How much debt would you get into for a nice car?

I am always shocked when I notice how much new cars cost these days. The average cost of a new car in the UK is more than £28,000! Even a decent used car costs an average of around £8,500. I wonder how many people buy their cars on finance, paying even more in interest? The idea of being £28,000 in debt in order to drive absolutely terrifies me.

I don’t know how anyone can actually afford a new car, but I suppose someone needs to or there would be no second-hand ones for those of us who live on smaller budgets. However, I would be reluctant to purchase new even if I had £28k lying around because cars depreciate in value so quickly. According to the Money Advisory Service,  the ‘drop in value varies between makes and models, but typically is between 15-35% in the first year and up to 50% or more over three years’. So you start to wave goodbye to a lot of money as you drive your shiny new car off the forecourt.

I bought my 5 year old Zafira for £3500 in 2008 and she finally died on me last June. I think this was pretty good going. However, I replaced her with an even cheaper car – Mr S picked up a little Toyota Yaris for £500 from a friend. An old but reliable car – not glamorous but she gets me to and from work and is cheaper to run than the Zafira!

I would struggle without a car but really don’t care a jot about having a vehicle as a status symbol. If I won the lottery tomorrow my natural frugal instincts would in all likelihood still insist I buy a decent second-hand car rather than wasting money on a brand new one. Although I do love a classic or vintage car and I could argue that would be an investment! A car of some kind is an essential for me but an old banger will do nicely until that lottery win arrives. I would rather put my money towards my mortgage or in savings!  How about you?

Feeling grumpy

Annoyingly the prospective lodger didn’t turn up last night. Only 2 of the 4 have so far. One girl arrived with her boyfriend in tow. She seemed nice but asked if he could stay over a few times each week. We had already decide this was a no-no. It is a single room and I don’t want two lodgers for the price of one. We have said we will only take a woman because my daughter feels uncomfortable meeting a strange man in the kitchen in his dressing gown in the morning. She is only 18 and doesn’t really want a lodger at all. 

There was a Polish girl I really liked but she ideally wanted a studio flat and has now found one. I also had a lady ask if we would rent to her 70 year old mother. I don’t fancy a retiree as they will be in the house all the time. I would also feel responsible for her welfare and I don’t want that. Oh well, hopefully somebody suitable will come along soon. 

I am also grumpy trying to get my daughter added to my car insurance. I am using Compare the Market and thought I had found a good quote. I planned to buy it on one credit card and then transfer the balance to my other 0% interest one. However they upped the quote by £65 when they found I had attended a speed awareness course last year. I was furious! One ticket in over 30 years of driving  and that makes me a risky driver. I have already taken my punishment of £100 and lost a day to attend the course, which already made me mad, and now this. I wouldn’t mind if I was a girl racer but far from it! I told them to stick it and have gone back to square one. 

My daughter will be paying the extra herself now that she is a working girl. Just as well as I can’t afford £1000 a year for my car insurance. I paid £160 last year.

I can’t even work out my frustration in the garden as it is currently pouring. I think I need to do some yoga!

On the plus side we all really enjoyed the film last night, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. If I do finally get my insurance through Compare the Market I will be able to use their two for one cinema offer and maybe we will go more often. We hardly ever do! Ok, back to finding a great deal…

She Passed! Now the Fun Begins

Darling daughter no 1 finally passed her driving test last week after a couple of attempts. She was absolutely thrilled at the independence this will give her.

Tearing-up-L-platesShe already has her car. Her great aunt gave it to her before she went into a home. It is nothing special, but it is small, cheap to run and so far reliable. Her shock came with the cost of the insurance. She shopped around and got what appears to be a decent deal, but it cost £1500!! Such a lot to pay. I have told her she will also need to budget for petrol, car tax, the MOT and any unexpected repair costs. She has nodded in agreement throughout, but whether she will actually take my advice remains to be seen. Something will have to give to enable her to run her car, and it won’t be my housekeeping….

I remember passing my own test, a  million years ago. I ran round the house singing the Grandstand theme (you probably have to be a certain age to know that) and thought I was finally all grown up 🙂 However, I didn’t have to face the crippling costs that youngsters look at today – insurance and petrol were much cheaper and my lovely Dad sorted out my MOT.

She has barely been in the house since she passed, and even went and did the Aldi shop for me the other night as I wasn’t feeling great. So there will be benefits for me: my very own gofer and a bit of peace and quiet at home (until the novelty wears off anyway!).

