• The Problem with “Driving It Into the Ground”

    I subscribe to the philosophy of driving a car into the ground before you replace it. I’m thirty five years old and over the course of my entire life (since I was sixteen), I’ve been the primary driver of only three automobiles – and the third one is going to last several more years. With …

  • Looking Ahead at Automotive Decisions

    Every once in a while, it’s useful to look at the state of the automobiles that your family owns and ask some hard questions about upcoming costs, both in terms of repair and eventual replacement. I thought I’d walk through these questions as they relate to our own cars to provide some ideas of what …

  • Is Premium Gas Worth It?

    You’re standing at the gas pump. There are multiple fuel types available – a low-cost type that’s marked with an 87 octane rating that also has 10% ethanol, a medium priced gas that’s 87 but more expensive than the ethanol gas, and a premium fuel that has a 91 octane rating. (Note that you may …

  • Car Insurance: Is Liability or Comprehensive Coverage Right for Me?

    When you’re shopping for car insurance – something that’s a legal requirement in most areas when you own a car – one of the biggest questions that comes your way is whether or not you should have liability coverage or comprehensive coverage on your automobile. Liability coverage is usually cheaper, but comprehensive coverage covers more. …

  • Do Your Own Car Maintenance, Save Hundreds Per Year

    Many people settle into a route of convenience when it comes to the maintenance on their automobile. They take their car to the dealer or to a car servicing business every 5,000 miles or so, generally following their manufacturer’s recommendation, and they just pay that business to take care of car maintenance for them. Here’s …

  • The Teenager’s Car Conundrum

    Sometimes, I get questions that are perfect for the Reader Mailbag, except that when I actually start writing out the answer, it turns into a full post. This is one of those times. Leslie writes in: My daughter is turning sixteen this August. We’re going to buy her a used car as a gift, but …

  • Comparing Costs Between New and Used Cars

    The best way to maximize your value from a car, regardless of when you buy it, is to drive it until the problems become overwhelming, then trade it in for whatever value you can get out of it. I consider that the first rule of frugal car buying. The tough question is whether or not …

  • What Is Fuel Efficiency Really Worth?

    A few days ago, I posted an article on saving money on fuel during your commute. While all of those tips were useful, one in particular can really reduce your fuel costs when commuting – buying a more fuel-efficient car. But what does that really mean in terms of dollars and cents? Before you even …

  • 14 Ways to Save Money on Your Commuting Fuel Costs Without Giving Up Your Car

    Whenever I see advice on saving money on commuting fuel costs, the suggestions often revolve around completely giving up your car. I’m as guilty of that as anyone else. It’s a great way to drastically trim your finances. Let’s be honest, though: a lot of people simply aren’t going to give up their car. They …

  • Car Insurance: Value Beyond Merely “Insuring” You

    There’s already a ton of great information from Jeff in The Simple Dollar’s guide about shopping around for auto insurance – how to choose it and how to optimize it. Rather than just rehashing my own experiences with auto insurance, I wanted to look at it from a different angle. Obviously, my choices helped define …

  • Putting a Value on Reliability: When Is It Time to Trade In Your Car?

    A friend of mine has been driving the same car for more than a decade. For most of that time, it’s been reliable as a rock. It’s started like a charm on some frightfully cold mornings and it’s only rarely needed any repairs. Over the last year, though, lots of little problems have started cropping …

  • Six Reasons Why I Don’t Want a Luxury Car – Ever

    A while back, I read a “wonderful” article over at Forbes entitled “Ten Reasons to Buy a Luxury Car.” Such important factors as “prestige” and “horses under the hood” were bandied about. Personally, I didn’t really find any of the reasons to be compelling ones for buying a luxury car. Instead, here are six reasons …

  • Is Renting a Car Cheaper for a Long Road Trip?

    Monica wrote in with a question that I thought deserved a detailed answer. I’m going to b…

  • Some Thoughts on Higher Gas Prices

    I’m lucky. I don’t commute to work, unless you consider a stroll across the house to be a commute. I don’t put daily miles on a vehicle, though I do need to travel to the library and the post office for different work-related tasks. My wife, Sarah, does commute to work, though. She drives about …

  • Saving Pennies or Dollars? Going Below Speed Limit

    Saving Pennies or Dollars is a new semi-regular series on The Simple Dollar, inspired by a great discussion on The Simple Dollar’s Facebook page concerning frugal tactics that might not really save that much money. I’m going to take some of the scenarios described by the readers there and try to break down the numbers …

  • Doing the Math on Paying Cash for Cars

    Quite often, I get emails from readers asking about the “best” way to purchase a particular car that they want. They have their eye on some new model and want me to essentially tell them that it’s okay to purchase it. I rarely do. Taking out a loan for a car is only a good …

  • Minimizing the Cost of Holiday Car Travel

    Like a lot of people this week, our family is traveling by car to a number of Thanksgiving dinners. As I taught the children to sing recently, “On the interstate and across the bridge, to Grandma’s house we go!” Of course, when you’re traveling during the holiday season, you’re opening the door to some potential …

  • Is It Really Cheaper to Ride the Bus?

    Aaron writes in: I love your cost breakdowns when you calculate the real truth behind some financial choice. I’ve got one for you. Is it really cheaper to ride public transportation to work? I have a bus stop about a block from my house. For about $2 each way, I can use public transportation to …

  • Our New Car: A 2004 Honda Pilot (Bought Off of Craigslist)

    Meet our new automobile, a 2004 Honda Pilot, which we purchased as a replacement for our ailing, rusty 1997 Ford F-150 pickup: We purchased it a few weeks ago, paying cash, while simultaneously selling off our truck. Perhaps most interestingly of all, we found the vehicle on Craigslist, bought it locally, and got a very …