Last year saw a brief period of bliss for drivers when fuel prices dropped to less than a pound per litre. Unfortunately, with these prices on the rise once again, driving has returned to being one very costly business, especially for those of us who are trying to tighten our purse straps. With a few habitual changes and a healthy dose of shopping around, however, the pennies saved will begin to add up.
Very few drivers wouldn’t groan when the subject of car insurance comes up in conversation. It’s not cheap and it’s fraught with companies trying to squeeze a little bit extra out of your pocket. Comparisons websites are useful, but take the quotes you receive with a pinch of salt. Use them as a basis to call up the company and negotiate the price. More often than not, and especially when it comes to renewals, companies would rather match a lower price than lose your custom altogether. Not always, but worth a try nonetheless.
While we’re on the subject of insurance, why not consider opting for a black box policy? Lots of companies use these devices nowadays – they’re used to track your behaviour and habits on the roads, such as how harshly you’re accelerating and breaking, and what times of day you tend to travel. Drive smoothly and safely and your premium will come down – in theory, at least.
There are easy changes you can make to your driving style in order to reduce the amount of gas your vehicle is guzzling. For one, try switching down through the gears to slow down the engine rather than slamming on your brakes – the more harshly you break, the more fuel (and cash) fritters away. In addition, when travelling on high-speed roads, dropping your speed to 55-60mph can be much more economical than flying about at 70. It’s common sense, just not commonly put into practice.
Did you know that you can now pay your road tax monthly? Although the cost in the long run may be higher, paying in smaller, more affordable chunks can be less strenuous on your bank balance.
Another word of advice is to stop shelling out on getting somebody else to wash your car – summer is here and the weather is great, so grab a sponge and get lathering! Think about the amount of cash you’ll save over a period of a year – that’s your motivation! You could even wash some of your neighbours’ cars (if they’ll let you) and start making money rather than spending it.
Of course, you’ll save a pretty penny by finding alternative methods of travel. Dig out your old bike or get walking if it’s a shorter journey. These options burn fat and save money, whereas sitting in a car tends to save fat and burn money. And what better time to give it a go than over the next few months when the days are long and the weather is warm? It’s a no-brainer really.
For more tips on cutting the cost of driving, the Money Advice Service is the way to go. Head to moneyadviceservice.org.uk and click on ‘Cars and travel’.
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) runs CAP Money courses all over the country, designed to give you the tools to manage your finances better and save money. Search for your nearest course at capmoney.org. CAP specializes in helping people who are stuck in the debt trap, so if you’re struggling and need help, head to capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006.
By Adriaan Van Wyk
Centre Manager – Belper