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Five tips to keep your car and budget running lean

(Money Talks News) — The Cash For Clunker or CARS program helped many American’s into the driver’s seat of a brand new, more gas-efficient car.

Screen shot 2009-10-14 at 6.22.52 AMOn August 24th, the program ended taking nearly 700,000 clunkers America’s roads.  Congress set aside $3 billion to run the program and as of 8pm on the deadline, $2.877 billion were submitted.

“This is the final curtain call for a program that took the entire nation by storm and succeeded beyond expectations,” said Secretary LaHood. “There can be no doubt that this program drummed up more business, for more people, in more places, at a time when our economy needed help the most” LaHood adds.

If you didn’t take advantage of the CARS program, you can still make the best of whatever you’re driving now by staying on the road to savings.

Here are five quick ways to get you started and keep you going.  The first tip may not be easy, but it is simple:

  1. Drive that car longer. Every month you keep that fully-paid-for ride saves the payments you’d be paying on a new car: if that’s $500 bucks a month, that’s six grand a year.
  2. When you do buy, buy used. Even a nearly new and warranteed “Certified Pre-owned” car will save you thousands over brand-new.
  3. Always buy what you can afford: total car expenses, including gas, insurance and maintenence… should be below 20% of your take-home pay.
  4. Reassess your insurance needs. Consumer Reports recommends dropping coverage if the annual auto insurance premiums are 10% or more of the book value of your car.
  5. Never buy your car accessories from the dealer. Go for the after-market car stereos, wheels and roof-racks at a local store.

Bottom line? There are tons of ways to save on cars. Make sure you’re using them all: obey the budget police and pull your spending over.

Stacy Johnson

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