I'm aware of the usual pitfalls of leasing a car (I found this question very helpful) and I know the general rule is that if you can't buy the car in cash, you can't afford it. However, I need a new car within the next several months.
I don't/won't have enough saved up to be able to pay cash for a better car than what I drive now, which is not technically mine (and so can't be used as a trade in). I will have enough for the signing fees for a lease (say $2000 due at signing, with a $200 monthly payment, and buyout of $18000 at the end of the lease period).
My question is this: If I already know that I intend to purchase the car at the end of the lease term, and the lease payment is low enough that I could pay it and save at least $100 extra every month to put towards the purchase of the car, is leasing still a bad idea?
If I have ~$4000 saved by the end of the lease term, then I should only need to finance ~$14000. $14000 in three years for a "used" car that I've had since it was brand new seems much more reasonable to me than $30000 for a brand new car now. I know I cannot afford the new car now, but I'm very sure that I'll be able to afford the "used" car in three years.
Does this plan seem like a reasonable way to proceed, or a big mistake?