(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.)
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.
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.
I applied a scratch and swirl remover, then followed up with a coat of wax.
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:
Fortunately, I got to try out the AutoRight Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner, which made the process almost fun. Almost.
This sucker easily tackles those sticky window fingerprints, funky floor mats and the ground-in mystery grime.
This is what my vehicle looks like now:
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.
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.