How to keep kids from destroying your car

This is the final post in a three-part series on how to save big money on vehicles. If you haven’t already, read parts one and two. Also, don’t forget to enter to win the Ultimate Car Care Kit from HomeRight®, running in conjunction with this series. Enter by clicking here or on the photo below. 

Autoright-Car-Car-Kit

You’re probably aware by now that our family drives cars until the wheels fall off, which has saved us tens of thousands of dollars over the years and allowed us to have zero car payments!

I gotta tell you, though, with all the effort we put into making our cars go the distance, nothing will add wear and tear like these two little rascals:

carcleaning

Thanks to them (I’ve gotta blame someone, right?), my car often looks like the inside of a giant purse – used napkins, fast food restaurant toys, loose change, sports paraphernalia, crumbs, an occasional pair of underwear (no joke).

So today I thought I’d wrap up my auto-saving series by sharing five tips for how we can keep the kids from destroying our vehicles.

1. Keep it locked.

This may seem obvious and most of you probably already lock your car when you’re not in it. But this didn’t become a habit for me until recently. I used to leave my car unlocked in the driveway for convenience sake. Then my 2-year old decided it was his personal playground and would literally open the door himself, hop in and proceed to empty the glove box, tissue box, etc. Not only was this a horribly messy situation, it was also extremely dangerous. So, especially if you have young kids or grand kids, keep your doors locked and make a rule that playing in and around vehicles is not allowed.

2. Have them help clean and maintain it.

After we get home from a trip, I try to make an announcement for everyone to pick up all the stuff that needs to go inside as we exit the car. No one leaves the car empty-handed. I’m still working on consistency with this, but it is definitely helping the kids think about the fact that our car is not their personal wastebasket or storage closet.

Also, consider having the kids help vacuum or wash the car when it needs a good detail job. Fortunately, I’ve got kids at ages where they’ll do this somewhat willingly. I’ll have to get creative as they get older. 😉 #choresformoney

AutorRight-Easy-Wash-Stick AutoRight-Auto-Wash-Stick

3. Choose leather upholstery.

Oh, the sweet, sweet wipe-ability. Need I say more? Of course, I realize many of you have cloth interiors and, since I don’t want you running out and getting a new car, 😉 below are a few tips for cleaning out tough stains from cloth upholstery. (These tricks work on carpets, too.)

  • Fast-food grease – Greasy stains can be removed from both carpet and upholstery by using paint thinner and covering the stain with salt. Make sure the paint thinner you choose passes a colorfastness test by first applying it on a hidden area. Once the greasy stain is absorbed, vacuum the stain to remove it. Or put cornmeal on the stain and let it sit overnight, then vacuum. I’m also a huge fan of the AutoRight Multi-Purpose Steam Machine* to remove tough dirt and grime. Enter to win one here.
  • Ink stains – Hairspray can remove all types of ink stains from carpet and upholstery.
  • Carsick stains – Try club soda mixed with baking soda and water.
  • Blood stains – Blood should always be treated with cold water. Mix the cold water with dry laundry detergent to make a paste, then apply to the stain. Once it’s dry, brush the debris away and vacuum.
  • Frayed carpet – Buy some liquid resin at a craft store and apply to the frayed edges and trim. This should keep the edges from excessive fraying.

If you’re sick of scrubbing cloth upholstery, you could also consider purchasing washable seat covers.

4. Prevent food and drink accidents.

Consider only allowing “safe” foods inside the car when possible. Ideally, that list would include foods that are easy to pick up or vacuum, like dry cereals, trail mixes, animal crackers and dried fruits. I’ve been guilty of giving my littles pudding in the car. Never again. Shudder. #rookieparentmistake 

5. Apply the Law of Domestic Input to your car.

I explain this law in more detail in my e-book, “Organized for Real: How to Conquer Life’s Top 5 Chaos Hotspots.” Here’s a brief summary.

The Law of Domestic Input states that for every chore that is either completed or avoided, there is an equal and similar chore completed or avoided. So if we leave gum wrappers, soda cups, etc. in the car, our kids will think nothing of adding to the mess with their own junk.

Whenever we confront a mess, we typically don’t feel bad about adding to it. On the contrary, when most normal people encounter order, cleanliness and beauty, we have a tendency to feel a twinge of guilt about crapping it up. Hence the clean, organized vehicles (and homes) seem to stay organized, while the clutter keeps piling up in the chaotic ones. So if we make the effort to keep it clean, it gradually becomes easier to keep it clean.

To find out more about the Law of Domestic Input and other practical cleaning and organizing tips, snatch a copy of my e-book here.

I hope this series on how to save money on vehicles was helpful in some way. Do you have any tips I may have missed? Please share in a comment.

* Affiliate links are provided in this post for your convenience. 

How to save big money on vehicles (plus a huge giveaway from HomeRight)

(This is the first in a three-part series on how to save a TON of money on vehicles. Special thanks to HomeRight® for sponsoring this post and the amazing giveaway.)

