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auto and cars

Cars are wonderful machines in terms of their ability to put up with screaming kids, those messy chip packets and travel mugs, and us stressed-out mums singing the wrong words to great songs day-in day-out. My car is amazing at coping with what I throw at it daily and, like many other mums’ cars, my car, is a little trooper.
But my car won’t give out those luxuries cheaply and here’s why:
Anything as wonderful as a machine that can get me, (the mum) and her children from A to B every day, 365 days a year, for many years – costs money and bags of that happy green stuff. But even though cars cost a lot of money, there are many ways mums like me can get super sneaky. We can make small changes to make massive savings on running our cars, so it costs less for the luxury these little troopers afford us daily.
Here are 8 ways you can make this happen a.s.a.p!

Hot tips for saving big on car insurance this year

1. Become a better driver

Keep the cops off your tail and reap the benefits of cheaper premiums. If you think you are pretty good behind the wheel and you have an excellent incident-free driving record increasing your excess will reduce your premium.

2. Pay your insurance annually

Monthly insurance payments are often more.

3. Pick the right make and model

Yeah – driving an extra rare super fast sports car will cost you more than a Ford with a nifty bunch of safety features.

4. Don’t let your kids drive your car

Drivers under 25 will up your premium. Get them to catch the bus until their 25th birthday or save for their own car and the associated costs of having one.

5. Think about where you are living

If you live near a high accident zone (a highway prone to cars coming off it) or thieves and vandals you will pay more. If you do secure your alarmed car in a garage that has an alarm and you’ll pay less.

6. Get good at maintenance

Maintain and service your car regularly as your policy is unlikely to cover you for mechanical faults or tyre damage due to neglect. Yeah – you know that tyre? The one you keep pumping up that always seems to be a lower gauge than the rest? Drive down to the tyre shop and get it fixed. Do it today.

7. Make your car as safe as possible

Install an alarm and immobiliser. Anything you add like this will reduce your premium. Just calling around insurance agencies and answering their questions will give you a good idea of what you need to do to get your premiums down.

8. Become a bundle-it-up freak

It’s always cheaper to bundle. But make sure you shop around for those bundles too. Shop around and compare policies using online comparison sites.
Got some great tips on how to save on car insurance? Please leave them in the comments below.

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Present cars are already pretty smart, but future cars are going to be amazing! Currently a car will get you out of a rut on a rainy day and drive you to an ocean, rainforest or the local fish and chip shop for some oily solace. Cars are wonderful machines packed with reasons to jump in – ranging from visiting friends, getting space from the kids or offering up an arena to let that little voice, the Opera singer inside you, out!
Well – if you think this moving-chunk-of-metal is good in terms of the lifestyle it affords you, check out how changes in technology have made your blessed beast the amazing machine it is.

1. Design and assembly

Once upon a time the humble vehicle was made by hand. Take Henry Ford for example. It took him five years to develop his original Model A, using assembly stands on which the whole vehicle was built by a team of trades. Yes it was tedious back then. He could probably envisage future cars back then. But could he have known there would be computers in factories sitting up late into the night scribbling out components, techy specs, body parts, paint colors, interior assembly plans and chassis systems? It’s hard to say. But Henry Ford would be happy to know that there is still a little old-fashioned play in the mix. Industrial plasticine or clay is still actually used to construct either full-size or scaled-down models prior to production. Sounds like a fun job for an adult! But mostly assembly floors are run entirely by robots and other automated processes.
On this note, I often wish I could automate more processes in my life, such as putting dishes in the dishwasher and putting laundry in the machine, taking it out, folding it and putting it away.
I don’t think I’d be asking too much would I?
I’m picturing a future when us mums are living in homes with little robots walking ahead of us, doing pretty much everything apart from giving out cuddles. I can’t wait for that day. I hope I live to see it.
Then there’s my work, which requires that my brain does a big daily workout. If I had to think about making my car work too – I think I’d self-combust! So while I randomly drive my car around for school drop-offs and pick ups, petrol stops, trips to the supermarket and more – I’m happy my humble little car is doing the thinking for me.

