8 Great Reasons to Start a Car Maintenance Budget & How to Figure out How Much You’ll Need

I woke up this morning and I had run out of coffee, my car would not start, and I was 15 minutes late to work. So the day was off to a great start! 🙂 Not everything in life goes as planned (no matter how dang hard I try!!), so it’s important to prepare for the unexpected. Thank goodness I have a car maintenance budget that helps me streamline and reduce the financial burden of auto repair. It was the silver lining to my rather cloudy day to know fixing my car was in my budget.

8) Your Car is Going to Need Maintenance

Your car will need maintenance, even if it is brand new. You will still need to change the oil, the spark plugs, the tires, the windshield wipers, and the transmission fluid on a regular basis. Some of these will be fairly inexpensive, some will be several hundred dollars and this doesn’t even include unexpected break downs. There is also legal requirements such as registration, and smog or other yearly checks in some states.

7) You Will Have Less to Worry About

Having a car maintenance plan is like building your own personal safety net. It is comforting to know that if something comes up, you’re prepared. You won’t have to dip into your vacation money, or sell a prized possession just to ensure you make it to work for the rest of the week. You’ll sleep easier knowing all your ducks are in a row

6) You Won’t be Able to Spend it on Something Else

If you are anything like me, you are always tempted to go a little crazy when you see your account balances rise. You start to feel comfortable diverting what would have gone into savings to going out instead, because it’s just this one time and you already have a good cushion for yourself! Right? Well that may be true, but what if that next day your check engine light comes on? Now that money you felt comfortable spending last night, is weighing heavy on your shoulders. Keeping a Car Maintenance fund separate from your normal checking and savings accounts means you are less likely to spend it on something else. This doesn’t mean you have to open a new account, I keep my fund in a cookie jar. Out of sight, out of mind, out of your wallet. Consider this fund to be money already spent.

5) The Financial Burden Will be Less

What sounds more painful, giving up a few Starbucks runs to save $20 a week or unexpectedly having to charge $300 on your credit card? Avoid the lump sum (and the interest) by taking a small portion from each check and adding it to your Maintenance fund. Stay in and cook an extra night a week, or learn how to make your own frozen coffee. In the end you’ll be thankful you did when you get the bill from your mechanic

4) Your Savings will be Safe (and your vacation!)

I can’t stress this enough. You have to learn how to be prepared for the unexpected, if you expect to grow your savings. If you are trying to go on vacation, but a new computer, a new car, a new home, retirement, heck a new pair of heels – you need to grow your savings consistently and intentionally. You need to safeguard your savings with a cushion for the unexpected. Nothing hurts more than finally saving up enough for the new luggage you’ve been eyeing for 6 months, only to find you have to buy 4 new tires and the luggage has to wait.

3) Your Family will Think You’re Super Responsible

And you are!! I am 28 years old, and one of the best feelings I have is when I talk to my parents about something that came up and without thinking about it turn down their offer to reimburse me. My family are all so sweet and so generous, they are always willing to help and I love them so much for that. But anytime I’ve had to rely upon them it’s with a twinge of remorse that I needed the help. Being able to stand on your own two feet is a great feeling, and it’s even better when your parents say “good job!”

2) Your Car will be Clean and Well Cared for

Planning out your anticipated Car Maintenance ensures your car will continue to run smoothly for many years to come. You can also budget to include a regular car wash, to ensure she stays beautiful on the outside too! Not washing your car can damage the paint and even lead to rust and corrosion over time, so this is a great thing to include in your budget.

1) You Can Spend Money on Going Out Guilt Free!

Ok, so you have a healthy balance in your checking account, you’ve got a sizeable cushion growing in your savings account, and you’re caught up on funding your car maintenance. Now you can divert that small chunk of money from your savings to a nice night out with friends or loved ones, or for the new dress you have saved on Amazon. Oh! Or the luggage you had to give up for new tires! Maybe a manicure! The possibilities are endless, and now they’re guilt free. So live it up!

How to Start Your Own Car Maintenance Fund

Identify Your Needs

First identify the maintenance you anticipate over the next 1, 3, or 5 years. HERE is a list of everything you should expect to repair, replace, or update over the life span of your vehicle as well as the approximate cost.

Budget

Based on the needs we identified in step one, determine the total funds you’ll need in the 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. One you’ve determined how much you’ll need over each 6-month period, divide this by 24 to determine the weekly amount you should be saving.

Just Do It

You’ve done the planning. You know what you need to do. It might seem hard at first to take away some spending money, but remember – it will be worth it! So, take a deep breath and tuck the funds away some where safe. If you are able to increase this savings, even by just a dollar or two, by working overtime or when you receive a raise or bonus – do it! You’ll be ahead of the game, and that’s always a good idea

Reflect and Reconcile

It’s a good practice to review your finances in general, and this is even truer when you’ve made a change to your budgeting. Take a few moments once a month or so to compare what you have saved versus the budget you laid out. How are you progressing in meeting your goal? Have you had to dip into the fund? What expenses have you incurred, are they more or less than you anticipated?

CLICK HERE to download my worksheet to help you plan, budget, and reconcile your Car Maintenance Fund and check back again soon for more great tips!

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