Trying to maintain a balanced budget is a little like trying to maintain your balance on a tightrope. Just when you think you have the hang of it, a gust of wind comes by and leaves you flailing. For most people, transportation costs are some of the most unpredictable and burdensome budgeting factors. However, you are not doomed to a lifetime of hefty car expenses. Here are five changes you can make to your vehicle-related spending that could help you enjoy bigger savings and a more predictable budget.
1. Trade in Your Car
While the actual process of trading in your car is not always simple, the results can dramatically simplify your life and your budget. For example, if you bought a new car this year and have been struggling to make the payments, you can do yourself a huge favor by selling your current vehicle and purchasing a slightly older but gently used model. Car values depreciate so rapidly that you may be paying top dollar for a vehicle that is already worth 20 percent less than when you originally bought it.
On the flip side, perhaps you have been driving an absolute beater for a while and regularly drop hundreds of dollars into making repairs. The wisest course of action, in this case, may actually be to spend a few months saving for a down payment on a more reliable vehicle. In both cases, your end goal is to minimize the sum of your monthly payments plus your monthly maintenance costs.
2. Update Your Car Insurance
Shopping for car insurance is such a hassle that most people are content to stick with whatever policy they already have. However, thinking this way can be a big mistake when it comes to your budget. Circumstances change over time, and you may qualify for discounts today that did not exist four years ago. To learn more about what different companies have to offer, you can use comparison tools like the one on www.carinsurancecheap.net. Tools like this one provide useful information about coverage rates in your area as well as crucial saving tips.
3. Learn Maintenance Basics
Most people lack the time, resources, or desire necessary to perform all their own vehicle maintenance, which is why mechanics shops exist. However, you can save hundreds of dollars if you learn to handle some basic maintenance tasks on your own. For example, instead of paying labor and facility fees for a mechanic to change your tail lights, you can do the same job on your own for a few dollars. There are millions of car maintenance tutorial videos available online, so you can teach yourself some useful new tricks for free.
4. Walk or Bike
Cars are obviously meant to be driven, but excessive use is one of the major contributors to breakdowns. You can prolong the life of the car and reduce the frequency of breakdowns by walking or biking to your destinations whenever you can. While it might seem easier to drive two minutes to the post office, walking there instead will give you the exercise you need and your car the rest it deserves. Walking and biking more will also help you cut back on your gas expenditures, enabling you to allocate that money to different areas of your budget.
5. Use Public Transportation
Of course, you probably do not live within walking or biking distance of all your regular destinations. If this is the case, then consider using public transportation when possible. Once again, you will save money on gas and avoid putting excessive wear on your car. Public transportation also gives you the opportunity to walk a few extra steps and avoid the hassle of finding and paying for parking in busy areas. If you need more convincing, try using a fuel savings calculator like this one to see exactly how much you can save with public transportation.
Simplify and Save
No one wants to waste money, but it happens all too easily. While cars tend to be a particularly significant source of costs, there are multiple ways to modify your spending habits in this area. Whether you adopt all five of these methods or stick with just one, they can help you enjoy more room in your monthly budget and more simplicity in your daily life.