A lot of your question is dependent on the lifestyle you expect to live. What kind of car are you talking about? What kind of neighborhood do you want to live in? Other questions like that.
A prior post to your question stated $30k annual income, which by some standards would be decent in any Metro area in Texas.
At 30k (gross), let’s take out 20% for taxes and other payroll deductions (hopefully including healthcare). That leaves $24k or $2k take home a month. Well, let’s appropriate 30% of take home to housing. That would be $600 for rent, electric, and water. Now you start to see the kind of neighborhood you might be living in. And…$600 is not bad budget for a 1 bedroom place. Probably a decent part of town.
Now for a car. Once again, what type of car are we talking about? This question is a little harder to calculate because it depends on you. If you are going to finance, you will need some credit. You mention you are going to turn 18. Probably not a lot of credit going on for you right now. Without that you will probably need a large down payment or a co-signer. But let’s use a roundabout number based on the above take home income and say 15% to the car. That is a payment of $300 a month. Insurance now is an issue. I cannot even begin to guess that cost because a lot depends on the vehicle, coverage, your age (18..ouch), and credit (ouch again). Let’s just say $200 for "liability only" coverage which in the minimum required for driving a vehicle around.
The rest $900 goes for gas, food, clothes, laundry, entertainment, gas again, and putting some into SAVINGS. It all adds up fast. Also, as most people begin to accumulate at 18…credit cards. They are great for building credit initially...just be cautious and responsible.
So, it can be done on $30k a year. The question now becomes, “how will you make that?” In order to get that kind of income you would need to make about $14 an hour. Minimum wage is currently at $6.55, but will be $7.25 next July. Based on that figure you would be brining in about $15k annually. That would cut this hypothetical budget in half. It unfortunately changes your neighborhood, your vehicle, and the amount left over for spending. Remember some things don’t have too much flexibility. Your electricity, water, insurance, gas and food will probably be the same regardless of where your live or the kind of car your drive (gas guzzlers excluded).
1. Try to save enough to buy your car outright. Something cheap and dependable. One day, you can buy that car of your dreams…or at least one with a new car smell.
2. Find a roommate to help split costs. Too many details to go into; but believe me it is more economical to support 2 or 3 people than it is to support 1. Oh, and put everything in writing.
3. Get a credit card but use responsibly. Never charge them up. Use for important things, like car repairs or a nice suit. (always good to have a suit) Keep payments in good standing. Realize that your rates will start high as an 18 year old. The goal one day is to have them at low rates, but never use them.
4. Listen to your parent’s advice (if they are responsible people). Never underestimate their knowledge of the world and finances.
Good luck! Texas is a great place to live.