Average car payment pushes $500

Car keys on loan application

You can save big bucks if you're spending as much as the average American on their cars and trucks.

A study by Experian, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, says the average balance on an auto loan is $15,654 and the average monthly car payment is $495.

Texas drivers have highest average monthly payment -- a whopping $570.

You can buy or lease a very nice ride for half that much -- and probably save on gas and insurance, too.

That's especially true if you trade a big $30,000 pickup or SUV for a $17,000 mid-size sedan or smaller SUV.

The extra cash can help you repay big credit card bills or keep up with rising mortgage payments.