How Frugal Can You Be About Owning a Car?

I don't own a car, but I know that for some people, having one is a necessity. Here's some tips from a reader on how to be frugal with your car.

Living a life of frugality comes with many fantastic financial benefits, but there are a couple of things in life that many people don’t naturally associate with frugality. For example, car ownership is seen as somewhat of a luxury especially when the frugal travel option is typically riding a bicycle or even walking. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there that absolutely need access to a vehicle because it makes their life a lot easier. Thankfully, there are ways to still own a car and continue being frugal, and in this article, we’re going to offer you some fantastic advice on how you can do just that.

Only drive when it’s absolutely necessary

Once we own a car, we’ll start to use it for smaller things such as grocery shopping, going out for entertainment or even volunteer to drive friends and family around. This is just an unfortunate side of car ownership and because it’s such a convenient method of getting around, we often forget about the costs of things like fuel and parking. Because of these additional expenses, car ownership can quickly turn from frugal to expensive and it’s all because of those small costs that we don’t really think about.

If you’re going to be frugal with your car then you need to learn to say no to friends and family that need a ride and stop using your car for small things. Learn to rely on your bike or walk more often if the destination isn’t very far, and consider using more public transportation if it works out to be cheaper and more convenient than driving. While it might seem “unlike you” to turn down a friend or family member that needs a ride, you have to stand up for yourself and let them know that you can’t just drive them around because it’s both expensive and time-consuming for you.

Be careful about how you purchase your car

The ideal way to obtain a car would be to receive a hand-me-down from a family member or get a fantastic used car deal from someone you know. However, if these aren’t viable options then the alternative is to purchase a used car–at least, this is what most people think. The reality of purchasing a car is that no matter what type of car you buy, it’s the associated costs that will really dig into your budget and not the actual cost of the vehicle.

For instance, while buying a used car is typically a lot lower in price, you might not get 0% financing deals that are very common with purchasing a new car. In addition, an old car might cause you to pay more for car insurance because it’s a much older vehicle with fewer safety and security features. The older the car is, the more you might expect to pay in insurance. We also need to consider the costs of parts and repairs should the vehicle be damaged. A newer vehicle likely has more readily-available parts and mechanics that are willing to perform a quick repair on it. However, for older vehicles (especially vintage ones that are no longer in production) you can expect to pay a lot more money for basic repairs that would otherwise be a lot cheaper on a modern vehicle.

As a result, you should be very careful when purchasing a car and realize that purchasing a used one isn’t always the solution for being frugal. Sure, that thousand-dollar car that you see someone selling on Craigslist might be tempting, but with the insurance costs and maintenance fees in mind, you’re ultimately not getting a good deal and will typically spend more money than you think. Just remember that being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap; it’s all about making value-oriented purchases and understanding how to stretch every dollar you spend.
Take more time to pick your vehicle

Another big consideration to help you be more frugal with car ownership is to pick your car wisely. There are plenty of factors that could make car ownership more frugal, such as the mileage you can get, the types of fuel it uses and also the safety measures it has built into the car. There are plenty of cars that offer fantastic mileage but are far too expensive to insure for one reason or another, and there are cars that may seem expensive to initially purchase but can offer fantastic savings due to its fuel economy and added features that will reduce the chances of ending up in an accident.

Give yourself more time to pick a vehicle by taking the decision more seriously. We’ve already mentioned that purchasing a second-hand car can often be a bad financial decision, but you should also take into consideration the features and accessories that you might need in order to make your car a frugal investment. Many people also fall into the trap of buying a luxury car to boost their self-esteem or because they believe it to be a worthwhile investment, but the reality is that there are very few luxury vehicles in the world that are worth their price tag.

So in short; be smarter about the car you purchase. Do plenty of research on each car that you have in mind and focus on things such as lower insurance premiums, better fuel efficiency and safety features that could make it easier and safer to drive.

Safe driving can help reduce costs

Whether it’s installing safety and security measures in your car or learning more about defensive driving, there are many advantages of safe driving and they can help to drastically reduce your vehicle costs assuming you stick to those rules. Safe driving can also help you lower your car insurance premiums if you show that you’ve never been in an accident and have never been pulled over or reported for reckless driving.

Accidents and damages to your car will not only cost a lot of money to cover up and fix, but the other costs involved such as hiring a lawyer or losing time because you can’t get to work can also add up and cause your car ownership to be less of a frugal investment than you think. In short, always be careful when it comes to driving and learn safer driving practices so that there’s less chance of you ending up in an accident or situation that causes you to waste money.

Learn more about your car

Lastly, we have to recommend that you take the time to learn more about your vehicle. While it can seem like a hefty time investment to learn about your car, you need to keep in mind that a lot of repairs that a mechanic carries out can be done at home if you have the knowledge. This can end up saving you a lot of money if you learn to do your own car repairs. While this can seem like a daunting task, it’s something that you will generally get more comfortable with as you perform small repairs. It’s not the most complicated thing in the world as long as you grasp the fundamentals of how your car works and how the parts work together.

Alternatively, you can get to know your mechanic or ask a friend that has experience with cars for advice on how to take better care of your vehicle and how you can perform manual repairs in your own time to keep your vehicle running efficiently and without issues.

What do you do to keep your car ownership frugal?

See my disclaimer.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


Thank you for leaving a comment on your blog. Comments are moderated- please be patient to allow time for them to go through. Opposing opinions are permitted, discussion and disagreements are encouraged, but nasty comments for the sole purpose of being nasty without constructive criticisms will be deleted.
Just a note- I take my privacy seriously, and comments giving away my location or religion are automatically deleted too.

  1. We have owned older (15+ years) cars for a long time. Our experience with insurance is that we actually spend much LESS for them than for newer cars. Maybe it's different here in the USA? I must say though that it wouldn't save us too much money to own older cars if I didn't enjoy fixing them.

Previous Post Next Post