Marketwatch’s marketing team reached out me and asked if they could contribute some car tips for readers. I read Marketwatch almost every day and I bet many of you do too. I asked them to put together an article that should be able to help almost reader. We’re doing step one and just keep driving our 9 and 10 year old cars.
With inflation on the rise, it’s more important than ever to be mindful of your spending. One area where many people tend to overspend is with their cars. Whether it’s paying for gas, car insurance, or routine maintenance, the costs of owning and operating a car can really add up.
I’m a big fan of budgeting so that I can give a place to every one of our hard earned dollars. But after the pandemic, those dollars started disappearing faster than I could track them, and one of the biggest areas that was eating our budget was car expenses.
My husband picked up a part time job to help combat some of the rising costs, and suddenly our gas card payment was 5x its previous balance and showed no signs of slowing down. Thankfully, we’ve worked our budget and found ways to keep fighting inflation on car costs. With a little intention and research, you can do the same!
1. Wait to Buy a New Family Car
In order to fight against inflation and the rising cost of cars, we have decided to wait to purchase a new family car. We currently have two cars, but both are over ten years old.
We had been thinking about upgrading to a newer, bigger model to fit our growing family but with prices continuing to rise, we decided it was best to wait. In the meantime, we are keeping an eye out for good deals on used cars, using a car loan calculator to see how much we should budget for a car payment, and saving up a downpayment for when that perfect car comes up.
2. Choose a Less Popular Car Make and Model
The cost of a car is one of the largest expenses a family will face. With the price of a new car averaging around $30,000, it’s no wonder that many families are looking for ways to save money.
We are choosing to look for less popular car make and model for our family car. That Jeep Grand Cherokee or Ford Bronco look beautiful, but by downsizing to a Jeep Compass or Ford Expedition, we will be able to cut our car payment in half.
While the Compass may not have all the bells and whistles of the Grand Cherokee, it can still provide plenty of features for a fraction of the price. Because of this simple choice, we will be able to save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of our car.
3. Shop Around for New Insurance Premiums
Insurance premiums can be a big expense, so it’s important to shop around and compare rates before renewing your policy. I found out that by switching insurance companies and taking advantage of newcomer discounts, you can save significantly on car insurance rates.
I was recently up for renewal on my car insurance and decided to explore my options. I compared rates from several different companies and ended up switching to Progressive.
I was able to save over 50% on my premium and actually increase my coverage limits! If you’re due for a renewal soon (or even if you’re not), I encourage you to compare rates and see if you can find a better deal.
4. Set Up a Car Savings Fund
After one shocking car repair bill that took up my extra spending money for the month, I decided to start a car sinking fund so that next time, I’m prepared instead of panicked.
A car savings fund can help you cover unexpected expenses, such as a flat tire or an unexpected increase in your insurance premium. It can also help you save up for a new car if your current one becomes too expensive to maintain, or in my case, too small to fit the children.
Setting aside even a small amount of money each month can make a big difference in the long run. I put $50 a month into my car savings fund. While that may not seem like a lot, the average person spends around $1,000 a year in car repair expenses, so I figure having $600 in savings will be a great start toward that.
5. Get a Gas Card or Rewards Programs
Gas prices these days are more fickle than my mood in a house full of toddlers. My husband has used a gas credit card since I’ve known him and has saved 5 cents a gallon every time he fills up. I always thought all credit cards were bad, so I avoided them. However, after seeing how much less he was spending on gas, I decided to become an authorized user.
Gas credit cards typically offer discounts on gas purchases, making them a great way to save money at the pump. And another option is to get a club membership to somewhere like Costco or Sam’s Club to use their gas rewards programs. By signing up for a gas rewards program, you can earn points towards free gas or discounts on gas purchases.
6. Get Your Car Regularly Checked and Tuned-up
This one is hard for me, because I like to pinch pennies and cross my fingers that nothing will go wrong. But, repairs are inevitable with cars, especially when you ignore check engine lights and put off oil changes and tire rotations.
Regular tune-ups and oil changes can actually help you to save money in the long run. By keeping your car in good condition, you can avoid expensive repairs down the road.
Additionally, I learned that regular maintenance can help to improve your gas mileage. This means that you’ll save money every time you fill up your tank.
Although car care may require a little bit of up-front investment, it will pay off in the long run. So next time your check engine light comes on, don’t ignore it – take your car to the mechanic for a tune-up.
7. Shop Around for Auto Repairs
I like going to the same repair shop because I know the guys and they know my car. However, I’ve learned that getting comfortable costs. Now, I choose to take my car to multiple repair shops to get the best quote. My husband has also learned to become a DIY car repairman by watching YouTube videos and learning to complete simple car repairs instead of paying someone else.
While the average cost of a basic oil change has remained relatively stable, the cost of more complex repairs has increased significantly. For example, the average cost of a transmission repair has risen from $1,500 in 2013 to $3,000 in 2018. This trend is likely to continue, as the cost of parts and labor continue to increase.
One way to fight against these rising costs is to shop around for the best price. Many independent repair shops offer competitive prices, and some even offer discounts for customers who pay cash.
Another option is to try to repair the car yourself. With a little research, it’s often possible to find a YouTube tutorial that will walk you through the process step-by-step. While this option may not be suitable for everyone, it can be a great way to save money on auto repairs.
8. Consider Alternative Transportation and Take a Walk
With 2 little boys, we go to the park a lot. In fact, probably the main use of my car is taxiing us to and from the local park. Lately, we have chosen to walk to the park, and the boys actually enjoy it a lot more than loading up into car seats. And in turn, we save on gas money and get in a couple hundred more steps for the day.
If you live close to your work or school, try walking or riding your bike instead of driving. You may be surprised at how much money you can save by leaving your car at home. In addition, walking or biking is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment.
By following these simple tips, you can save a lot of money on your car costs.Gas prices, auto repairs, and maintenance can all be expensive, but there are ways to fight inflation and save money on all of these things. All it takes is a little creativity, hard work and research.