How to Budget for Auto Maintenance

You’ve done your homework, you’ve read the reports, and now you are the proud owner of a new car! Congratulations, buying a car is an exciting time in any person’s life. Not to mention, buying a car is typically the second most expensive purchase the majority of people make in their lifetime, next to a home.

But while buying a car can be an ecstatic feeling, there is more to owning a car then simply signing on the dotted line. Often times new car owners forget one very important detail that accompanies car ownership: car maintenance.

Don’t you hate the feeling in the pit of your stomach when you find out that your car needs work done? If you’re not careful with your money, a simple auto repair can throw you into troubled waters.

Auto maintenance not only costs you money, but it also costs you your precious time — but it can save so much more than it costs, so it’s worth the bother. If you want to ensure that you are never surprised with the cost of auto maintenance, read on to learn practical tips on how to budget for auto maintenance.

The Dangers of Not Budgeting for Auto Maintenance

The biggest danger of not budgeting for auto maintenance is that when your car needs service, you want to make sure you have enough money in your bank account to pay for the repairs.

Additionally, learning to budget for auto repairs is a great way to make sure that you keep up with regular maintenance. It’s all too easy to forget to schedule an oil change every 3,000 – 5,000 miles, especially if you don’t have the cash to pay for it. Simply recording that you have auto expenses is a great way to ensure that they never lose their importance in your mind.

Learn to Budget

It’s time to get to the budgeting business. I want you to use a tool (an app, a notebook, a spreadsheet) and begin to write down everything you spend your money on. For the sake of this article, be sure to record your auto insurance payments, your fuel costs and any and all car related expenses.

If possible, try to figure out how much money you spent getting work done to your car in years past, such as how long it will took before you needed new tires or the frequency of oil changes. The goal here is to figure out how much money you have historically spent on the car and use that as our basis to determine how much money we plan on spending in the future.

Break your budget into categories: fixed expenses, variable expenses and categorize your expenditures, think utilities, groceries, entertainment, and maintenance. Fortunately, if you’re using an app, you’ll see that most programs organize a budget with common categories for you.

Physically making a budget forces you to see where your money is going and you can then begin to see areas where you can pull back and save money. Saving money is crucial because, as you’ll find out, maintaining a car can add up! Learn how to budget, because this is the first step in successfully budgeting for auto maintenance. You must walk before you run.

Your Budget Depends on Your Car

Similar to how each snowflake is unique, each car expense is unique. The owner of a Lamborghini will generally pay more in car maintenance then the owner of a Honda. You need to consider which car you drive as that will directly influence your budget.

It’s a good idea to do some research on the internet to identify common issues with your car. This will help you become aware of the costs you may end up paying and give you insights into best practices to follow to maintain your car.

Visit your favorite car-related website to read consumer reviews on your specific make and model, information to compare auto costs, and how to refinance an auto loan.

At minimum, spend time reading the owner’s manual to learn what you should watch out for. For example, you can find information as to how frequently you should give your car an oil change.

Do your homework to learn about the expenses your car will face in order to give you a solid idea of what you should account for in your budget.

Budget For Regular Maintenance

Every car, regardless of the make, has similar expenses to budget for. As a car owner, chances are you are going to take your car to the shop for basic maintenance such as oil changes, rotating tires, and small repairs to ensure your car is running in tip top shape. Putting aside at least $75.00 per month for basic maintenance is a good idea.

Please keep in mind that most of the time, you won’t be spending $75 dollars a month on car maintenance. It’s not common to get an oil change every month, or to change your air filters on a monthly basis. The $75 is good to budget for because it compounds every month; so when you do have a large expense such as a new set of tires, or a new transmission, you’ll have enough money saved up to cover the big bills.

Include Car Insurance Rates

You might find car insurance commercials annoying, but they make a great point. It’s illegal to operate an automotive vehicle without car insurance. As a consumer, it can only benefit you to you shop around to find the best deals. Typically, car insurance can cost you anywhere from $50 – $100 per month. Add this to your budget.

Don’t Forget Fuel Costs

Ah, the pain at the pump! You need to account for how much money you spend on fuel each month. Most people spend anywhere from $100.00 – $200.00 per month, but this varies. Budget for fuel, so you know exactly how much you should save.

Add in Car Payments

Unless you’re an exception, most people finance the purchase of their car. Be sure to budget for your car payments! This expense can range from $200 – $600 per month, but again, this will vary between people.

No matter what you do, the best way to budget for auto maintenance is to simply research your car, figure out the likely expenses and account for them in your budget. Once you are aware of how much money it takes to maintain a car, you will never be in a position where you won’t have enough money to take care of your vehicle! Knowledge is power, so do your homework to make sure you always have enough money to keep your car running strong.

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