My Frugal Life: Frugality Includes Our Cars

When we hear the word "frugality", many people think of smart housewives who scrimp and save to "help make ends meet", particularly in years gone by when there were fewer two-income families. Nowadays, we men are showing our thrifty side by doing what we can toward living the frugal lifestyle.


My ways to save money concern our automobiles, both their purchase and their maintenance. Look carefully at Consumer Reports magazine to see how they rate cars for reliability, economy, safety, and the comfort of both driver and passenger. A shiny new Mustang is a beautiful car; however, putting two people in its backseat is akin to cruel and unusual punishment. Buying a car with the cruise control feature will consistently save money so is always a wise move.

A new car model sometimes has "bugs" and may need more repairs than a car that has been around for a few years. My uncle was a Chevrolet dealer and would not allow me to buy a Corvair the first year they were available. Wait for two years to see if it proves itself, he advised, and then buy that Corvair. (Ralph Nader was right.)


Before heading out to buy a car, arm yourself with some actual figures: wholesale price versus sticker price. Do not fall into the trap of buying extravagant "gizmos": heated seats, automatic headlight dimmers, or fancy, intricate radio/stereo systems. Frugal people use their vehicle for transportation, never as a way to show off. If you do not wish to do any price negotiating yourself, a good alternative is to use a buying service such as AAA or Consumer Reports.

Periodic maintenance on your car is crucial. Be faithful about oil changes, tune-ups, and wheel alignments; doing so will keep your car's reliability high. Breaking down every 300 miles will surely shoot your budget! Operate your car in a sensible manner: no jackrabbit starts and no desperate rush to make it to the next red light. Driving intelligently will save you money in the long run and will prevent costly traffic tickets.


As for gasoline, frugal individuals always fill their tanks fairly early in the day. Hot weather causes lower density in the gasoline, and thus you get less for your money. A Honda Civic and a Hummer will both get from Point A to Point B quite adequately, but your wallet will be depleted at least three times sooner with the Hummer.

Can any individual utilize ALL of the above tips ALL of the time? Probably not, but by being consistent, it is safe to say that frugality will result.

By Frank from Sun City, AZ

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December 5, 20070 found this helpful

Great tips. I always learn something new on ThriftyFun. Frugal people are usually so generous, i.e. sharing wisdom. Mahalo.

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June 20, 20100 found this helpful

I had a small SUV. I got sucked into the whole, the car has to be bigger in case you are hit by another car way of thinking. Whoever has the biggest barge on the road wins. Now I have a plain jane Ford Focus. I love it. Especially when it is time to fill the tank.

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