Money saving tips

Our quick guide to shedding the pounds

Our quick guide to shedding the pounds with the AA's credit crunch-busting diet

Our quick guide to shedding the pounds with the AA's credit crunch-busting diet

Many of us are still pulling tight on the purse strings in the current climate but we often forget that every time we get behind the wheel of a car, we have the potential to save a lot of money.

And you don't have to be driving a hybrid or electric car to enjoy decent savings.

Here's our quick guide to shedding the pounds with the AA's credit crunch-busting diet:

Saintly to save

Look in any list of money saving tips for motorists and you'll be urged to stick to the limits and drive smoothly. Well, we all know we should, but how many of us have actually worked out the savings?

How much you save will depend on how keen you are to get your motoring budget in shape, but the bottom line is that if you do 12,000 miles a year,  a £200 saving is achievable for a 'budget couch potato', while a 'budget fitness fanatic' could slash £400 off their motoring costs.

Just remember, the harder you press your right foot, the more money you burn!

Speeding is often futile too – just think of the hare and the tortoise – as many of us will have experienced overtaking someone, only to hit traffic and watch them pootle up behind us. What did we gain?

Shop to save

It's not just behind the wheel where you can gain. Running a car is usually the second biggest household expense, so the scope for saving money is huge – everything from insurance to servicing to fuel.

Follow our advice and shop around online for all these services and watch the savings pour in. For example, you can save up to a third off your car insurance by phoning around or going on the web – this equates up to an extra £240 in your pocket for a few minutes work!

If you're an AA member it's worth having a look at our motoring, travel and leisure discounts too.

Share to save

It goes without saying that the easiest way to cut your motoring costs, is simply to use your car less by doing things like combining short trips and walking or cycling rather than driving.

While they may not be practical for all, other options are:

  • Car sharing – many employers operate schemes for employees but there are also various local and national ones like Liftshare.
  • Home working – it's never been easier to work from home thanks to advances in technology and it offers flexibility and productivity benefits for both employee and employer. If you worked from home once a week, the fuel saving alone would be around £90 on average over the course of a year.
  • Hitchhiking – often overlooked but it's the cheapest form of transport and the 'greenest' form of road transport. Sensible precautions should be taken, though, like hitching in pairs and informing a friend or relative of your route. And harness technology to stay safe – when you get into a car, announce "I'm just going to text the registration number to my partner" or whoever.
Simon Calder

Simon Calder

Simon Calder, travel writer and broadcaster, says: "I've been hitching for the past 40 years, minimising my carbon footprint, saving cash and meeting thousands of kind, interesting motorists. It's a concept that should be back in fashion – and out on the road lifts seem to be getting easier. Or maybe that's because I no longer wear a Belgian Army greatcoat and long hair."

Service to save

We know from our AA/Populus Panel survey that some drivers are cutting back on servicing to save money but this is a false economy, as more expensive faults may develop. For example, a timing belt may cost £150 to repair but a new engine as a result of neglect could cost £3,000.

Our advice is that drivers shouldn't cut back on major services, especially oil changes and timing belts, and to save money instead by shopping around reputable garages – always remember to get a quote for the work in advance.

Breakdowns are also expensive and disruptive, so breakdown cover provides peace of mind and good value for money when you consider that the cost of calling out a garage in the event of a breakdown is around £90 per time on average, with much higher charges when the vehicle could not be fixed and had to be recovered.

Study to save

Advanced driver training can help trim 10-15% off your fuel bill but a fuel-efficient driver is also a safer driver. Newly-qualified drivers are most at risk, so the AA Charitable Trust has been offering free driver training to those who've passed their test within the last 12 months.

(22 November 2011)