If you have a car, you know the freedom that owning one offers. You don’t have to plan your trips around a friend’s schedule, or find yourself leaving an event early because the driver wants to go home. As the driver, you decide when you leave. Owning a car can also help your career since it lets you take jobs that you couldn’t consider if you had to rely on public transportation.
But owning a car takes cash. Even if you don’t have a loan to worry about, you still pay for gasoline, insurance, and repairs when something goes wrong. From a few dollars to replace a broken tail light to thousands to replace a bad transmission, repairs can add up quick.
As a car owner, however, you can take steps to plan for these expenses in advance, and to limit costs by fixing problems before they get pricey.
Maintenance Manages Expenses
Regular maintenance and checkups can not only extend the life of your vehicle, but knowing the state your car is in will also allow you to start saving money for larger repairs so you have the cash when you need it.
Check Your Tires
Your car’s tires are in constant contact with the road. Every pot hole, ice patch, or sudden brake can cause wear and tear. Replacing your tires can cost you hundreds of dollars, but getting by with a flat isn’t an option. When your tires need to be replaced, you need to take care of it, or stop driving until you do.
Extend the life of your tires by checking the air pressure regularly. Tires that are under or overfilled will wear unevenly, which can force you to replace them earlier than expected. Rotating your tires can also extend their life, since it helps even out the wear and tear they experience.
Pop the Hood
Checking the level of your oil, power-steering fluid, or antifreeze regularly can help you avoid costly repairs down the road. Repairing a leaky pipe is far less expensive than trying to fix an engine that ran out of motor oil.
Oil changes, inspections, and other regular maintenance can feel time consuming and overly expensive, but they also can save you money. Cars are complicated, powerful machines made up of thousands of parts. Regular maintenance will keep your vehicle running well, and find minor problems before they become more expensive.
Have an Emergency Fund
Of course, even with careful planning, you can never completely predict when you’ll need money to pay for a repair. With monitoring, you can plan for most costs, but a stray pothole could force you to pay for new tires sooner than expected.
Setting cash aside each month in an emergency fund can make the unexpected a little easier to manage. If you don’t have savings built into your budget, it’s never too late to start. Even if you don’t have enough saved to cover all of the repairs, every dollar you put away is a dollar less you need to borrow.
What to Do When You’re Ready To Upgrade
Even if you love your car, eventually you’ll want to trade it in for something new. If you have a structured settlement or annuity, contact us today to learn about how you can sell some or all of your future payments for a lump sum of cash you can use to buy a new vehicle without going into debt.
Peachtree Financial does not offer legal, tax, or financial advice. Please contact independent professionals for those services.