Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase – Daniel 12:4b
Welcome to the end days. It seems that the more knowledge abounds, the more ignorant people become. Maybe our brains can’t hold it all. Too bad. Nothing wastes money more than ignorance. From both sides of the balance sheet. Wasted budget dollars and wasted potential income. But that’s a topic for another day. This week I’m going to discuss what it costs to run to and fro.
The right vehicle
There are many ways to travel. Planes, trains, ships. Some people still travel by horse and buggy. If you live in a big city, public transportation may be your monthly ticket, but for the big transports, planes, trains and ships, expense should be budgeted in the trip itself. If for pleasure, in the vacation budget, if for business, in business expense.
Most of us get around by car, so our first budget decision is what kind of car and how much we can afford. If you’re rich, get a luxury car, but if you’re not, get the least expensive car that will get you from point A to point B in a reliable, safe, and cheap manner. There are a lot of options out there.
Should you get a new car or a used? I prefer new, but that may be because I come from an era when a lemon meant a lemon. The quality of cars has increased to the point you can depend on many years of worry-free transportation with a late model car. But a low mileage, late model car won’t save that much over the long haul.
Now as a budget fanatic, I have to tell you the best way to buy a car, new or used, is to save for it, not get a car loan. Loans of any kind are not good for a budget, but if you have to, you have to, just make sure you’re not being taken by the car dealer. Look at how much the loan will cost over the entire life of the loan, including principal and interest, and over the lowest number of years possible. Over five years, I’d say you can’t afford it, period. Remember, don’t be ignorant. Beware of low interest or no interest loans. If the cost isn’t the same as you’d buy the car for cash, it’s not a good deal. Again, look at the bottom line when shopping around.
Keeping it running
Even if your car is paid off, you’ll have to keep it running, which means maintenance and fuel. Unless your car has major problems, maintenance isn’t a huge expense, but be sure to plug it into your monthly living expenses. Never short-change upkeep costs. You’ll pay for it in the long run.
My husband recently traded to a F150 truck. I can’t complain about the cost of the vehicle. He traded even, the truck for his small Saturn and an antique Model A Ford. The only problem, that big truck uses twice the gas as the little car. The Model A hardly ever left the garage. That’s why I’m having to rework the budget. But apparently a man has to have his truck and ride around town for no reason at all.
Outside of the type vehicle you buy, there isn’t much you can do about fuel costs. I have a loyalty card that saves a good bit, but other than that, shopping around doesn’t help. Here’s what does help.
Cut out unnecessary trips
If you read my tips for grocery shopping, you’ll know one of the best ways to save is to cut down on trips to the store. That saves transportation costs too. As does, running to the store for other things, or running around anywhere. If you don’t have a specific need to go, don’t.
Share transportation costs
Have we forgotten car-pooling? Not just to go to work. To church. To club meetings. What about transporting kids to practice? This may help you get to know your children’s friends’ parents, always a good idea. We’ve become such an isolated society. Everyone wanting to go his own way, without being bothered with other people, but there’s still value in getting to know people outside your family and tight circle of friends.
Environmentalists are trying to change fuel consumption, but don’t expect them to help your budget. Even if you save gas by buying an electric car, the cost of the car, except a very little one, can be exorbitant. The power from the charging station comes from something, and it’s my guess it’s not from sun or wind.
Not much wiggle room in the transportation budget, but it’s a monthly living expense we can’t get along without. This modern way of life demands we go to and fro, so post the amount of your expense and hope it doesn’t have to be readjusted upward too often.
Next week I’m going to cover taxes, something we should think about all during the year, not just on April 15th.
Have you got all your monthly living expenses listed yet? On paper or computer where you can check it regularly? Good. These things aren’t easy to control unless you keep tabs on them.