One step forward, two steps back

Feeling a bit down today. I had been feeling great as First Utility had agreed to a huge rebate for all of the grief and stress they have given me over the past 6 months and it would be going in this week. Then the car developed a funny squeak. The garage said it was brake cable and back brakes and repaired it in Wednesday for £300. Never mind, I thought, I will still have enough for my Christmas fund and to pay off some bills. Then today it felt terrible to drive and was dragging me to the right as I drove to work. I dropped it straight at the garage thinking it must be a tracking issue. I have just heard it is too dangerous to drive and will cost me a further £380! I can’t believe it 🙁

At least I have the money. If it hadn’t been for the first Utility credit I would be stuffed.

I had to update this post to show you the damage. The mechanic wasn’t exaggerating when he said it was too dangerous to drive. The front of the car could have collapsed at any time! I am thankful that it didn’t and we are all safe!


So, back to small frugal steps…

The family always moan about crispy towels in my house. I actually quite like a crispy towel for a brisk rub down after my shower, but I think I am alone on that one!! A while ago I gave in and started to buy Aldi’s fabric softener. It didn’t seem to achieve much and the towels stayed crispy. I decided to try white vinegar as a softener instead to see what they thought. I have to say, it has left the towels a lot softer and there is not a hint of eau de vinegar about them! Vinegar is a wonderful thing. I use it for a lot of my cleaning  too. I bought about 6 bottles ages ago for about 60p each in Asda. I couldn’t find them the other day, so I need to find another source and stick up as I am nearly out. Cheaper than the big brand fabric softeners and more effective than a cheap one, that’s for sure.

imageStill loads of veg coming through. The tomato crop has been fabulous! Still loads of runner beans and chard too, with a steady supply of courgettes.

So we won’t starve even if my plans for the First Utility money have been scuppered! C’est la vie.

Warm glow of satisfaction

For the first time ever my car has got through it’s MOT with no issues!! Well apart from a new bulb. It cost £51 and I am delighted!!

This is especially important as we are driving it from Essex to the Lake District soon and I was terrified they might find something expensive and time consuming. Huge relief!!

imageI spent the entire day working in the garden yesterday trying to get as much as possible done and my greenhouse cleared of any seedlings. DD1 says she will water it whilst I am away but I know from experience she won’t do it enough. Hopefully the tomatoes are big and strong enough to cope but the baby plants will die. At least outside they might get some rain.

I am ashamed to say I got sunburnt! I have fair skin and I am usually careful but used Mr S’s factor 10 instead of my usual factor 20. Silly me! Luckily I have a tube of aloe vera which is brilliant for any kind of burn so have been applying liberally.

I picked a couple of lettuces which I have washed and bagged up for lunches all week. We also had our own early potatoes, spinach and raspberries for our tea last night – delicious.

So – warm glows all round!

Be Prepared

I started my day in the local fast fit tyre place getting a new front tyre after picking up a huge nail yesterday. It needed replacing anyway so at least that has been done before the next MOT.

imageFortunately I have been putting money by for car insurance, tax and maintenance, so I wasn’t phased by the expense. I am so happy that I finally got organised to do this. I don’t have a huge emergency fund at the moment but this is something I am working on – so important if I am to avoid any credit card bills in the future.

All those years at Brownies did teach me something then. Be Prepared was the motto and this time I really was. As well as having the money to pay for my new tyre, I was prepared for the wait and took a mini flask of tea to drink whilst I was waiting. Perfect!!

A Hair Raising Journey

I know my tyre looks completely bald, but honestly - it isn't!!

I know my tyre looks completely bald, but honestly – it isn’t!!

Myself, Mr Shoestring and darling daughter 3 drove from North Essex to London today, where DD2 is at university. She has just finished her first year actually and wanted us to collect most of her belongings as she has to move off campus. As it is her birthday tomorrow, we met her and her boyfriend at the Westfield Shopping Centre, and I treated everybody to lunch. We each had a huge plate of noodles from the Chinese street food stall, which worked out at about £9 each with a drink. This was pushing the boat out for me, but good value and we were all very full up afterwards.

As we were driving down, Mr S declared I had a stone or something in the car tyre. I had noticed an odd noise the day before, but by the time I had got home I forgot all about it. When we arrived, we checked and it turned out to be an enormous nail! The tyre was still inflated, but looking a bit flatter than is ideal. We had a debate….should we change the tyre ourselves which, from past experience, we knew might be difficult? They are hard to get off! Should we call the RAC, which would probably involve waiting around for hours? Or should we put a bit of air in it and take a slow drive home? We chose the latter, which was probably foolhardy but worked out for the best and we got home with no problems. I will have to take it to the tyre fitters and see if I can get a repair early tomorrow before work.

