Cars are a necessity in most parts of the country, but operating a vehicle does not need to break the bank. While gas prices remain low and interest rates have held steady for several years, other costs of living such as food, education, and rent, are rising, leaving many struggling to pay bills.
With the cost of living rising, and interest rates set to increase, now is a good time to look closer at managing the operating costs of your vehicles.
Understanding the Cost of Vehicle Ownership
A major budget item for most Americans is the cost of transportation: According to the Department of Transportation, the average vehicle owner spends 19% of their paycheck towards vehicle-related costs, which include gas, vehicle maintenance, basic repairs, car payment, and insurance. For those living in the suburbs, the cost rises to an average of 25% of the family’s income. In many cases, you require a car to get to and from work and other basics because of the lack of adequate public transportation.
Top Ways to Save With Smartphone Apps
. A few of the most popular car savings apps include:
Gas Finder Apps are designed to pinpoint your location and provide you with information about where to find the lowest priced gas stations. Two examples of gas saver apps are Gas Buddy and Gas Guru (insert Gas Guru link). Gas Buddy is a free app available for both Apple and Android phones and includes location assistance to find the lowest gas prices as well as a trip cost calculator so you can estimate the costs of upcoming road trips for your budget. Gas Guru, is also free and available on Apple and Android devices, allows you to find prices close to you, or at a destination, you will visit. You can choose the grade of fuel you prefer and the app shows a map of close-by gas stations identifying the best prices.
Route Mapping Apps save you money and time by helping you locate the fastest and most cost-effective routes allowing you to compare different travel options. A route mapping app is designed to take your current location along with the address of your desired destination and provide you with multiple options using major highways or back roads, depending on your wants and needs. You not only spend less time in your vehicle, but save money on gas as well. A few apps providing route mapping services include the app version of MapQuest and AAA’s TripTik. You can access both MapQuest and TripTik as an app or on your computer, depending on your trip planning needs.
Traffic Avoidance Apps focus on getting you to your desired destination without heavy traffic or accident delays. The apps are designed to pinpoint your location and alert you of any upcoming delays on your chosen route. They identify accidents or other heavy traffic situations and provide alternate routes to avoid traffic delays that would otherwise slow you down or increase gas usage. Some of these traffic avoidance apps also have features which record data as you drive as long as you leave the app open. It collects data on driving patterns for future trips. Waze is a top traffic avoidance app and is free to both Apple and Android users.
Using the above apps can increase savings and provide useful services which save time and add convenience to your daily routines.
Save On Insurance
Car insurance costs vary greatly depending on your age, driving record, where you live, and what type of car you drive. While the average cost per year is around $900, young drivers can pay as much as $8,000 per year, and older drivers pay an average of $2,000 per year. Here are a few ways to save on insurance.
Compare rates at each renewal. Some agents work with multiple companies, which can simplify the renewal process. Online calculators are also readily available, although you must type in the information with each company.
Bundle services. Combine home and auto, and purchase insurance for other titled items like motorcycles and motor homes with the same provider to increase savings.
Education. Most insurers offer discounts for driving courses. You can often counter the points you receive from a ticket, through a driving class to keep rates from rising. Students and young drivers also get discounts when they participate in driver’s education courses.
Raise the Deductible. If you have set aside money in a savings, account to cover an accident, you may be able to lower insurance costs by increasing your deductible.
Save on Driving
Drive the Speed Limit. You get better fuel efficiency when you drive slower.
Control Starts and Stops. Fast acceleration and frequent braking are harder on your brakes and engine and waste fuel.
Keep Tires Properly Inflated to get better gas mileage while increasing the life of your tires.
Unload. Keep the truck empty, and do not carry items on the roof of the vehicle. The less weight you add to the car with your personal items, the better gas mileage you will enjoy.
Maintain the Car. Regular oil changes, filter changes, and other maintenance helps the car last longer. A well-maintained car will save you money in the form of car payments, as well as owning a car which will operate more efficiently. The average car payment is $479 per month, according to Edmonds, which adds up to $5,748 per year. If your car lasts two years beyond the payment, you will save over $11,000. Today’s vehicles are designed to last longer, which means you can likely drive your car beyond the average of three to five years, and save thousands of dollars in vehicle costs.
Use Public Transportation whenever possible. It saves wear and tear on your vehicle, parking expenses, and other gas.
Vehicle costs make up the second largest expense in the average family budget, right behind housing. Saving a little on vehicle costs each month can add up to hundreds over the course of the year.