Tips for Affording Your Car

When it comes to getting around town, get more mileage out of your money. Using public transportation will always save you money in the long run. But unless you live in a major city that offers good public transportation, owning a car is a necessity. Here are some practical ways to save on gas, maintenance and other car-related expenses.

Save Money on Gas

  • Drive less and save more by planning ahead. Make a list and plan weekly errands based on destination and timing. Always take the shortest route and when possible, avoid driving during rush hour.
  • Carpool with coworkers who live in your neighborhood. This not only saves gas, it reduces wear and tear on your car.
  • Try walking or bicycling for short trips.
  • Go the speed limit or slower; the faster you drive the more fuel your car requires.
  • Drive with steady hands and steady feet. The smooth operation of your car actually impacts fuel usage.
  • Idling cars waste fuel. Most cars today are fuel injected, which means it’s not necessary to “warm it up” more than sixty seconds, even in cold weather.
  • Saving a few cents per gallon of gas can add up in a month’s time. Always try to find the lowest price, and avoid full-service prices by opting for self-service.

Save Through Maintenance

  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated at all times and keep the wheels aligned. You’ll get better gas mileage and a longer life span out of your tires.
  • Keep your car properly tuned for top fuel efficiency and to avoid costly repairs later. Follow the maintenance schedule in your car owner’s manual. Regular oil changes help keep your car in top shape and regular maintenance inspections can identify small problems before they become large ones.
  • Avoid surprise charges. Make sure to get any repair estimate for your car in writing before the work begins.
  • Learn basic car maintenance skills at a community college or find someone to teach you.

Save on Car Loans and Insurance

Car Loans

  • New cars depreciate fast. As soon as you drive off the lot, your car is worth several hundred dollars less than what you just paid for it. If you choose to buy a new car, consider a dealer’s “demo” model for real savings on a new vehicle.
  • Make the largest down payment you can afford without sacrificing your financial well-being.
  • The more you pay up front, the less you will have to borrow and repay with interest over time.
  • Make sure you can comfortably afford the entire car payment every month and be sure to understand the terms, the length, and all associated costs of the loan before signing any agreements.

Car Insurance

  • Shop around. It’s easy to get competitive quotes via the Internet. Take advantage of the competition for your business to find the best rates.
  • If you own a home, ask for discounts on consolidating auto and homeowner insurance with the same company.
  • If you have less than a perfect driving record, consider taking a driver safety course. Upon completion of the course, points may be removed from your record, which can result in lower insurance premiums.
  • Be sure to take advantage of “safe driver” discounts if your insurance company offers them. And remember, having a car equipped with airbags may reduce your premium.

Reducing your transportation costs will pay off down the road. Cutting costs now will help you save more money later – and that’s one path worth traveling.

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