Here are four ways your car is saving your brain so you don’t have to think as much

1. Engine Control Unit (ECU)

Cars have a little computer unit called an ECU or PCM (powertrain control module). Like your brain, this contraption communicates with the engine and determines how to make the thing run. Almost every engine function is delivered by the ECU, such as:

  • Horsepower
  • Torque
  • Air/fuel mix
  • Ignition timing

Future cars will do much more than this little list.
While it’s nice to know your car has a brain, unlike humans, it is actually a legal requirement to have one. While I don’t have someone knocking on my door once a year, checking my brain is working, your car does!
Yes – the ECU in a car needs to be updated and upgraded to run better.
Note: I am a firm believer humans need to do the same in terms of their brain because pretty much if you don’t use it – you’ll lose it. I recommend eating more fish and reading a book once a week as a humble start to keeping your brain ship-shape!
Anyway, by tweaking an ECU, you can alter the air to fuel ratio, horsepower and torque in order to boost the power and speed of your car. While you can do this yourself, the best way to optimise your ECU for improved engine performance, is to visit a specialist like www.pureperformancemotorsport.com .

2. Other onboard computers

My car isn’t the latest and greatest. You can read about escapades in my car here. So I have to do ‘old- fashioned’ tasks like park the thing myself (the good ole’ perfect parallel park my Dad taught me), use a key to open it, and adjust the seats myself!
I am looking forward to the day of future cars where I can get a miraculous moving computer network with a sophisticated system of controls and sensors for various functions like these:

  • Automatic transmission
  • Anti-lock braking system
  • Alarm and engine immobiliser
  • Climate control
  • Electric window central locking
  • Keyless entry
  • Motorised seats and mirrors (that can remember the settings for multiple drivers)
  • Automatic wiper control
  • Airbag control unit
  • Parking aid
  • Music centre
  • Mobile phone connectivity (with call and text capabilities)
  • Navigation
  • Cruise control systems

With this list – I could probably grab some shut-eye on the way to school drop-off – surely?

3. Servicing and maintenance

In the good old days nice people of the world would take their cars off to their local mechanic. I’m picturing an oily smelling guy in blue overalls with a rag hanging out of his pocket and a toothless smile. He’d sniff around under the hood, and skate under the car on his back, to determine the problem, solution and then the cost. He’d usually give me nice deal and I’d skip away happy.
But these days computers in present and future cars prevent breakdowns before they happen. If you think of your own car, usually these notification are the bunch of blinking lights on your dash that happen when you run out of water, oil and brake fluid. Not all at the same time hopefully.
Hell. You can’t do anything wrong in a modern car without it bleeping back at you. Modern mechanics are much more clean-shaven and they usually have all their teeth. They will simply check the car’s diagnostic information from the vehicle’s computer to pinpoint the exact problem, enabling fast and accurate repairs.
Note: Just so you know. The mechanic is the crisp looking guy holding a clipboard and ticking things off his list 🙂

4. What your future car might do

Here’s a short preview of a few of the ways your future car will save your brain. I’m sending this to my mother-in-law who road to school on a horse!

  • Communicate with other cars on the road
  • Drive itself
  • Reality dashboard
  • Airbags that help stop cars
  • Energy storing body panels
  • Pay for your Macca’s at Drive-Through

Computers sure have changed the world. I remember the days I wrote university essays in long hand and travelled the world without a mobile phone. Such freedom.
Next time you get in your car ask yourself – is my car smarter than me? What will future cars be like? Then thank your car for doing all the thinking for you – while you enjoy the ride.
Happy driving!

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I’ve had my share of rental car remorse. There was the time hubby and I were leaving town for good and hired a car for the last few days to get us through. We were just metres from the hire car company, parked at the lights, when BANG – a tradie in a ute slammed right up the back of us. It took us an entire six months to recover the excess money from the tradie (he was a good guy – but struggling for the cash) since we weren’t in town and he knew we couldn’t come knocking! And no. He wasn’t insured – so it hurt him too.
Believe me. There are plenty of hidden costs when hiring a car and I’m here to save you the heartache of going through an experience from hell like I did.

