For many of us, a car is a necessary part of our daily lives, whether for our daily commute or just getting around. But it can also play a major part in our budget, especially when things go wrong. So how can you keep transportation costs from taking over your financial concerns? Here are a few ways you can get around without going under.
1. Take Alternate Means
If you live in an area with good public transportation, take a look into your alternatives. You might be able to save a lot of money by taking the bus, train or subway even a couple of days a week. Your employer might even offer incentives for using public transportation — and it’s better for the environment, too.
Walking and biking might also be an alternative, if distance and weather allow. Taking a jog or a bike ride is especially economical for short trips, and if you do it enough, you can trade in that gym membership for a regular run to the grocery store or bank.
If neither of those are an option, there’s always carpooling. Sites like eRideShare and CarpoolWorld can help you find other drivers and passengers with routes similar to yours. Carpooling can potentially save you hundreds a month in gas costs.
2. Buy Used
If you’re in the market for a new car, or just thinking of replacing the one you currently have, consider buying used instead of new. It’s a well-known fact that a new car starts losing its value the second you drive off the lot, and a car that’s a few years old will run just as well at a fraction of the price. Your car payments will be lower, and your insurance premiums might be less for a used car as well.
When you do buy a car, place high priority on fuel economy and reliability. Treat your car purchase like a long-term investment.
3. Refinance Your Vehicle
If you’re looking to lower your monthly car payment, consider talking to your bank to refinance for a longer-term loan. A long-term loan will raise the cost of the vehicle over the term of the loan, but you will pay less each month. On the other hand, refinancing for a lower rate will lower the total cost you pay for your car, while likely raising your monthly payments. Consider your financial needs and do what feels right for you.
4. Comparison Shop
Little expenses can really add up over time. Do a little research and compare gas prices in your area. If you can find a few cents’ difference on your route to work or your regular stops, take it. If gas stations in your area offer loyalty programs or reward cards, sign up and take advantage. Every little bit helps. By the same token, don’t be afraid to compare car insurance and switch up your policy if you can get a better rate for the same coverage.
5. Get a Tune-Up
Taking good care of your vehicle will save you a bundle in maintenance costs in the long run. Rotate your tires, change your oil, and get the entire vehicle tuned up and checked out every six months to a year. This will not only keep your car running longer, but preserve the resale value of your car on the day you finally have to part ways.