Outside of the obvious staples that are shelter and food, for many people, an automobile is the greatest monthly expense you will incur. Granted, the convenience, and sometime critical need, of driving yourself around cannot be argued, but it comes with a hefty price.
Of course, the easiest way to save money on your car is simply not to use it. Walking, jogging and bicycling are not only free, but also good for your health. In many places, public transportation is a good option for the budget conscious. But, if you need to drive yourself, there are still ways to cut some corners.
- Instead of buying new, get a quality used car. It is very nice to be the first person to own a car. Seeing an odometer with less than 15 miles on it when you drive it off the lot is a great feeling. However, that feeling also just cost you a couple thousand dollars. Do you really want to get an extra loan to cover the costs of having a brand new car? As soon as you sign the papers on a new car, it’s gone down in value. Instead, consider what is now referred to as a “pre-owned” car. Dealers clean these cars up to where they almost seem new, but obviously they cost far less. Some may have been rentals or leases, while others were just owned for a short time by someone that couldn’t afford the payments. Instead of being the one bringing back a new car, take advantage of the savings and get the car you can afford. With the multiple car history services available these days, you can do a little research to make sure you aren’t buying a lemon.
- Change you payment schedule. First of all, before purchasing any automobile, check with your personal financial institution to see what type of loans are available, rather than going through the dealer. Chances are, the people who hold your money will give you a better deal than the guy trying to get his hands on it. Secondly, check into your payment options. Sometimes you can make multiple payments in a month – even say, 2 payments of $200 instead of one payment of $400 – and because of when the interest is calculated, you can save a good deal of time and money over the length of the loan. Also ask about making additional principal payments if you have the funds to do it. This will also result in paying off the debt sooner and for less, but each organization will have its own rules on these items, so make sure to ask.
- Update your insurance. The digital age has given us many conveniences like automatic bill payment. Many insurance companies even extend this to automatic insurance extensions. It is easy to stop paying attention to a monthly payment you know you have to make. It’s even easier to skip reading through a stack of contract information. Your insurance company is more than aware of this, and is more than happy to keep you ignorant to “minor” rate changes and the such. Not they are actively trying to deceive you, but they’re happy when you don’t pay attention. Don’t give them that satisfaction. Take some time and get rate quotes from a number of companies. You may be surprised at what you find. If nothing else, you may be able to wrangle a better rate out of your own insurance company. Consider adjusting your deductibles. If you don’t get in many accidents, the one-time expense will end up being less than what you’re paying for a lower deductible every month.
- Drive smart and maintain your vehicle properly. Quick starts and stops aren’t good for your car – or you. The same is true of excessive speeding and reckless driving. Not only will this wear on your vehicle, but it also leads to accidents which can cost you much more than you ever want to pay. It may sound like driving school rhetoric, but it’s true. As is getting regular oil changes and tune-ups, keeping up your air pressure in your tires and other routine maintenance. This will not only add to the life (and resale value) of your car, it will keep it running more efficiently, saving you in gas and undue repair costs.