Here are three of the biggest ways a rental can exceed your expenses:

1. Insurance

Rental car insurance can be expensive. Insurance can range from $10-20 a day, which can add up if you are using the car for an extended period of time. Luckily, many credit card companies can act as insurance for your car at no extra cost. Just be aware that some credit cards have limited or non-existent coverage, so call and check first whether yours does. Many credit card companies do not cover the cost of damage to the car, and even if they do, some do not cover the fees incurred by the rental company. If you need legal advice, go to professionals like the Motor Accident Legal Service who can provide legal assistance if you get yourself in a bind like I did!

2. Drivers

If you happen to have a partner or a younger person driving your rental car, this can cost more. If you or the person driving the car is under 25 years old prices go up considerably. A few years ago, most companies didn’t allow people under 21 to drive rental cars, and while most do now, these age groups face higher fees and they are assessed daily. Each additional driver adds to the price, even if they are over 25. Be conservative when deciding who will drive the car. The less drivers the better.

3. Extra fees

There are a host of extra fees incurred too. Read the fine print!
Some of these include:

  • Prohibiting the use on unpaved roads. Stick to bitumen!
  • Collision damage waivers
  • Filling up the fuel tank upon return. If you don’t they’ll charge you their petrol fees, which will be higher!
  • Extras like navigation equipment and car seats. Bring your own!

Above all, know what you’re getting into and know exactly what you’re paying for. Research well and prepare ahead of time for your trip. With this in mind, you can drive your rental car knowing that if someone slams into your rear, like what happened to me, you are covered!

Bonus Tip

Always spend more to reduce the excess you would need to pay should you have an accident.

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Petrol prices are on the rise. It usually costs around $70 to fill up my humble Ford Focus at the bowser, but yesterday it cost me $80! That’s a pretty significant jump in a few weeks. According to ABC News’ latest report they are set to soar this year and we’ll be getting more pain at the pump!
It’s a good thing that each year’s crop of new cars are getting more efficient to help ease the discomfort we are all feeling from these money-sucking bowsers. But then there’s the whole issue of how you drive your car. The proposed mileage your car salesperson may have sold you, will not hold nearly as much weight if you are burning people off at the lights and driving at full speed down a highway when you could ease off a little and jump into the slow lane.
Here are five simple tips you for slashing your gas bill and getting more bang for your buck!

1. Lighten the load!

If you are a mum like me you may be guilty of this one. I often use my car as a spare room. In fact, I practically live in my car as my life as mum and taxi driver. Then there’s my weekend clean outs – so I’ll often have bags of stuff in the back of my car designated for the op shops. Then there’s the pram and gear for the beach during summer.
Yes. It is convenient to keep stuff in my car – but lugging all that stuff around can get heavy so I’ve become more conscious of taking the really heavy stuff out. So the pram is now out and the stuff for the op-shops gets dropped off that day!
Options include taking all that stuff out or buying a car that actually weighs less than my Ford Focus, as opposed to say – a Land Rover.
Bonus tip: Also avoid putting cargo on your roof to avoid aerodynamic drag and boost efficiency!

2. Lose your idle habits

Leaving your car running when it’s parked is a great way to burn unnecessary fuel. Check out my article on 10 ways to burn cash with your car and you’ll get the picture! Idling can use up to almost two litres of fuel per hour, depending on the size of your car’s engine and whether or not you leave the air-conditioner blasting. Make a habit of turning your car off when it’s parked. That’s the whole point of parking it!

3. Go easy on the pedals

Let’s compare the difference between cost-effective driving and hammering like a crazy heavy-footed gas-guzzling maniac! Sure. You can be assertive on the road. You can do it with stickers, signage and hand signals if you like. But slamming on the brakes and overtaking vehicles just for the fun or in a pent-up road-rage fury is not only silly – but it is expensive! So easy off the accelerator, gear-down instead of brake and take it a bit slower and you’ll find your car will feel the love in terms of less wear and tear and better fuel economy. Be nice to your car and it will repay you in cash!

4. Stick to the speed limit

Try to avoid being a ‘need to speed’ type. I usually catch up with most people who pass me at the next set of lights. Sure – people call me ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ but my car is a place of peace, happiness and relaxation! Those speed-demons really should try it, because driving around like a maniac actually makes a person feel more aggressive. So use cruise control, stick within the speed limit, drive at a consistent speed and enjoy the ride! You’ll probably get to your destination within the same timeframe and you’ll get there with more money in your pocket and that’s a great reason to slow down!

