Cutting Car Costs
Save money in your budget by reducing your monthly auto expenses.
Did you know auto expenses make up roughly 15 percent of the average American’s budget? A vehicle is usually your second biggest asset and that’s just what it costs to purchase. Monthly maintenance, gas and upkeep can really set you back, and an accident or major repair can wreck your budget.
So how do you stay ahead those monthly car costs? The advice below can help you save money every month on auto expenses.
Improve your gas mileage to significantly cut your monthly costs
If you’ve never tried to maintain the best mileage possible, you might be surprised at what happens to your gas costs when you do. Just a few extra miles per gallon on a 15-gallon tank can add up to 30 extra miles or more on each tank of gas. For most, that’s a whole extra day’s commute to and from work!
Here are some tips to maximize your gas mileage:
- Clean out your trunk and passenger areas to remove all of the extra weight. Less weight equals better mileage.
- Fill up with the right grade of fuel and don’t wait until the last minute to fill up. Also, fill up earlier in the morning or later at night when the air is cool; the gas is denser and you’ll get more in the tank.
- Drive with the windows up and A/C on for highway driving to reduce drag; but drive with the windows down and A/C off in city driving conditions to save fuel.
- Change your oil regularly
- Keep your tires at the manufacturer’s specifications for your car.
Make sure you have the best rates on your insurance
Talk to your agent regularly to check for discounts and take time to shop around for car insurance at least once each year. Also, keep in mind the amount of insurance you need on your vehicle. For instance, if you have a late 90’s model, then it might be worth it to drop collision. Just don’t get caught with less insurance than you need.
And of course, be a good driver. Most insurance companies give discounts to good drivers. Your rates can also go up as much as 15 percent for speeding tickets and moving violations.
Maintenance is key
Every vehicle comes with information on when to perform necessary maintenance. Follow the instructions! A well-maintained auto can last for years and the longer you can use your vehicle, the less frequently you need to reinvest. Following the maintenance schedule exactly will also increase the resale value.
A saver’s tip for avoiding credit for serious repairs
Insurance protects you for accidents, but what about internal repairs? Most cars will function pretty well for the first five years or more before major parts start to break. Unfortunately, when these parts go, the repairs can often be expensive. So what can you do?
Create an auto repair fund to use once the manufacturer’s warranty runs out. Once you pay off the loan in-full, divert the amount you were using on monthly payments to creating this fund. Set aside the money and don’t touch it unless your car needs a repair. This will help you avoid credit card debt over major repairs and you can skip getting those expensive extended warranty plans.
Stuck in neutral?
If your car costs are just too high that even the above recommendations won’t get your budget on track, then you may want to consider downsizing your vehicle, selling off a car or two if you have multiple vehicles in the family, or looking into transportation alternatives.
Also consider that your auto may not be the only problem – other debts may be eating up your budget and making it harder to stay ahead. If your budget is getting tight, call us today. A certified credit counselor can provide a free consultation to help you determine where you’re overspending and how to get back on track. Call or complete a request for a free Debt & Budget Analysis.