Budgeting For A Car: Five Tips For Owning A Car and Saving Money
There was a reason you couldn’t wait to buy your first car as a teenager: it offered you freedom and independence, a chance to go wherever you wanted whenever you wanted. That probably still holds true. With a car, you can get to your dream job, even if it’s farther from home. You can take a road trip and see more of the country. You’re not at the mercy of friends, family or the bus schedule when you want to run errands.
Sometimes, though, it can feel like the price of freedom is high. You have car payments. Insurance payments. Gas. Regular maintenance. Emergency repairs that come up at the worst possible time. For the average Canadian, it costs around $9000 a year to own and maintain one vehicle. Using a car insurance comparison site is one way to save money on your car insurance. Never settle for the first quote you get!
The good news is that with a little extra effort and planning, there are many ways you can save money on your car.
Buy the right car for your budget, not your ego.
If you don’t already own a car, saving money should start before you even make your purchase. If you don’t have a monthly budget already, it’s time to make one – and factor in transportation. Your budget should include car payments, insurance, gas and regular maintenance. If you have emergency savings – money tucked away for when ‘life happens’ – this is a good place to save for those emergency repairs. If you don’t have an emergency savings fund, now might be the time to start one!
Once you know how much you can comfortably spend, it’s time to do your research. Compare cars, taking into consideration whether you really need all the bells and whistles, what the gas mileage is like, and whether there is a difference in insurance. Also consider your financing options. Although longer loan terms can equal smaller payments, drawn out payment options are causing Canadians to spend more on cars than they can actually afford.
What’s something you pay for, but hope you’ll never have to use?
Yes, you need car insurance – it’s the law and you’ll pay more in the long run without it. There are ways, however, to save some money when getting covered. For example, are you able to pay for a full year of insurance in one instalment? Some companies give discounts for paying upfront, so although you’ll need to have more money on hand at the beginning of the year, you’ll save in the long run. If you’re a new driver, you might be eligible for a discount if you take a defensive driving course, and teenagers might be eligible for discounts based on good grades. In some provinces, winter tires are mandatory, but in others, changing tires with the seasons might get you a break on your insurance. Doing a little bit of research can help you save some money on this necessary cost.
Prevention is the best medicine
In car terms, this means keeping up with regular maintenance – and you’ll thank yourself in the long run for keeping you car in good shape. For example, checking your air filter regularly – and replacing it when it’s dirty – will protect your engine and improve fuel economy. If you’re confident, there are many easy, little repairs you can learn how to do yourself – like replacing your windshield wipers or rotating your tires (which will also help extend the life of your tires). With a quick Google search or YouTube tutorial you’ll be able to handle small repairs and save some cash. Your car’s manual should have a maintenance schedule specific to your vehicle; use it as a guideline to determine what services your car will need on a regular basis.
Death, taxes and gas prices…
The old saying goes, “only two things are guaranteed in life – death and taxes.” You may as well add “gas prices rising” as a third unfortunate reality. Luckily, you already factored in fuel economy when buying your car and engaging in regular maintenance will help you increase your gas mileage. What else can you do to save on gas? How you drive can also have a big impact on how much you’re spending at the pump. Accelerating quickly, speeding and braking hard will have you filling up more often and paying more than necessary. And while this isn’t a money saving tip, many gas stations offer loyalty points with your purchase. You’ll be paying for gas regardless, so you may as well rack up the points and reap the rewards.
Car payments, insurance, maintenance and gas are all necessary costs associated with owning a car. There is one area, though, where you can prevent a completely unnecessary payment – and that’s in tickets and fines. You’ll obviously want to drive safely and obey the rules of the road for your own well-being, but it has the added benefit of saving you money. Don’t forget – on top of the cost of your ticket, you’ll also be at risk for high insurance premiums. So put your phones away, mind the speed limit, be extra careful in school zones and plan to take a cab home from the bar. Not only will you be safer, but your wallet will thank you.
About the Author
Ari Rush is the President of Rush Ventures, a Toronto SEO and digital marketing agency. His previous marketing technology company has helped over 1,500 clients generate online traffic. He has also founded an online telecommunications firm, which he later sold to a private equity group. His public lectures range from Ryerson University to BizLaunch, both well known in North America.