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Before you decide if a new or used car is right for you, you'll need to consider the realistic costs of each. True, new cars cost more and will most likely involve getting locked into payments, however the overall plus to buying or leasing a new car is its reliability. There are no previous owners to be concerned about, and therefore no worries that you've been misled about the car's history.
Chances are you'll probably have to arrange for payments on a used car as well, but if you do your homework before selecting your vehicle, those payments will be considerably less. As far as reliability goes, it only takes a background check of your potential purchase (on a site like carfax.com, for example) to find out what your car has been through prior to reaching the dealership's lot.
You can also save money by purchasing a used car with a high fuel-efficiency rating. A few models that top the list are the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and the Scion xB. Although the price of a used car may seem higher than you want to spend, over time you'll save money at the pump. It all adds up.