's a practical and affordable urban runner. Its tight exterior dimensions make slipping through city streets easy, and its functional interior makes it easy to bring all your stuff with you. With Toyota's current lease offers on the Yaris, you'll be able to fill it with a lot more stuff, too. In some regions, Toyota is offering a 36-month lease on the Yaris for only $129 a month. If you qualify for the full $4,500 Cash for Clunkers rebate, in some areas the monthly lease rate drops to $79 per month for five years. Only $79 -- that's probably less than you spend on cable each month.