Saturday, 17 September 2011

Driving a Golden Car

Owning a car is one of the least frugal things you can do, so why are there over 31 million cars on the road in the UK? Frankly, in cities like London with excellent public transport I have no idea why people feel the need to drive. Even the convenience factor of having your own vehicle is negated by the frequency of the buses/tubes, which are usually within walking distance even on the outskirts.

I, however, live in Cornwall. Unfortunately for me (and my bank account) I live 8 miles from the nearest town and 2 miles from the poorly-serviced bus stop. This makes it almost prohibitively inconvenient to use public transport and a car is an essential expense.

My little Nissan Micra finally gave up the ghost about a month ago, so I was forced to buy myself a new car. I was hoping to get away with spending £550, however the cars I looked at in this price range were.. interesting.. One man tried to sell me a “great little runner”, which it may well have been if he'd managed to get it to start.

In the end I bought a £750 Peugeot 306, which came with 12 months MOT but no road tax. It's a 1.9L engine, which means I jumped to the higher tax bracket of £215 for a year. Luckily it's diesel, which means its uses less fuel than the petrol equivalent, however the cost of petrol at my local garage is 135.9p/L, whilst diesel is 139.9p/L. (I include this rip-off so that in days to come I can look back and long for the days when it was this “cheap”). I've worked out that it'll do ~10 miles per litre of diesel, meaning I'm spending ~£20 per week on fuel.

That's not the end of the expense of running a car however; I still had to insure it. I was on my parents' insurance whilst I was at University but now I felt it was time to start building my own No Claims Discount (for future cash saving). I'm 22 and still count as a “young driver”, so with no NCD I knew it was going to hurt. It ended up at £56 per month (£668 per year – almost what I paid for the car!).

These ongoing costs have all been added to my budget (which I'll mention in a later post) so I knew I could just about afford them alongside saving money, but I just wondered how much I'd be spending overall on the car this year...

Initial purchase: £750
Insurance: £56/month (£668/year)
Fuel: £20/week (£1040/year – OUCH!)
Tax: £215

So even before any repairs, next year's MOT, oil, de-icer, screen wash, car parking money, etc., the grand total is: £2673!

When I first calculated this I couldn't believe it and had to add it all up again in the vain hope of an error! Sadly this was not the case. I'll definitely be using some hypermiling techniques to get the most of my fuel! 

It's just so frustrating that I have to try that much harder to save money in other areas just to get to work safely and in less than 2 hours!

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