The cost of car ownership can be daunting for many people. The new vehicle, insurance premiums, licensing and registration fees, fuel costs - it all adds up. It doesn't have to be this way, though! Here are five tips that will help you reduce the cost of owning a car:
Shop around for the cheapest car insurance.
Many people don't realize it, but they can save up to 50% on their auto premiums simply by changing their level of coverage or switching companies. It's well worth your time to shop around and compare prices before renewing your policy with your current provider! The savings could be significant - possibly hundreds of dollars per year.
If you are unable to find a lower price, consider dropping comprehensive and collision coverage from your policy if the replacement value of your car is lower than the cost for these options. You can also save money by choosing an older vehicle with less expensive parts and repair bills when it needs work done!
Get a valid driving license.
The fine for driving with an expired license varies from state to state but tends to be expensive regardless of location. In the worst case, you could have your license suspended or even put in jail if the police catch you.
If you've been living in the US for an extended period of time and feel confident enough behind the wheel to apply for a license without further lessons, consider doing so! It will save money not having to pay for driving classes every year. Also, the cost of the test itself is usually cheaper than the classes you have to take before being allowed to attempt it.
If your foreign license has expired or you don't have a valid driving license at all, as many international students do not, look into the process for getting one now! You'll be able to save money on insurance, the cost of the fine for driving with an expired license, and the price of the classes themselves by having a valid US license.
Buy a used car.
A new vehicle depreciates when you drive it off the lot, while an older car will hold its value over time if well maintained. This means that buying a newer (but not brand-new) model can be advantageous since you'll get more bang for your buck when selling or trading the car in the future.
If you can't afford to buy new, consider purchasing a late-model used vehicle that's only one or two years old; the price won't be much more than if it were five or ten years old, but the difference will show when it comes time to resell the car. You'll get more money for the vehicle, and the buyer will be getting a reliable car that's still in good condition.
Also, remember to do your research when buying used - make sure the price is fair for the year/miles on the car before agreeing to purchase! Look for reviews from owners who have chronicled their experiences with the model you're interested in online; the more information you can find, the better.
Find the best gas station to fill up.
If you drive a lot, the price of your fuel will be one of the highest operating costs for your car during the year! This is why it's important to note where the lowest prices are found in your area and only refuel at those stations. You can enter this information into a GPS unit or the car's onboard navigation system to ensure you're getting the best deal for your money.
This is one of the most important things that people frequently forget about when trying to save money on gas - but the savings are dramatic if you do it! It only takes a few minutes to identify the stations in your area with the lowest prices, so there's no reason not to do the work today.
Stations in the same area often have very different prices depending on the cost of the products they buy from suppliers and their operating expenses, including the number of employees needed for operation. Aim to fill up at the cheapest station whenever possible; you'll be surprised how much money you'll save in the long run.
Buy a car insurance policy with high deductibles.
Having an accident is one of the worst things that can happen to any driver, but it happens every day, especially in states like California and Florida. If you have an accident and don't have enough money saved up for repairs or if your vehicle isn't worth much at all, it's a good idea to have high deductibles on your insurance policy.
This will lower the price of your monthly premiums and is worth having in place if you're going through a rough patch financially or don't drive that often. Being able to access funds for covering repairs from an accident can be invaluable when something happens - even more so if you don't have personal savings account set up to cover such an incident.