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A general guideline is that your monthly car payment should not be more than 20 percent of your take-home pay. However, people look for cars with their hearts as well as their heads, and that can be a little dangerous. That's where How Much Car Can I Afford? calculator comes in handy. It can prevent you from getting in over your head when you are looking at a car. The calculator helps you find an estimated price range in which to check and will even suggest some cars that would fit your budget. Here's more information on how to set up your automotive budget.Consider a second-tier car, from the less popular — but still reliable — manufacturers. Well-known vehicles like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry can cost thousands more than a comparable Chevrolet Malibu or Nissan Altima, even though these are good cars. With this in mind, build a target list of three different cars that meet your needs and fall in your budget.