We spend a lot of time joking around here. But let’s get serious for a second and talk about the big issues, and how to deal with them in a mature, adult manner.

Like punching things we don’t like right in the fucking face.

I called on fellow FIRE blogger Mrs. Picky Pincher, the blogger and money-saving maven at www.PickyPinchers.com, to see where she wants to throw her surprisingly powerful punches. Mrs. Picky Pincher writes about living the good life while paying down ugly debt – like that associated with overpriced, depreciating, gas-guzzling behemoths that have no damn business being part of your daily commute. Which, you guessed it, is her topic for sparring today.

How to punch car costs right in the face

Nothing ticks me off like overpaying for something. My face turns beet-red when I realize I paid too much for cable, clothes, food—you name it. Since Mr. Picky Pincher and I started our getting-out-of-debt journey, I’ve been budget-slashing like it’s my full-time job. For a long time I assumed our car costs were fixed expenses with zero negotiation.

Until I learned they were super-negotiable. I saw fellow bloggers decimate their car bills and knew I could do it, too. Even though I’m a chicken when it comes to negotiations, I was able to make it work! Check out the few simple rules we followed to punch car costs in the face.

Buy a used car

I’m not gonna lie—I used to get skeeved out by the idea of used cars. I thought they were unreliable, dirty hunks of metal that were a waste of money. I was aaaall about owning a new car (and the $450/month payment that came with it).

One day Mr. Picky Pincher and I crunched the numbers and realized my new car was eating our budget from the inside-out. After seeing the math, I had no choice but to get rid of my new car. I walked to work for a few months while we saved cash to purchase a used vehicle. It was a little rough (especially since I’m a spoiled little princess1), but we saved so much money by switching to used cars.

I know some people are against used cars because of the chance they’ll need pricey repairs, and I get that. But if you get a good used car, you’re on the right track. Dumping my obsession with my new Honda Fit saved us $450/month alone. Aww yeah!

Use your car less

I learned something interesting during the few months that I walked to work: I hated walking. My city isn’t pedestrian-friendly. At least once a week I had to dive to the ground to avoid becoming a Picky pancake. Even the sidewalk wasn’t safe from these drivers—it was like Wacky Races on a daily basis.

Anyway, I digress. Although walking didn’t work out for me long term, I saved $10 in car costs each time I walked to work. I didn’t have to pay for a vehicle, gas, or insurance without that second car. By walking, I put thousands of dollars into my pocket.

If you want to save a lot of moolah, going without a car or limiting your car use is the way to go. It sounds extreme to some people (it did to me), but the math works out in favor of walking or cycling. Hell, even public transportation is a more affordable option than car ownership.

Call your insurer

I’m a super-shy person and I hate calling people on the phone. And I hate negotiating discounts and prices even more. But when I saw our monthly insurance bill was over $200, I got ugly-angry.

I called my insurer and asked what discounts I qualified for. To my pleasant surprise, we’d get a hefty discount if Mr. Picky Pincher and I did defensive driving. I signed us up, spent a Sunday doing the boring online course, and got my discount that Monday. It amounted to $500 in savings over the next three years. Not too shabby, eh?

I call my insurer once a year to ask about new discounts. It’s terrifying for me, but it’s a great way to save money by just asking.

Don’t drive like me

There’s a reason Mr. Picky Pincher drives me everywhere. I’m an angry, impatient driver.2 It’s not something I’m proud of, but I get fed up the second I’m behind the wheel. The constant texting and the lack of turn signals is enough to drive me batty. But yeah, the downside to aggressive/angry driving is that you pay a lot more in gas. You also get more wear on your brakes and tires.3 It’s not a huge deal in the short term, but this type of driving can ruin your car.

So don’t drive like me, y’all. 🙂

(Instead, get around like The Vigilante does. See the Transportation section of How Exactly to Retire 10 Years Earlier!)

The Bottom Line

It will always cost money to get around. But there are a few creative ways you can stick it to The Man to decrease your car costs. Sometimes it requires a little bit of extra work, like walking to the grocery store or making a phone call, but the savings are always worth it.

We want to know: How have you punched car costs in the face?

  1. Aren’t we all.
  2. Makes one wonder about the effectiveness of the defensive driving class, right?
  3. The Vigilante likes to remind himself – and Mrs. Vigilante, to her chagrin – of the common line from the hypermiling community: “If you hit your brakes, you’ve made a mistake.” It’s always best to anticipate stops and ease up on the gas well in advance, coasting to a stop as much as safely possible. It reduces wear and tear, and for every little bit of lost momentum due to a tap of the brake, there’s that much more gas you have to use to accelerate again!

6 Comments on "Guest Post: How to punch car costs right in the face"

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We live rurally so walking is not an option here either (blind corner no shoulder roads are not something I’d recommend walking on). That being said we do reduce car costs by having moved closer to work and car pooling whenever possible.

Mrs. Groovy

Except for visiting Mr. G’s family 3 hours away and vacation driving, we don’t put much mileage on our car. When he began working at home we were able to get him reclassified to a pleasure driver, I believe that’s what it’s called. That brought our rates down a little.

It’s smart of you to make those calls, Mrs. P — they don’t willingly give discounts to loyal customers unless you ask for them.


Look, I’m FIRE for awhile now. And I still buy used cars. Why not? They are less costly and that just makes sense since all cars are good for at least 250,000 miles now?

Mrs. COD

Oh yeah! I would have loved to walk to work the past few years, but lived 15 miles away and had kids. I wish I’d considered walking back when I was single and lived just a half-mile from work! I am so glad you didn’t become a Picky pancake in your walkin’ days!

I definitely have adjusted my expectations of vehicles and now drive an 11-year-old van that is working just great! Hope to keep it going for a couple more years! I don’t look forward to needing a newer one, so here’s to saving to pay with cash again!