Category Archives: Autos

How to Save Money on Car Repairs

How to Save Money on Car RepairsEveryone has car problems now and then, or maybe they just need to schedule maintenance on their vehicles. But we can all agree that care repairs are not cheap. In fact, they can be painful when unexpected. However, the following guidelines may help to save money the next time you need an oil change or tune-up.

Swap Services

If you are cash-strapped with little to spend on car services, and you know a great independent car mechanic who loves home-baked apple pie, offer to make a couple in exchange for rotating your tires. Some people swap services like housecleaning, pet grooming, and lawn care for car maintenance or repair so neither person has to pay cash.

Do it Yourself

Some vehicle services are not difficult to learn. The local college or vocational school may offer a basic auto maintenance class you can take to care for your car’s routine maintenance. You can also browse the numerous online how-to videos that show and tell you how to do things like replace a headlight, flush the steering wheel fluid, and check your brakes if you are mechanically inclined.

Clip Coupons

Many leading car shops and auto dealers offer regular coupons by mail or on their websites. Coupons may offer a complimentary first oil change to try their service as an introductory offer. A coupon of five oil changes may be sold for the price of three when you buy them together. Check regular community mailings and the local online or print newspaper for coupons or discounts.

Drive a Bargain

If you need a service performed and you can’t find a coupon for the car shop that you want to do the work, ask if a discount is available. Chances are they will give you a discount of ten to fifteen percent overall or on service, if not the products. Many auto shops are competitive and will give a discount if requested. You can also ask about low-interest or zero-interest financing on pricier services, as well as having only the most necessary work done at present, delaying secondary work until you have more money. Everything is negotiable, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Shop Around

It’s easy to get attached to a favorite oil change shop or auto repair business because it’s familiar or convenient. But to save money, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare pricing, which you can do online or by phone. You can also compare websites and check the local Better Business Bureau to see if shops you are considering have a low or poor rating. Ask friends or coworkers who drive well-maintained vehicles where they have work done, and then contact the business to see if a referral discount is available.

Needing a brake job or a radiator flush is not something to look forward to. But it can be managed financially with creative thinking and planning. Start setting aside a monthly amount toward car repairs and maintenance if you are not already doing so. Even twenty-five dollars per month will come in handy the next time you need a repair or service for your vehicle.

How To Live In Your Car Without Anyone Noticing

How To Live In Your Car Without Anyone NoticingSo you just got canned, sending your financial situation into a tailspin. Next month’s rent is looming, your fridge is essentially empty, and you promised to take out a lady friend this Friday — what do you do? Tap into your savings? Sell off your valuable goods? Get a loan? Those may seem like quick ways to get instant cash, but do they benefit you in the long run?

Well, don’t fear, for there is one often-overlooked option to keep you afloat during your personal financial crisis: living rent-free in your car.

I know, I know, you’re used to the modern luxuries of 2016, but I’m here to convince you that temporarily giving up a few those comforts and living in your vehicle can go a long way in terms of getting your finances in order — and the good news is you can do it without anyone you know noticing. Here’s some helpful information on how to get by until a new job rolls around:

Get a Gym Membership

This first step is essential — the hardest part about living in your car is the obvious lack of restroom facilities. Getting a gym membership, preferably one that is open 24/7, is a great way around this problem as it gives you access to both a toilet and a shower for a low, monthly reasonable price. This way, you can keep up with your personal hygiene routines and skip out on looking like a hobo to your friends, family, and potential new employers. And hey — you also get an air conditioned place to work out in as well!

Cost: $30-$50 a month at gyms, $10-$20 a month or possibly free at college campuses

Make sure your car can generate the electricity you need.

Let’s face it, in today’s world, we’re all plugged in all the time, and there’s no need to change that. Using the combination of a good cigarette lighter converter and a portable solar battery, you’ll have the tools to charge nearly anything: your smartphone, laptop, or iPad. They can even be used to power small, 12V cooking appliances, such as a portable skillet or water heater. Just make sure to balance out your electricity consumption with charging your vehicle’s battery with its alternator.

Cost: $20-$40 for cigarette lighter converter, $70-$100 for portable mini solar panel, $30-$40 for skillet

Keep your car optimized for living in it

A truth about living your car is that you’re going to be in a much smaller space than you’re accustomed to. While living in a windowless, spacious van is ideal, most people won’t have one of those and will have to settle for their four-door sedan. The best way for living in one of these is to come prepared and organize your belongings — designate a sleeping area and make it comfortable, buy yourself a small cooler to keep drinks in, stock up on dry foods, use your trunk as a closet, make sure to find a few discreet parking spots you can stay in overnight, keep relevant documents on hand, have a first aid kit, and invest in a good flashlight.

