Hey Taylor: Between insurance, my lease and gas, my car is costing me over $1,000 a month. How can I get this number lower? I’m feeling pretty helpless right now. — Steve
Hey Steve: I completely empathize. Our cars are so vital to our daily lives, and there’s nothing cheap about owning and maintaining a vehicle. Let’s see if I can help you chip away at that monthly bill.
1. Inquire about insurance costs. Different plans will save you in different ways. You don’t want to go with a super low premium because that could leave you in a bad way when it comes time to use your deductible, but you might be able to adjust your plan to better meet your needs and save you a little money.
Sometimes coverage includes benefits you don’t really need and a quick call to your agent will save you $50 bucks a month or so. If you’ve had the same policy through the same agent for a long time, get on the phone and see what they might be willing to offer or even take a few minutes and shop around your policy to different carriers.
2. Don’t drive when you don’t have to. You’re probably looking at insurance and the lease as the numbers you most want to drive down, but if you put some effort into it, I bet you can lower your gas spending significantly.
I’ve got a post on GoFarWithKovar.com about easy ways to save for vacations and I note changing your driving habits as one of the best ways to put more money in your bank account.
I’m sure you have to go to and from work every day, but how about those quick drives to the store when you could easily walk, or the days you drive to lunch instead of eating at the office? Cars give us a great convenience that we’re all too happy to take advantage of, but you have to remember that travel comes at a price.
3. Think about getting a different car. It seems like a lot of work, but trading in an expensive car for a cheaper model will help with all your problems.
You might be resistant because you don’t want money issues to keep you out of your dream car, but believe me — it feels a lot better sitting behind the wheel of an awesome car when you can rightly afford to do so. Look at certified pre-owned vehicles or see if anyone you know and trust might be looking to sell a good car.
If a lease is making it hard to get by every month, you probably need to ditch the lease.
You might have to shake things up more than you want, but there’s a way to save money and keep on driving. Keep your long-term goals in mind, make the savvy choice and everything will work out. Good luck, Steve.