What’s Our Biggest Finance Worry? Not Our House, Not Our Jobs, But Our Cars
With the economy down and money increasingly scarce, UK consumers stress about finance burdens us greatly. But a recent survey by Auto Trader magazine had surprising results about the biggest source of stress for most Britons – it’s our auto expenses.
Of the over 2,200 UK drivers surveyed by Auto Trader UK, 63% list running their car as their primary finance concern – more so even than house payment or job continuity – compared to the 41% that prioritised mortgage as their top concern. When I first heard this, it seemed unfathomable, but after more thought, it makes sense.
Our cars get us to work – most Britons prefer driving to work over public transport – three times more of us drive than take buses or trains to our jobs. And without proper transport, we would lose our jobs and then lose our ability to pay rent or mortgage, so it makes sense.
Many survey respondents say they are looking for cars that are cheaper to run because of the rising costs of fuel and newer cars being more efficient. Although fuel costs had a slight drop recently, 82% of survey participants say petrol costs are still a major finance concern. 67% of those surveyed consider auto insurance an onerous expense also.
Of new car owners that responded, 32% said they selected their purchase to save on fuel, tax or insurance cost. Some of the most popular models now – both new and used – are smaller, more fuel-efficient autos like the Supermini and the family-friendly VW Golf.
Group Strategy Director at Auto Trader, Tim Peak said, “UK drivers love small cars, with good reason. Supermini and family models tick many boxes for motorists. From a financial point of view, not only are they affordable and fuel efficient, but on a practical level, smaller cars are generally easier to drive and park.”
What’s more, owners of more modest cars may have less stress over running costs according to auto comparison site Motoring, that says the least reliable autos are prestige brands. These require more frequent and expensive repairs and are also petrol-greedy to run. Not great for our finance picture. Among the more problematic and expensive cars to keep on the road are the Mercedes-Benz SL, CL, S-Class and V-Class, Land Rover Range Rover, BMW 7 Series and the Renault Espace.
Even if you own a smaller, more fuel-friendly model, I still see why we’re all stressing over the cost of running our cars. The Daily Mail reported that average monthly mortgage repayment is around £494 currently for an annual total of roughly £6,000 – and finance expert Martin Lewis said last month the average cost of running a new car in the UK is about the same – £6,000 annually.
Lewis says that even with the recent u-turn on added fuel duties, the “cost of driving is one of the single biggest issues affecting people’s finances today.” He recommends easing your stress and financial burden of auto ownership using these tips:
1) Make sure your photocard is valid. Even if your licence is valid, if your photo is not, you can face an £1,000 penalty.
2) Comparison shop auto insurance from at least two different websites such as Gocompare and MoneySupermarket.
3) Avoid parking tickets and if you do get one you believe is unfair, challenge them to your council. Half of all ticket challenges taken to the Independent Traffic Penalty Tribunal are awarded to the driver.
4) Drive more efficiently to lower petrol costs by 30%. Accelerating slower, changing sooner to higher gears and trying to brake less often by selecting road lanes cleverly can drastically lower fuel usage and ease finance stress.
5) Save on petrol by making sure your tyre pressure is correct and use petrolprices.com to find the cheapest forecourt. Buying petrol with a credit card with cashback can also help, but only if you pay off in full each month so you don’t tack interest and finance costs on to the cost of fuel.
6) Use a council-run centre for your MOT. Cars checked there get less fails than at garages that may be trying to soak you for repairs.
7) Don’t pay private “tickets.” If you get a ticket on your auto from a housing estate, shop or other private institution, it’s not a ticket with any teeth behind it. As long as it’s not from the council or police, don’t pay it and send them a letter stating why you disagree. The only way they can collect is to take you to court and have a judge rule which is typically not worth their trouble.
In addition to all of these finance tips, if you’re due a refund for a payment protection insurance (PPI) claim, consider investing in a newer car to lower your running costs. Spending your refund on an asset that is so important (and stressful) to you can be a great way to lower your monthly expenses and stimulate the economy, so it’s a win for everyone!
Empire Claims is the #1 choice for recovering money you are owed for PPI products, bank and credit card charges. Their No Win No Fee philosophy means you don’t pay a penny if they don’t win your claim. If you believe you’re owed a claim from your bank, lender or other creditor contact Empire Claims to get help right away!