Cost: $30 for mini Coleman drink cooler, $30-60 for flashlight, $20-$25 a week for gas, food varies greatly depending on appetite

Don’t forget about your mail

This may seem obvious, but living in a car might make you forget that you’re a member of society that receives tons of junk mail and a few bills monthly The best way to get your mail without an address is renting a post office box. Remember, you have to do this before taking the start living in your car because you must provide the post office with an actual address. If you’re unable to take out a PO Box, see if a friend will let you use their home address as your new one.

Cost: $8-$12 a month for PO Box

10 Ways Your Car Is Draining Your Money

Let’s face it. Cars are expensive! Between the initial costs of buying a car, putting gas in the tank, paying for insurance and making sure it’s maintained, owning a car can be one of the most expensive things in your budget.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be so costly. Many of the things you’ve been taught to do for your car are less for your vehicle’s health and more to help retailers drain your wallet. We’ve collected the top 10 ways your car is draining your money so you can avoid some of these rather pointless monetary wastes in the future:

  1. Premium Gasoline

It might be tempting to shell out for the most expensive gasoline available. We get it — you love your car and want the best for it, but premium gasoline is not the way to go unless using a lesser octane is causing your engine to knock. Trust your owner’s manual on this one: If it doesn’t specifically recommend high octane gas, you’re just throwing your money away.

  1. Dealer Repairs

If you’ve got a warranty that already covers all of your repair costs, then disregard this one. For the rest of us, though, going to the dealer for repairs or routine maintenance is a huge waste of money. Independent shops, at least those that employ ASE certified mechanics, do the job as well or better than the dealership without the excessive cost.

  1. Oil Changes – Part 1

This tends to be a two-fold problem. One, you’re probably changing your oil too often. Many manufacturers’ recommend waiting until you’ve reached 5,000 miles or in some cases even longer to change your oil. The 3 months/3,000 miles rule is a marketing ploy at this point.

  1. Oil Changes – Part 2

The second problem most people run into with oil changes is spending too much on the service. This may be because you’re going to the dealer (as mentioned in #9) or because you’re not doing it yourself. If you’re handy with a wrench, changing your oil yourself can save you a ton of money in the long run. Otherwise, look for sales at your local shops and get it done then!

  1. Check Engine Lights

We’ve all done it — ignored a check engine light or even put a little piece of electrical tape over the dash so we didn’t have to look at it anymore. That can be a costly mistake because small issues that may trigger the check engine light can become worse if ignored. Many parts stores, like AutoZone or Advance, offer free code reading, so you’ve got nothing to lose!

  1. Neglecting Your Filters

We all know to change the oil and air filters, but when was the last time you changed your fuel filter? A clogged fuel filter can become an expensive repair and compromise your car’s fuel efficiency.

  1. Underinflated Tires

Walking around the car to check the air pressure in each tire can be a pain, but it’s a great way to save money in the long run. Improperly inflated tires affect fuel efficiency, wear out quickly (often requiring costly replacements) and can even blow out if not correctly maintained.

  1. Idling Your Car

Sometimes idling is unavoidable — at a stop light, in slow-moving traffic or when trying to warm up your car in freezing temperatures. However, restarting your engine uses less gas than idling your car for 10 seconds. When you can, don’t idle.

  1. Flushing Coolant

Yes, you do periodically need to flush out your cooling system, but it’s not nearly as often as you think. Most new coolant only needs to be changed every 5 years or 50,000 miles, but that may vary because of your car’s make, model or year.

  1. Expensive Extras

Sure, that onboard navigation or movie system might be tempting, but you probably have a smart phone or tablet computer that does all of that and more for a fraction of the price.

Onboard navigation can cost thousands of dollars. You can buy a Garmin or other dashboard GPS for less than $200, or simply use your phone to navigate. Think about that the next time a car salesman talks about all the benefits of onboard navigation!

While things like coolant and oil changes are necessities, there’s no reason you should have to break the bank to keep your car on the road.

Anum Yoon is the founder and editor of Current On Currency. You can catch her on Twitter to read her updates.