Many people spend more money on their car every month than just about anything else. However, when asked if they know how to save money on both buying and running a car, few can give you more than a couple of tips. Buying and then running your car, in an average city, can easily cost upwards of $700 a month. That’s why, if you’re trying to save money, your car is the first place to start.
1. Buy Used
As the old adage says, the minute you drive a new car off the lot, it’s already decreased a few thousand dollars in value. In fact, over the years, it’s been a well-publicized fact that a number of American millionaires don’t buy new cars, which goes a long way to explaining why they’re millionaires and you’re not. For your next car purchase, decide on a car you like and then scour the used car dealerships. You’ll find you can pick up a car just a year or two old and with low mileage, for thousands of dollars less than a new one. Make sure it has a decent warranty and keep up with maintenance, and that car should last you as long as a new one. Of course, because your car loan will be lower, your monthly payments will be less too.
2. No Frills
When you’ve decided on the car you want to buy, you’ll find yourself in the dealer’s office sitting through a hard sell about car wax, paint sealants, fabric protectors and more. Not only are they high in price, you don’t need them! Buy the basic car, with no fancy extras since, with a car loan, you’ll end up paying interest on all those extras too. In other words, nothing’s as cheap as it sounds.
3. Keep Your Car
Don’t trade in your car every couple of years and buy a new one. It’s the biggest waste of money. Again, American millionaires like Warren Buffet run their cars for many years, getting the most out of each car purchase they can.
4. Oil Changes
A great way to save money on a car is to stop doing oil changes every 3,000 miles. Where once upon a time a 3,000 mile oil change was recommended, nowadays it’s not. Most experts will tell you, on a car that was manufactured in the last eight to ten years, an oil change every 7,500 miles is plenty. Cutting out those excessive oil changes can save you $100 a year or more, depending on how much you drive.
5. Walk More
Compared to people in most other countries, Americans drive MANY short distances they could easily walk. If you’re taking a trip to the store, or dropping your kids off at school, and it’s only a few blocks away — walk. Your entire family will get exercise, and you’ll save on gas, oil, car maintenance and perhaps insurance.
6. Public Transit
Just because you own a car, it doesn’t mean you always have to use it all the time. If your area has good public transportation, use it for trips where you won’t be carrying a lot of belongings or where, once you get there, the fee for parking your car will be high.
Save the car for the weekends, and commute to work on public transportation. Not only can it save you hundreds of dollars a month, bu instead of being stuck in traffic, you can relax on the bus or train, happily reading your book or watching a movie on your iPod.