Category Archives: Autos

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.

If You Don’t Drive Much, Save On Car Insurance

If You Don't Drive Much, Save On Car Insurance With This TrickI worked for GEICO for a few years after college, so I picked up some tricks that can help save money on car insurance (link!). But last week, I found a new trick I was previously unaware of and wanted to share with everyone.

Pay Per Mile Car Insurance

I recently found out about a new car insurance company called Metromile. With them, you pay a lower flat monthly rate compared to traditional insurance companies, plus a few cents per mile driven each month. So if you only drive a few miles per day, you can end up saving a lot of money by switching to Metromile. The less you drive, the more you save!

After some conservative calculations, it looked like we’d be able to drop our premium by around $125 every 6 months. That’s a pretty big savings just for switching car insurance companies, so I was prepared to pull the trigger. It would just mean signing up online and canceling my GEICO policy, which at most would take 15 minutes. Save $250 a year for 15 minutes of work once? Sign me up.

Check With Your Current Auto Insurance Company

I called GEICO (our existing auto insurance company) to see if they could match in some way. I switched jobs about a year ago and Lauren cut her commute significantly since graduating from her master’s program. I asked if driving less would qualify us for any additional discounts, and the customer service rep said she could plug in the details and see what that would do to our rate.

We updated our details to go from about 1,500 miles a month down to around just 500 total. With that, our rate dropped by over $100! So in a 5 minute call, we saved $200 per year. Bingo! The difference between GEICO and Metromile wasn’t enough to convince us to switch to a smaller insurer, so we kept our existing insurance, we’ll just be paying a lower rate going forward.

Metromile is a great idea for people who don’t drive much, but if you don’t drive much and are considering a switch to save money, contact your current insurer to see if your rate can be reduced if they have your updated driving data.

As always, it never hurts to ask. By doing some research and making a simple call, the savings can be significant.