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Even if you’ve worked tirelessly on your personal budget and stuck to it, you may be shooting yourself in foot with your automobile. Yes, you included your car payment and auto insurance as separate line items, and you have an auto repair slush fund just in case.
This does not mean, however, that your number crunching is full proof, and if you are still falling short monthly, here are some hidden issues you might not have considered that are eating away at your take-home pay.
Buying New When You Can’t Afford It
Did you buy a new car even if the payments were a bit of stretch?
Is your last automobile several years older than your new vehicle?
If so, you’ve just added tremendous expense to your monthly budget. If your previous car was paid off and you now have car payments, there’s several hundred dollars a month right there. Even if your payments are low, you’ve still added an expense you didn’t have previously, whether you budgeted for it or not.
Did you have to increase your auto insurance coverage because of your new car?
Newer models are more valuable and require higher policy amounts. If the car isn’t paid off, you also had to insure to cover a total loss of the vehicle to protect the financer. Used might be better for two reasons: One, you may be able to purchase it outright and avoid car payments, which will facilitate reason number two: You’ll be able to insure the car for less.
Talk with a local insurance agent to find out your best option to get some new wheels without straining your budget.
Failing to Maintain the Vehicle
Whether you’ve just bought a car or owned yours for quite some time, failing to maintain the vehicle will produce other hidden costs that can wreak havoc on your budget. There’s a reason why your car’s manufacturer recommends a regular maintenance schedule, and this is to ensure that the vehicle operates optimally at all times.
This isn’t just about breaking down and having to deal with expensive auto shop repairs. This is about saving money to operate your automobile.
For example, if your tires are low or worn, or if your car is out of alignment, you’re burning more fuel to drive. This also holds true if your oil and other fluids are dirty. If you run your air conditioner in the summer without refreshing the coolant, your engine is working harder to keep itself and the inside of your vehicle comfortable, which also burns oil and reduces fuel efficiency.
Finally, yes, if you don’t maintain your auto properly, it will break down and you’ll have to tap into that slush fund.
These are just some ways hidden auto costs can make a workable budget not work. Everything might look fine on paper, but if the numbers aren’t adding up at month end, something is costing you more than you realized.
Is it those new car payments? Did you underestimate how much more insurance you can afford? Is your vehicle running efficiently? All of these things can cost, so keep an eye on your vehicle’s budget lines to make sure unexpected expenses aren’t creeping in.