5. Consolidate your trips

At the end of a long day at work most people just want to get home and relax. In the evening they might head out again and run errands like doing a grocery shop or checking a post box. But stop! Try to consolidate your trips and run those errands on the way home. Remember – every time you get in that money-sucking machine you are taking money out of your bank account. Make a list of your errands. Actually I keep an ‘out and about’ checklist on Trello. That way when I am out in my car – I make sure all my ‘out and abouts’ are done in one go. This not only saves money in terms of petrol but also makes my life easier by doing my tasks in bulk and consolidating your trips!
These are just a few simple steps you can take to put more cash in your stash. Be sure to check out my Auto and Cars section to learn more driving habits you can adopt to save time and money. Happy driving!
 

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We are a laid-back bunch here in Australia. We love to arrive at parties in the latest and greatest car, consume platters of food and copious amounts of  alcohol while standing around a BBQ discussing our beautiful home and latest renovation projects. We are a lucky country but it is actually quite astonishing to look at the facts about how Australian’s are actually paying for this premium lifestyle.

What’s the damage?

Recently the Reserve Bank of Australia released it’s latest stats on just how Aussies are paying and the humble credit card is to blame! In total us Aussies owe the banks $50,126,000,000 in credit card debt. Woah….now, that’s a huge cost for a little lifestyle indulgence!

How many cards exactly?

Even more astonishing is the number of Aussies who own credit cards! These average out at around 15,000,000 equating to 28% of us walking around with a little plastic fantastic in our wallets.

State credit card culprits

And if you really want to get down to the nitty gritty – let’s take a look by State! Our biggest spenders are our friends in Western Australia and Queensland. Households in these areas have an average balance of around $4000!

And as for age?

People between the age of 35-44 are the biggest spenders with an average balance of around $4000 too.

What about me?

But not me. Oh no. I do not fit into any of these categories because Mrs Smarty-Pants-Me cut up her last credit card in 2004! That’s right. That was the last time in my life I ever owned a credit card and I’m very proud of it. I’m a Debit Card lover myself.

Just how naughty this nation has been

Check out this fab infographic, which gives an awesome visual portrait of just how naughty we’ve been as a nation! Sure get’s one thinking….
Australias Alarming Credit Card Addiction
This infographic was supplied by Fox Symes

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Cheap car insurance is a noble goal but firstly I wish to discuss why my car is such a wonderful machine. Though it is a modest Ford Focus (and not my dream car – yet) it is as good as a holiday or any home-away-from-home a busy working mother can get.

Why I love my car so much

My car is a place to be ‘me’ in. I can throw chip packets on the floor and leave coffee cups lying around it if I so desire. And I do! Just because I can! No one in my family is ‘auditing’ my car the way a family might audit a mum for a dirty bench or not-quite-white-enough socks.

Vintage Housewife

Source: Pinterest


I also love my car for the rest and relaxation my car grants me. My car is the one place (apart from my writing desk) where I am forced to sit down. There aren’t any dishes to do in my car or loads of laundry to hang out. I don’t have to pick up other people’s stuff in my car or walk up and down my car delivering bags to rooms or towels to bathrooms.

I can sing in my car!

My car is also a place to sing. I can sing loudly at my leisure in my car. Even if I am annoying people in my car with my singing, I can still keep singing because it is my car and I can do whatever I want it in it.

Singing in a car

Source: Lastlemon (Pinterest)


As a mum, my car is the one ‘thing’ in my life I totally own – that is mine. My kid can’t grab my car and try to drive it – unless he or she had the keys (which he or she can’t reach). He or she cannot steal my car from under my bottom and claim it as his or her own – the way my iPad is not quite mine (NQM), nor are the drawers where my socks and cosmetics live.
These items and common places are just too much fun for my three-turning-thirty and my curious eight-turning-eighty.
(Note: Did you know that an eight year old in this era has absorbed as much information as an eighty year old did 100 years ago? I digress…)
Apart from my car – she (my three-year-old) owns most other stuff in my life. She (the cat’s daughter!) owns all the rooms in my house and their contents. She owns the kitchen (fridge, pantry and cupboards), the laundry (washing baskets and pegs), all the bedrooms and bathrooms, and the backyard and shed (if she manages to sneak access somehow).
My eight-year-old also has dibs on numerous items and areas in the home. He (the cat’s son) sticks to other more curious belongings such as my headphones, my phone chargers, my computer (when I’m not on it), my stationary drawer (especially those rechargeable batteries) and more recently my little cash drawer I didn’t know, he knew, existed.
You name it – these kids have got dibs on everything in my life.
Everything… except my car.
Source: Ethereal Thoughts on Pinterest