I seem to attract sharp objects to my tyres. It’s not that long since I had my last puncture – I reckon I have one a year at least!! I need to channel the energy to attract money into my bank account instead…

I resisted all of the shops in Westfield apart from Lakeland. I love that shop! I have been looking for a couple of suitable storage baskets to keep my recycling in before it gets taken outside and I found the perfect thing, for £5.00 each. They are plastic so easy to keep clean, and will look much smarter in my hallway than the current ones. I have been searching for ages so I was happy to find these.



Saving Money on Motoring

Five years ago, I purchased a five year old Zafira. This is a great car for a family – it is a 7 seater, but it is really easy to put the back seats down and just have a big boot. This is great for transporting the family, and having a big boot space has been invaluable on many occasions. It has been brilliant for our many cheap camping holidays, as well as for collecting a freebie fridge and two bootloads of hardcore from fellow Freecyclers.

carHowever, it isn’t a Vauxhall Zafira, but an Opal Zafira – identical apart from the name. It appears it was purchased new in Ireland and imported to the UK. The first year I had it I insured it with the AA, no problem. When I came to renew it, however, they advised that they no longer insured imports. You would think that getting reasonably priced insurance on a regular family car would be easy enough, wouldn’t you? No!! Since then I have struggled to find insurance that hasn’t cost more than the car was worth. This year, I have it insured for third party, fire and theft only, and it still cost me £450!

So why, you are asking, have you kept this old car when it is costing so much in insurance? I have explored selling it and buying something else, but the fact is that I can only afford an old car. If I sell this one I will be lucky to make £400 on it. I know my old banger – it is useful and reliable and has so far cost very little to maintain. If I spend my £400 on someone else’s old banger I don’t really know what problems I will inherit. So I will hang on to the old girl for a bit longer and take the hit on the insurance.

What I try to do to mitigate some of the cost is watch my fuel consumption. The car has an on-board computer that tells me what my instant diesel consumption is. If I put my foot down hard the number of miles I get to the gallon plummets. If I am light on the accelerator I can see that I am getting more miles for my money. Simple really. I also try to change gear exactly when the car needs it rather than when the engine starts to complain. If I need to go out in the car, I try to get all my errands done on the same trip.

But I think I could do more. According to the AA, you can save up to 10% on your fuel if you get your car serviced regularly to keep the engine running efficiently. I am sure this is right, but it actually costs quite a lot to get it serviced. This year there was a deal at the garage near to where I work to do the MOT and a mini service for £75 so I gave it a go, but for a couple of years the car wasn’t serviced at all.

The AA also advises you check your car manual to make sure the tyres are at the correct pressure, as under inflated tyres use more fuel. I had two new tyres fitted recently so they were checked then, but I will make a note to do it again when I get some more diesel.

I have a friend who always keeps a barrel on the top of her landrover as it is handy storage. This is a no-no, according to the AA, as roof boxes and storage containers add wind resistance, therefore increasing fuel consumption. Ditto carrying heavy loads around in your boot. This is not a good place to store all your garden tools!

Other tips from the AA:

Cut down on the air-con as this increases fuel consumption. So if it’s a hot day open the windows rather than turn on the air conditioning. Also turn off anything electrical in the car when you aren’t using it: heated windscreens, fans and headlights. If you get stuck in a traffic jam and it looks as though it will be a while, turn off the engine. Stick to speed limits: the faster you go the more fuel you will use. You may also get a speeding ticket which will cost you a fine and is likely to increase the cost of your insurance.

 ‘Driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph. Cruising at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.’ – The AA

These small things could add up to a big saving, particularly if you use your car a lot.

I always try to refuel at the supermarket as they are cheaper, in my experience, and I pass the Asda petrol station on my way to work so it makes sense.

I found another good money saving motoring tip from a few years ago which I have used a couple of times. Most councils have their own MOT testing centres for council vehicles that are open to the public. They generally provide only the MOT test and do not carry out any remedial repairs, and therefore they have no vested interest in diagnosing anything other than genuine faults. My ex-husband got an ancient old banger through its MOT on three occasions when it would certainly have had the mechanics at any other garage sucking their teeth and rubbing their hands with glee at the faults they could find!