If you have a small budget and dont want to fool with costly repairs, I hate to say it but you may want to look into older Asian cars. Honda, Toyota, Subaru. Before you buy you need to check this to aviod footing an unforseen bill:
Look inside radiator when its cool, see if its got what looks like mud in it.
Check the tires, are they worn funny or evenly, are they bald?
Look under the car and see if its leaking and what. Put the fluid its leaking on the back of your hand to see the color. If its clear and makes your skin dry - its brake fluid and you need to walk away (because brake lines are actually cheap but to get a shop to repair it is $$), if its leaking PINK tranny fluid, they have run it too long, it has broken down and the tranny may need work at some point. Rear main engine seals leak often but just mean you have to top off often, unless it is gushing out. Look under the rear of the car, this can tell you a lot. If there's oil kicked up on the axle or floor pans, this thing has been leaking a lot of something lately. Is the power steering leaking? ETC.
When you drive a vehicle you may buy, make sure the brake pedal feels good, the emergency brake works, the wipers, flashers, signals, head/tail lights, horn work. These will all help you pass inspection. Listen for funny noises. Funny noises often mean BAD things when people are trying to sell you a car.
If you have any questions feel free to message me! Good luck. I bought my 94 Bronco when I was 15 and still have it six years later. Sure, its been though a lot, but it was a great buy.