we don't have a monthly car payment, even though we've only had our "new" van for a year.
Ideally, we would have a savings account and an emergency fund. And ideally, our savings account would be bigger (now we have to build it back up all over again), but we were so glad to have some liquid funds when our van died and needed a new transmission. (We got a good vehicle but didn't know when we bought it that the year our van was manufactured was a bad one for those particular transmissions.)
For a family living on teacher's wages, the news that your vehicle needs costly repairs is a sobering one. But how much worse it would have been if we hadn't had that money in savings and were still paying off our van!
The only way we have found that works to regularly add money to that savings or emergency fund is by transferring 10% of our income each month to that account, as soon as we're paid. Actually, my husband does that, for which I am grateful because it's hard for me to see that money go, but I don't miss it when it's not there to use. Since we also give a 10% tithe to our church each month, that's 20% of our income that we "give away". But we've made it work and feel like both ten-percents provide us insurance that continually bless us.
Even though we're almost $4,000 poorer this month, our van is back in working order and we didn't have to go into debt (and pay all that interest over the long term) to get it there.
So, in the long run, "paying yourself first"--that regular percentage every month--really pays off and helps you save money.