As a mom, managing a consistently active schedule is part of the job. Between juggling after-school activities, personal hobbies, and family engagements, mothers understand the value of a reliable working vehicle.
Cars serve many functions for busy parents, like acting as a storage unit for stain removers, fresh clothes, snacks, and other on-the-go essentials. As any mom knows, kids are relentless bundles of energy. Fortunately, a working vehicle takes your rambunctious little ones where they need to go to blow off steam, whether that’s weekly soccer practice or an overdue playdate with a friend from school.
Traveling freely also affords moms the freedom to take some much-needed me-time. Sometimes, an hour spent alone listening to your car radio is an essential step in recovering from a toddler’s temper tantrum.
Sadly, the financial burdens can often outnumber the convenience perks of a working vehicle. Should you decide to shrug off monthly oil changes or neglect routine maintenance (i.e., tire changes), these automobiles (and part-time mom sanctuaries) can become a significant source of financial strain.
Forget purchasing a flashy new model. The thought of replacing parts and acquiring yearly maintenance is enough to make any mother reach for another glass of wine. While these expenses are inevitable, they don’t have to break the bank. Consider these seven tips for bargain-hungry moms looking to maintain a working vehicle affordably.
Opt for used car parts when necessary
Purchasing second-hand parts is a budget-friendly way to fix up your car without sacrificing quality and appearance. By scouring massive online shops or salvage yards, you can find almost any part that’s compatible with your vehicle.
Vehicle owners can easily swap brand-new non-mechanical components like bumpers, stereos, and headlights with refurbished alternatives. However, there are some parts you should only purchase new. For example, purchasing batteries, air filters, and spark plugs from an auto-parts store is your best bet. Used engines can pose their fair share of risks. That said, you’ll need to evaluate whether the company selling the used engine is reliable, calculate the engine mileage, and investigate the warranty coverage before committing to a used engine.
Perform mom-friendly maintenance
Taking time out of a packed schedule to bring your car to an overpriced auto shop just isn’t realistic for most moms. Although, having the knowledge and ability to complete small-scale yet crucial maintenance tasks like changing fuses, topping off the oil, and filling tires with air will ensure your car stays in tip-top shape.
Buy smarter gas
For almost every car on the market, regular octane fuel works perfectly. Unless you’re zipping your kids around in a showy sports car, you can skip the premium gas. Even low-grade fuel is substantial enough to keep your car’s sensors and motors running efficiently. It’s also helpful to track down the cheapest gas in your area. Some gas stations have exponentially higher fuel rates than an identical one just down the block.
Rotate your tires annually
Getting your tires regularly rotated and balanced will add years to their lifespan. Most mechanics will perform this task free of charge when paired with an oil change, and the long-term savings are certainly worth it.
Get your hands dirty
Keeping your vehicle looking clean and sparkly doesn’t have to mean a trip to the carwash. Skip the machine-generated outlets by investing in some quality wash and wax. Washing your own car is quick, easy, and rewarding—get your kids involved for a fun family activity!
As you shop for coverage, make sure you’re taking advantage of every discount possible. Talk with an agent about balancing coverage by raising your deductible on collision insurance. With this strategy in your back pocket, you can save hundreds of dollars each year.
Note that many providers offer certain safety features or hybrid model discounts. Single mothers are also eligible for specific deductions, depending on the insurance company in question.
Start a carpool
Not only does carpooling give you a long-awaited break from driving the kids to school, but it also cuts your fuel costs by large margins. Sharing your daily travel with just one other family can save you up to $200 a year in gasoline. Not to mention, your kids will thank you for the opportunity to make new friends and chat with their classmates after a tiring day of dodgeball and multiplication quizzes.
Before you go
As a perpetually-busy mother, the costs associated with your beloved vehicle breaking down are unthinkable. To ensure its lasting efficiency, learn how to perform simple maintenance tasks, and rotate tires regularly. Washing the car yourself will save you big bucks and can quickly become your kid’s favorite summer chore.
By using these seven budget-friendly tips, you’ll maintain your “best mom ever” status while following in the footsteps of your fellow responsible car owners.