College student living on a tight budget

download (1)Of course. Just as we start saving and living on a tight budget, life throws us a curve ball. It’s how you deal with these unexpected circumstances that define you and make you stronger.

A year ago I decided to get a student loan for a car, it seemed a good idea at that time but I struggle now with adding car expenses to my budget now. Today I got a flat tire, I hit a curb trying to avoid some kids playing in the road. The impact of the curb on the side of my tires made a nasty hole right in the rubber. My tires were in bad condition. After some research, I found tires at Wal-Mart for $50.00 each. I went to my local Wal-Mart ready to buy 4 new tires. Wal-Mart gave me two quotes: $250 for 4 new tires installed and balanced and $315 for 4 new tires installed and balanced AND free lifetime balance and rotation. I declined the lifetime service as I am moving next year. Unfortunately, I had to put the $250 onto the credit card I just paid off! I’m not feeling good.

I’m working now on readjusting my driving habits. here is what I got so far. 

Reduce the distance you drive

  • Carpool – For some, this is not an option (me), for others, it is an option but not a convenience. Let’s do a little experiment. Let’s pretend that you find someone to carpool with. You both have a round trip of 40 miles a day. You both agree that He will drive 2 days a week and you will drive 3 days a week. Using the Free Gas Budget calculator I am going to calculate what my new gas budget will be. Currently, it is $57.00.  With the new carpooling regimen it drops down to $34.00! That is a $23.00 difference!
  • Run errands on the way to and from your main destination – This is one that everyone can do. Instead of making a bunch of little errands during the day try and bunch them all up. For example, if you need to drop off the dry cleaning, pick up some groceries, drop off a letter, and visit your mom and all these errands are located near or on your route to let’s say work then you should run them before you get to work or before you return home. This can save a pretty penny or two over time.
  • Public Transport – If you are lucky enough to be able to take advantage of affordable reliable public transport then, by all means, use it. However, if you are able to use public transport but it is unreliable or overpriced I do not think it should be used. The amount of stress that could be caused by a late bus is not worth the saved money.

Drive more efficiently

I am unfortunately not able to carpool or use public transit. I make up for it by driving more efficiently. By keeping my revs down I keep my MPG’s high. The higher your MPG the more miles your car travels per gallon of gas. This directly contributes to how much you are spending a month on gas.

Try this. On the Free Gas Budget calculator you filled out, change your average MPG to the amount that your car is rated by the US Government. You can find that number at FuelEconomy.gov. For my Subaru, the rated MPG is 19. If I replace my average MPG (25) to the rated amount (19) my monthly gas bill increases to $75.00!  That is an increase of $18.00.

Here are some quick tips on increasing your MPG’s

  • Don’t accelerate quickly, keep your revs down, keep sudden stops and braking down.
  • Do not idle the car for more than 30 seconds. This is 0 MPG. It actually uses less gas to turn the car off and then turn it back on when you’re ready to continue your journey.
  • Don’t speed. Every 5 mph over 60 mph is like paying an extra $0.24/gallon
  • Cut back on using the air conditioner or heating.