Budgeting & Thrifty

How To Own A Vehicle On A Budget

It’s amazing how the importance of a car really does set in when you have a family. Self-indulgence goes completely out the window more often than not, and it all becomes about practicality and cost efficiency. The latter is particularly important given how expensive cars are to run.

Often in day-to- day life we only factor in fuel (and perhaps insurance) as the main expense once we’ve bought our new set of wheels. Unfortunately, there is a whole lot more to it than that. In fact, you can get a good idea of the true running cost of your car by using this handy personalised calculator. You may not be too pleasantly surprised by the answer it churns out I’m afraid!

The good news, however, is that there are some clever ways to cut costs – and in a way which doesn’t require too much effort either. Here are five which you may not have been aware of until now:

Choose finance wisely

The first step, of course, is buying the car, and it’s important to be savvy with doing so. Obviously you’ll want to find something within budget, but very few of us will be able to pay for it outright. For the sake of convenience, it is tempting to just finance it through the dealer, or typical car finance brokers. However, slightly off the beaten track you’ll tend to find better deals on car loans. Alternative finance is a classic example of this, and could help you save a lot of money in the long run.

Save on insurance

Insurance has gone up by a staggering 14 per cent in the last year, and the average policy is now roughly £670. But there are ways to bring it down. Tweaking your job description is a quick win, as is steering clear of unnecessary add-ons. But the biggest key is switching. Never just renew your policy without doing a comparison, as there is a good chance you’ll be locked into a poor rate. And don’t feel obliged to wait the full year before switching either. Every time you change, you’re almost guaranteed to be making a saving.

MOTs for a steal

You’ll see the signs for ‘£29’ MOTs everywhere, and it does sound cheap. But there are cheaper options, believe it or not. Council MOTs offer even better value, but it isn’t just the headline price that matters. Many mechanics who are less than scrupulous might fail your vehicle on dubious grounds in order to get the business of repairs. This is where the real stinger is in terms of cost. Council MOTs, however, don’t do repairs, and thus aren’t incentivised to fail you.

Make your car fuel efficient

It’s actually pretty easy to make petrol a snip. Just make sure you do the little things right. Keep your tyres inflated, take the heavy clutter out the boot, turn off your aircon when you’re going at lower speeds, avoid high revs, take off any roof racks when they aren’t being used, and, of course, make sure to maximise any loyalty schemes. Furthermore, certain credit cards offer cashback of up to 5 per cent an all fuel spend!

Parking fines

A lot of people don’t know this, but private parking firms have absolutely no right to fine you. So if you ever get an unpleasant surprise when you get back to your car in a private car park, supermarket or housing estate, tear up the paper, and don’t give it a second thought. Obviously it’s different when you get legitimate penalty charge notices. But even then, don’t just lie down and take it. Around 50 per cent of Brits who fight unfair parking fines end up winning! Driving is expensive enough as it is. Make sure you don’t ever end up paying a penny more than you need to.

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post

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