Did you know that, statistically, we spend more on vehicles in our lifetime than we do on our homes? When I first heard this, I was floored. And then I got determined. I didn’t want the stuff in our driveway to suck our family dry of potential wealth or keep us from opportunities because we’re “car broke.”

So a few years ago, my husband and I committed to paying off our vehicles and only purchasing future ones with cash. We did it as part of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step plan. It’s one of the best financial decisions we’ve made.

Suffice to say, I’m uber-passionate about debt-free living. And while you may not be there quite yet, there are some steps you can take today that will help you save big money on your vehicles, move you away from paycheck-to-paycheck living, and start you down the path of true financial freedom.

According to a recent Kiplinger article, the single most reliable way to save money on cars is to:

Keep your clunker and drive it until it drops.

A vehicle that’s decently cared-for should still be running long after the odometer has clocked 100,000 miles. (My 2005 model is at around 125,000 miles and going strong.) Keep driving it and you save money, not only because you don’t have to make payments on a new car, but also because insurance premiums are lower, and in some states, so are registration fees and personal-property taxes.

So then, if we’re committed to keeping the car we’ve got, the next step is to fall in love with her (again). I’ve got three strategies to help us do this.

1. Detail it like a pro.

I’m not talking about driving it through an over-priced (and under-thorough) car wash. I mean really clean it. I did this to my vehicle using some amazing tools from AutoRight™. (Spoiler alert: Giveaway at the end of this post.) 

AutoRight-supplies

I started with the outside, so I could gain some courage and momentum. (The interior was incredibly scary and daunting, people.) 

I put the littles to work helping me. They took turns using the AutoRight Auto-Wash Stick* and Easy-Wash Stick. You can suck up the soap/water right into the stick handles and push to release it onto the vehicle. I’ve found it to be a real time saver.

AutoRight-Auto-Wash-Stick

AutorRight-Easy-Wash-Stick

After a good scrub and rinse, I went to work on some mystery scratches (seriously, where do they come from?) using the AutoRight 4-inch Cordless Detailing Polisher.

Vehicle-scratches

I applied a scratch and swirl remover, then followed up with a coat of wax.

AutoRight-polisher

This machine works magic on scuff marks and small scratches and I love that it’s cordless. I figure deep scratches are pretty much a lost cause, but it did fade them slightly.

Then came the interior work. Whew! Hours, people … hours. This is what I started with:

Dirty-car

Fortunately, I got to try out the AutoRight Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner, which made the process almost fun. Almost.

AutoRight-Steam-Machine

This sucker easily tackles those sticky window fingerprints, funky floor mats and the ground-in mystery grime.

AutoRight-Multi-Purpose-Steam-Cleaner

This is what my vehicle looks like now:

Clean-Nissan-Armada-interior

Clean-Nissan

It’s a rare and proud sight to behold and I’ll cherish it for the 10 minutes it looks like this. #blamethekids

In addition to giving your car a thorough detail job, consider the following tips to help you love the car you’re with.

2. Give up on keeping up with the Jones’.

Nothing gives me the craving to trade in my current car quite like smelling the fresh leather of a friend’s new ride. And even though I’m quite familiar with the commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house” (or car or anything else), seeing others with a beautiful new vehicle really gets my brain cooking on what’s wrong with my “old” ride.

In these situations, I’ll take a few minutes to calculate exactly what the same new car would cost me over a lifetime of ownership. I include what it would cost me in lost opportunities, lost savings and lost financial goal achievement.

This usually makes that covetous feeling subside very quickly.

3. Keep your vehicle(s) well-maintained. 

In an article on “How to extend the life of your car,” Augie Barone, Service Manager at Pat’s Garage in San Francisco, credits regular maintenance as one of the most important ways to add years to your car’s life.

“The customers who have the most miles on their car are the ones who are consistent with their service schedule,” he says. “They get a hold of issues before they get out of hand. It helps a lot to maintain the car’s longevity. You can’t just wait for the service light to come on.”

Keeping your vehicle’s fluids new and clean is priority No. 1 when it comes to making sure your car hangs around for a long while. Frequent oil changes can prevent the buildup of harmful deposits that rob fuel economy and power, as well as make internal components work harder. A harder-working engine is one with a shorter life span.

So in summary, taking care of our vehicles – inside and out – and resisting that urge to keep up with the Jones’ will save us tens of thousands of dollars in automobile costs. Of course, sometimes, it’s simply time for our ride to give up the ghost … Stay tuned for the next article in this series, “How to save big money when buying a vehicle.”

In the meantime, be sure to enter below to win the ULTIMATE CAR CARE PACKAGE of amazing AutoRight goodies to help you fall in love (again) with your current ride.

Autoright-Car-Car-Kit

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Affiliate links provided in this post for your convenience. 

Disclaimer: I’m thrilled to be a brand ambassador for HomeRight and, as always, all thoughts, opinions and projects are my own.