How to save money on car insurance

No, this isn’t an ad for GEICO, but I came across a recent article in Real Simple about car insurance which reminded me that even after you have selected a low cost provider, you can still save money. Today, I will discuss what I did and what you can, too, to save on car insurance.

In the article, one of the tips mentioned was determining if you are eligible for a low mileage discount. In layman’s terms, if you don’t actually drive your car a lot, for whatever reason, you should let your insurance company know. In our case, we drive the car approximately 40/miles a week, which is a strong argument for NOT OWNING A CAR, but that’s another matter. We are lucky enough to have accessible public transportation options. The point is, in a year, we’ll drive our car only ~ 2500-3000 miles, factoring in the occasional road trip. From an insurance perspective, we don’t drive the car much, therefore, we reduce the risk of accident. Translation: lower risk = lower cost. There might be some other mathematics, too, in that equation.

After being reminded of this fact, I called my insurance company, which happens to be GEICO, and asked them how I could save money since I was shopping around. When I mentioned that we don’t drive our car often, that immediately triggered a significant $92/year savings after running their calculations. Excellent! Just a few minute read of some helpful advice and I was able to save money. That’s the power of information. You should see if your situation is similar.

How can you save money on car insurance?

save money

Forget the GEICO ad, but head over to an insurance quote search engine site, like Compare.com, Esurance, or Progressive and plug in your current policy features and see what kind of rate you can get. There’s a very good chance that you are overpaying. Other helpful, classic advice on this topic is “bundling” your insurance providers. If you have rental, homeowner’s, life, or some other insurance, see if you can add car insurance to that policy as well. You may be eligible for a discount based on “keeping it in the family.”

Saving money by not overpaying

Today, I was again reminded how important it is to be diligent to prevent being overcharged. Among the strategies for saving money on goods and services, this is by far the most important. This time, I was able to save money by not overpaying for a car rental from last weekend. There are a few lessons learned here, and some caution, for future third-party initiated travel purchases. Here’s the story that ultimately had a positive outcome.

This past weekend/part of this week, I was traveling for fun. We rented a car for five days which usually means you can get a discounted week-long rate. Rather than going directly to MAJOR CAR RENTAL company’s site, I used a third party site, Car Rental Savers (like an Orbitz) which I have used for saving money on car rentals before and had nothing but positive experiences in this past with them; so they are only part of the story, but not THE story. The rate I was quoted was about $180 for the 5 days we were there. Maine is pretty high demand this time of year, so those are the breaks because it was going to be about $40/day for an economy car.

Saving money AFTER you buysaving money

Fast forward to yesterday. We return the car and get the receipt for $310! What? We didn’t get a fuel option, extra insurance, GPS, or anything like that. We were trying to catch a plane, so I didn’t have time to argue with the price but knew I could call and straighten it out. Today, I called MAJOR RENTAL CAR company and asked them what the deal was. They were very appreciative of the situation and worked with me to diagnose the problem. I had my original reservation quote in front of me, which is always helpful for these types of negotiations. I noted the rate, reservation number, and through whom I booked the car. The customer service rep was baffled as to why my rate went up ~$20/day. And, he even thought the rate was too high to begin with that I was originally quoted. After some research, the only conclusion he had was to notate that I was overcharged and that I’d be refunded the difference. Sweet! Somewhere in the transaction threat there could have been a glitch, software update, something. The point is, don’t assume that what you were told you were going to pay is what you will ultimately end up paying. Trust, but verify.

My bottom line here is this: ALWAYS check your statements, daily, if you are making larger, abnormal purchases, and be quick to call, write, Tweet, email, Facebook, etc. customer service to straighten out a problem. Saving money for me meant not overpaying $130.

How to save money on transportation costs

Unless you are lucky enough to be able to bike or walk to school or work, you probably have car expenses, bus or subway fares, or both each month. Today, we are going to look at how you can save money on transportation costs, no matter what mode you travel on. I will discuss many conventional tips to save money, and a few off the beaten path.

Bike and foot transportation

While walking is free, your shoes aren’t. Get the best deal on shoes you can by doing some easy comparison using a common shopping search engine like Shopzilla. Same goes if you are looking to buy a bike, follow the same advice.

Car costs

Ok, maybe walking and biking aren’t part of your daily regimen but driving a car is. This gets a bit more fun. If you haven’t already visited GasBuddy or downloaded the app, you should. GasBuddy allows you to search for the lowest price of gas in your area. You might save a few cents off your tank of gas – any bit helps. Bonus tip, if you haven’t read my discussions about Fuel Rewards and other grocery store gas programs, you should. They offer additional suggestions and advice for using loyalty programs to help you save money. Next, if you don’t have a credit card that earns cash or miles back bonuses on gas purchases, I suggest you get one. For example, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card earns a 3% cash back bonus for gas station purchases. There are many other cards out there that have similar rewards, you might already have one and don’t know it. Finally, you can also save a bit on gas buying discounted gas station gift cards through Gift Card Granny.

Buses, trains, subways, or ferries

transportation

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/smaedli/

For the rest of us who don’t drive to work or school, there might be a public transit option. Again, if you are lucky enough to have access to a bus, train, light rail, or other means, here are few more tips. Your employer may offer a discounted transportation benefit program. This might be a pre-tax dollar savings or straight up subsidy. Either way, that’s awesome.

If you don’t have this benefit available to you, you are still in luck. Occasionally, Discover Card has 5% cash back bonuses during certain times of the year. This means that if you are buying a monthly or even daily fare card, you can save a bit of money on that. Bonus tip: you can earn points or cash back on your transportation expenses all year long with any credit card that earns points or cash back. You don’t have to wait for a quarterly bonus promotion.

And, last but not least, the unconventional tip. Just as Gift Card Granny offers discounted gift cards on retailers, eBay and Craigslist sell partially used fare cards – and it’s legal, at least in Washington, DC. If you know you are going to spend a few hundred a month on subway or bus rides, check eBay or Craigslist to see if anyone is trying to offload their partially used fare cards. You might be able to save a few bucks on metro cards.

There you have it. Chances are, if you need to travel for work, school, or play, you can save money.