When it comes to being a parent, some costs are necessary, others are not. For most families, the car falls within the former. Whether it’s the daily school run, doing the shopping or the various other duties that ultimately arise, a vehicle is a big part of family life.
That being said, it is seldom cheap. Other than your house, it’s hard to think of something that comes with as many upkeep cost. Whether it’s car insurance, maintenance, fuel or servicing, managing the financial aspect of a car is a lot like handling a whole second account. With this in mind, are your car costs holding you back? Unless you take control of the various aspects, these costs can start eating away at your income, until there’s very little left.
Car insurance is a legal requirement, but how do you know if you’re getting the best deal for you? Depending on your age, your job and the car you drive, there are a number of factors with predetermined many of these costs. To beat these statistical averages, you can ask for a smart box policy. Many providers offer these as a means to collect data about your driving habits and reward you accordingly.
A similar argument can also be made for your driving frequency. If you just use your car for small local trips, seldom using highways and other dangerous areas, let your provider know. You can use fuel receipts and the milage on your vehicle as a rough guide to support your claim. After all, the less you drive, the less likely something will happen. The same argument can also be said for speed limiters. If your car can’t go above the speed limit, then it’s not possible for you as a driver to overspeed.
Likewise, have a look around and determine the cost of replacing your car with a (preferably better) replacement. If this beats the cost of repairs (including the excess from your insurance) your policy isn’t actually saving you money. Try moving to a third party policy and see if the money saved can be put to better use elsewhere.
The less fuel you use, the more you save. While you can’t change how often you drive – someone will always need to do the shopping – you can drive more efficiently. 55 mph is argued as the most efficient driving speed, while slowing down naturally (rather than breaking) and not leaving the motor in idle all stop wasting fuel. This can actually make a noticeable dent in your expenses. Sometimes it’s not the car that holds us back, it’s our own driving habits.
However, if you want a quick and easy fix, try changing to better tyres. There are a great deal of economy tyres available that offer great fuel efficiency, look for ones with the lowest ‘rolling resistance’.
For most people, maintenance and repairs are the most difficult expenses to deal with. A surprise breakdown or fault can often eat up an entire budget, putting you into a financial situation you are not prepared for.
As mentioned earlier, if your car’s repair and maintenance fees are getting too expensive, your car isn’t doing you any favours. Sometimes it is worth it to invest in a new car, especially if your expenses are going up each and every year. A car that warrants such a large part of your budget and constantly threatens to bring your financial plans crashing down has few benefits. It’s better to calculate and save for the cost of a new car, as these are expenses you can at expect and prepare for more easily.
At the end of the day, a lot of drivers rely on their car, so giving the vehicle up is just not an option. However, that doesn’t mean you have to accept the expenses that you’re currently facing. Whether it’s replacing the vehicle, negotiating for better insurance or understanding your fuel usage, there are ways to counter these costs.
Giles Kirkland is a dedicated mechanic with a passion for all things concerning the modern man