Cheap Used Cars - think about 'em

Cheap used cars aren't so much about saving gas as they are about saving money. If you don't drive much, but still need a car, an old "beater" could be just what you need to save money on your overall transportation needs.

The relative difficulty or cost of this tip is rated 1 to 10. A rating of 10 suggests that this tip is the most difficult or most costly. Expected savings are also rated 1 to 10. A rating of 10 suggests that this tip will provide substantial savings in fuel, money or both.

Buy one of the cheap used cars. Here is an idea that worked well for me. It could be just the thing for you too. Buy an inexpensive used vehicle.

This won’t be one of those gas saving tips if your used car isn’t fuel efficient. Mine wasn’t, but it turned out to be one of my best frugal investments ever. Here you are trading off the luxury and prestige of a nice car to keep money in your pocket to feed gas into a less expensive car.

If you do it right, you can come out way ahead.

To save money on gas is one thing, but reducing your total cost of transportation is really the target we should all try to hit. That’s the main reason gas prices are of concern – they make our overall transportation more costly. Here is a way to attack one of the largest cost components of transportation – the price of a car.

Buying cheap used cars can cost as little as a few hundred dollars. If you take this route, you might find yourself in a better financial position in spite of the rising cost of fuel. Better yet, buying cheap used cars that are one of the older high MPG models means you're saving money and gas.

How will a used car save me money? Here are a few ideas:

  • No down payment, just a small purchase price.
  • No monthly payments.
  • Lower insurance since you won’t need collision coverage.
  • Registration fees are often based partly on vehicle value, so those should be less as well.

You can “drive the wheels off it” and it might just be the best few hundred dollars you ever spend. Whether fuel efficient or not, you can always follow my tips and save money on gas in addition to avoiding typical costs associated with a newer set of wheels.

Here is a cost comparison that shows you the math behind the idea of getting one of the good used cars with lower MPG instead of a high MPH new car.

There are other benefits of cheap used cars. Consider these:

  • You won’t care about door dings, so you won’t have to park out in the middle of nowhere to prevent inconsiderate individuals from denting your doors.
  • If someone bumps or bangs into you in the parking lot or on the street, you can simply check for injuries, tell them it was nice “running into you”, and continue on your way. They might be concerned about their dented fender, but you won’t be. You might even collect on their insurance for damage to your vehicle, and then put the money into fuel instead of body repair. I've done that.
  • When it comes time to upgrade to another “beater” you can simply give it away to someone that is less fortunate than you. I've done that too.

These are some of the benefits that I enjoyed with a cheap used car that I owned for 17 years (after the original owner decided to sell it to help buy a new one).

Just check things out well before you buy it. You need to have some assurance that there isn’t a major repair lurking under the hood. Even if you put $500 into it each year in maintenance and repair, that doesn’t even equate to a couple of car payments.

You can find cheap used cars in the newspaper and trading publications, at auctions, in used car lots, through friends and neighbors, and sometimes just by spotting a sign in a car window.

I prefer the friends and neighbors approach because chances are good that you’ll know someone who is familiar with the operating history of the car. If you aren’t comfortable with looking at a car and determining whether it's in good condition, then ask someone to help you who is.

A “beater” isn’t going to be an image enhancer, but you need to decide whether you want a shiny image or a wallet with more cash in it. Whether this is one of those gas saving tips, or a cash saving tip, it deserves to be considered, because the reason we are concerned about saving gas is we want to save money.

Cost or difficulty: 2
Savings: 6

Done with Cheap Used Cars, take me back to Save Gas

There certainly is a broad scope of topics here at Frugal Living Freedom. When you think about it, money permeates so very many activities in our lives, therefore, being frugal encompasses a wide range of interests, from being employed to taking a vacation, and just about everything in between. Enjoy the variety, pick up some new ideas, and start making frugality a part of your signature.

I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.

If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.