Kenyans are busy daily to find financial stability. To many, buying or having a car while having a salary less than Ksh50,000 is a poor financial decision.
A car is viewed as a money pit. A thing that is made to cause constant dents in your pocket and is in no way a convenience; unless you earn good money.
To my surprise, Daniel – a cleaner at my workplace - owns a car and commutes with it to work every day. It comes as a surprise because of his income level.
I had to ask him about this. These are some of the tips he gave me for my research.
Many people depend on their cars regularly, whether it’s commuting to work daily or driving once in a while to the market. Although a lot of people get excited at the prospect of getting a car, there are some expenses that come with buying one.
One of the greatest expenses you have to live with is the cost of fuel. Analysts predict that fuel prices will continue rising, so it is better to look towards having fuel-efficient cars if you are currently looking to have one.
The main reason for looking for a fuel-efficient car is to save money in the long term.
As I had mentioned before, fuel is going to be one of your biggest costs unless you are going to leave your car parked and use it least possible. Though it may not look like it, you do possess significant control over how much fuel your car uses.
Little bits of effort to boost your fuel efficiency here and there will sum up to enormous savings at the fuel station and eventually turn into a couple of thousand shillings per year in your pocket.
Try these tips:
• Not using overhead roof carriers unless absolutely necessary
• Using cruise control on highways
• Removing unnecessary load from the car
• Switching off the car in traffic
• Be gentle on the accelerator and brakes
• Maintaining the correct tyre pressure
Vehicle maintenance can be expensive, teaching yourself how to make small corrective fixes can eventually keep your maintenance costs down.
It is possible to learn how to do simple things like inflating your tires, changing your fluids, fuses, headlights, lamps and even spark plugs. If it excites you, you could learn to change your oil and rotate your own tires. Remember to always ensure your safety and if you feel uncertain about your ability to do these jobs, consult a professional.
Once you get comfortable owning a car, it becomes so easy to hop in and go on an errand. It is possible to run so many errands going back and forth and this can be expensive for you in terms of fuel and other charges like parking fees.
Instead, you consider planning ahead of your trip to ensure you are exercising a bit of efficiency every time you leave your house. Consider visiting stores that are in close proximity to each other.
You can also create a list of things to do so you wouldn’t get sidetracked. Reducing the frequency at which you go out goes ahead to save you some fuel and a lot of parking payments, which eventually will put money in your pocket.
Another way to cut down on costs is carpooling. Think about it. You and your mates are at point A all of you commuting to point B. You all have cars. Instead of all of you taking out our cars, you could use one. You can carpool with schoolmates, coworkers, even family. Carpooling will reduce the time you drive, save money on fuel, and will put less wear and tear on your vehicle if you are the one leaving your car at home.
A major repair is another expensive cost that might come with owning a vehicle. It is conditional. Conducting regular maintenance on your vehicle will almost get rid of major repair costs.
Ensure your belts, brake pads, fluids and other parts that wear and tear get replaced as often as recommended by your owner’s manual. This will help you get more life out of the car. Regular diagnostics will help catch any issues that need attention early on, which could help avoid expensive emergency fixes.
Do not put off fixing small maintenance issues while they are small. The last thing you’d want is for small issues to culminate into something ugly later on, costing you a lot of time and money to repair.
If your vehicle is sitting in your parking space accumulating dust more often than not, try making some income out of it by renting it out. You can put it on car-sharing platforms when you aren’t using it.
Savvy vehicle owners supplement their income in this manner and make between Ksh2,000 to Ksh10,000 a day depending on the type of car they have. By doing this, your car is, more or less, able to generate money to maintain and run itself.
A car is a kind of asset that depreciates with time. Its value quickly plummets when you take it out of the showroom. Its value will most likely drop by around 20% in the first year of ownership, and ten years later, it may only be worth 10% of its original value.
If you aren’t fussed about how you move from A to B, consider a well-maintained older or second-hand car instead. It is way cheaper than a brand new car so are their spares too.
So what I gathered from Daniel is that saving money on your car expenses starts by knowing how to get good cars at low prices.
What about after buying it?
What follows after, will be about how well you take care of your vehicle. The better care you give to your car, the more life you give it.
We have all seen cars with very old registration numbers still running perfectly on the roads. But it will all come down to your decision. You know what your needs and wants are.
In case you decide to get a car, do consider these tips before and after purchase.