Source: Ethereal Thoughts on Pinterest

But I’m not always in love with my car and here’s why

There are certain times of the month, quarter and year (the rego bill) that I don’t love my car as much for the escapism my car affords me and here’s why:

1. Filling up is costing me in lipstick!

Firstly, once a month I stop at a servo and fill my baby up (the Focus) and those rising petrol prices haven’t been pretty lately.

How on Earth can a girl afford lipstick if her money is being sucked down a petrol pump?


2. Creeps keep creeping insurance prices up

Secondly, I’m not too chuffed about the rising cost of insurance, which I’ve taken ‘a mental note of,’ while digging around my bank accounts online. More specifically I’m not very happy with the way I always have to keep an eye on those car insurance premiums, which seem to magically creep up without any approval from moi – the lady with the purse. 
I’m the lady with the purse! Yes I am!
I consider this pilfering (a little like my kid sneaking one of my rechargeables), so then I got all obsessed with car insurance and went hunting for some facts on the subject.
While I’m on the topic here’s a great article to help you reduce those premiums10 Lesser-Known Ways of Cutting Auto Insurance Costs


3. The interesting facts I dug up about car insurance in Australia

I found these facts to be quite staggering, specifically the number of cars being stolen within three months of purchase each year, which is 14,340! Woah…glad I’ve been obsessed with locking my Ford Focus up…. Still. These facts don’t justify the ridiculous cost of insurance premiums.
Thank goodness I’ve been locking my car!

Car Insurance Facts Australia

Source: Compare Insurance


4. Cars are costing me in missed facials and massages

The other reason I don’t love my car is the cost of running it! According to the Commonwealth Bank the average Aussie is paying $3854 on running and maintaining their car each year! Well, not exactly for me because I am a very frugal woman. I live in a regional area where I don’t sit much at traffic lights and I don’t really pay for parking. But still – those costs sure add up.
And here’s the most amazing fact of all!


5. Most Aussies are spending their dollars when they are NOT in the car!

Expense 1: Lollies and chips at the Servo

Most Aussies aren’t actually spending that money on the car but rather the associated costs with driving a car – like buying chips and lollies at the servo! According to the following infographic we are a chips, lollies and drinks-on-the-run loving nation with service station expenses being the number one cost for motorists across all states and territories!
Who would have thought that chips and lollies are the biggest car expense!
This is astounding but not surprising. As I’ve mentioned over and over modern marketing is highly focused on time-poor people in a hurry who didn’t eat breakfast on their way out the door.
You gotta get fed somewhere right? And admittedly, those servo coffees are cheap at $1 each!

Expense 2: Parking

The next biggest expense for most Aussies is parking and garages, coming in at around $125 each year.


Other interesting facts in the following infographic

Here are the stats on what each state is spending the most on:

  • NT: Vehicle Maintenance $918
  • QLD: Service Stations $1713
  • WA: Parking $125
  • TAS: Auto Associations and Breakdowns $561
  • ACT: Insurance Costs $527
  • NSW: Tolls $336

Drumroll…And here’s the infographic!

Cost of car maintenance

Source: Commbank Signals


Why I spend my time creating cheat sheets!

And all of the above is exactly why I spend my spare time putting together cheat sheets to help me and my readers cut to the chase when it comes to saving money on cars!
Check out my article: 180+ essential tips for saving on cars and petrol.
Gas savings | 180+ tips for saving on cars and petro
In this cheat sheet you will find valuable tips on how to save on vehicle maintenance, car accessories, insurance and buying a car.
Read more to access all the tips i