Cars offer us freedom. They get us to work so that we can earn money, but they also cost us money. According to AAA, the average person who drives 15,000 miles a year will shell out $8,469 a year just for the pleasure of owning a car. That adds up to $706 a month. For most of us, this isn’t pocket change! Let’s look at a variety of ways – big and small – you can make owning a car a little easier on your wallet. Here are our five tips to save on car costs.
1. Buy a Cheaper Car
Okay, so this one is pretty obvious, but think it through. A lot of us drool over beautiful sports cars. We want that Beamer logo on our hood or we dream about how jaws will drop when we roll into town in a Porsche or Ferrari. Maybe you’ve got your sights set on more moderate luxury, such as a Lexus, Infiniti, or Audi.
These are all amazing cars, but they’re going to hit your bank account hard and in ways you might not imagine. A more expensive car means higher monthly payments on your car loan. It also means you’ll pay more interest. Your insurance will go up, and so will your registration fee. Luxury cars often require premium gas, as well as specialized parts.
Consider also that modest brands like Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and Chevy offer extremely reliable and comfortable cars with all the modern conveniences you want, like Blue-tooth hookup, backup cameras, onboard navigation, and more. A 2019 Audi RS starts at $56,200. A 2019 Honda Civic starts at $19,750.
2. Buy a Used Car
We all know that a car loses value as soon as it rolls off the lot. Why put yourself financially underwater just for that new car smell? These days, a quick internet search will help you easily find exactly the type of used car you want. You can search the make and model of your dream car, specify all the bells and whistles that you want, and cap the mileage and see which dealers in your area have what you’re looking for. Carfax reports let you see the car’s entire history, so there are no surprises.
In this way, you can basically get a like-new car while saving thousands or tens of thousands in comparison to a brand-new version.
3. Comparison Shop Car Insurance
It’s worth comparing car insurance every few years just to see if you can get a better deal somewhere else. A lot of us find a car insurance company and just stick with them, but you may be missing out of a better deal that could save you hundreds a year.
4. Combine Insurance
Most insurance companies will give you a discount if you purchase multiple types of insurance through them. Consider buying home and car insurance through the same provider. Even combining rental insurance and car insurance for a discount might be possible.
5. Drive the Speed Limit
Don’t shoot the messenger, but the truth is, you’ll use roughly 20% more fuel driving 75mph than 55mph. More fuel means you’ll be filling up your tank more often. It’s also not great for the environment.
6. Keep Your Car in Good Shape
Going to the mechanic is about as fun as visiting the dentist but making regular appointments to both will be good for your health and wallet respectively. Taking your car in for regular service will help your car run smoothly and more efficiently, saving you on gas. Keeping your car in shape can go a long way toward preventing problems down the road. Literally. You’ll do a lot more damage to your car if your timing belt snaps than if you replaced it on time!
7. Keep Your Tires Inflated
Tires with low pressure gobble up fuel, forcing you to spend more money to stay gassed up. They also lower your control on the road, which can be dangerous during rain or ice storms. Keeping your tires inflated can improve your fuel economy by up to 3%. Take care of your car, and it will take care of you!
Want to learn more great ways to keep a little more money in your pocket each month? Take a look at our Budgets and Planning article archive. You can also put our tips into practice and help your friends save more too by starting your own Money Club.