Did you know that you can save money on almost anything if you try hard enough? Whether it’s becoming a fervent coupon-clipper or downgrading your cable subscription, there’s almost always a way to shave money from your budget.
One area where this can be especially tricky is your monthly car maintenance budget. Though many of your vehicle expenses may seem like they’re set in stone, there are lots of simple things you can do (like oil changes and tire rotations) to help prevent expensive repairs before they even start.
Here are my tips for keeping your overall vehicle expenses down and more money in your pocket.
Tips to Lower Your Monthly Car Maintenance Budget:
Spend Less on Gas:
Since gas prices fluctuate so much, it can be difficult to come out ahead on a regular basis. A few ways to save on gas are:
• Know when to buy: Gas prices can change at any moment for a number of reasons, but there is usually a pattern that the rates follow. Prices will generally be lower in the morning than in the afternoon, and gas is usually less expensive on Wednesdays than it is during the weekend. Also, take note of significant drops in fuel prices and use the opportunity to top off your tank. The money you save over time can really add up.
• Walk, bike or take public transportation: We usually don’t need to drive everywhere we go. Whether it’s a trip to a nearby store or a commute into work, explore the cost of other transportation options. If you live in a city, there may be a bus or train that will get you to the office quickly and for less money than you spend on fuel, parking and other car expenses. And biking rather than driving to the grocery store when you run out of peanut butter is cheaper transportation and a great way to work a little exercise into your day.
Keep Up on Regular Check-ups:
No one likes paying for car repairs, but there are ways to minimize your expenses. Simple car maintenance and check-ups, done on a regular schedule, can prevent major damage to your vehicle. Catching a minor issue before it becomes more serious can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Here are a few simple car maintenance tips:
• Set an oil change schedule: This is one of the simplest, cheapest and most effective ways to get a longer life out of your vehicle. Set an oil-change schedule and stick to it.
• Set a vehicle check-up schedule: Servicing your vehicle regularly is a great way to save. Have a trained mechanic take a look at your vehicle every four to six months, whether or not you notice a problem. The mechanic may be able to catch something that you didn’t notice before it becomes a serious issue—and an expensive repair. For another way to save, look out for the maintenance coupons regularly offered by mechanics.
Review Your Car Insurance Policy:
Car insurance is required to drive in all 50 states, but not all car insurance policies are the same. Depending on your coverage needs, you may be overpaying for your policy. Here are a couple ways to save on car insurance:
• Ask about auto insurance discounts: Car insurance companies offer discounts for things you may qualify for but may not know about. Younger drivers may be eligible for a “good student” discount, and bundling your car and homeowners insurance can reduce your bill as well. Talk to your insurance agent about the discounts offered by your insurance company to make sure you’re taking advantage of the savings to which you’re entitled.
• Compare automobile insurance quotes: To make sure you’re paying only for the coverage you need, request and compare auto insurance quotes from several providers. You may find a better rate for a policy that offers similar or even better coverage.
There are a lot of other ways to save on vehicle expenses if you know where to look. These are just a few suggestions for shaving money off of your monthly car maintenance budget. If you are working on a tight budget, there are also a lot of coupon sites that can help free up some cash by saving you money on regular expenses.
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