Stop Washing Your Car So Much And Save Cash

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Expensive Car Wash
© – JurgaR

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I know it's tempting to get your car washed every two weeks or even every week. Rolling up to work or a restaurant in your shiny clean car is fun. However, the bills can quickly add up and keep you from saving money for your down payment. Below are my tips and strategies I have personally used to reduce expenditures at the car wash and additionally keep my car shiny and clean.

How I'm Saving $309 Per Year At The Car Wash

I used to go the car wash every two weeks. Each time, I would get the "silver" package for $20 dollars and tip them another $3 dollars. This adds up to an astounding $598 in car wash bills each year. Now, I visit the car wash every three weeks and elect for the "gold" package for $15 dollars and tip $2 dollars. This costs me only $289 per year with a net savings of $309 dollars per year, not too bad. This is real money that I can use for my mortgage down payment savings.

Cheap Package Vs. Expensive Package

Now that I am getting the cheap package I honestly cannot tell the difference. It seems that the cheap and expensive packages are exactly the same. At some car washes, I know they will not use tire dressing if you get the cheap package but will if you get the expensive package. I still suggest getting the cheap package and then purchasing your own tire dressing and applying it once you get home. A great place for all your car care needs is Griot's Garage. Do yourself a favor and don't get talked into paying more money because the car wash will end up being the same.

Keep Your Tips Under Control

Tipping is the right thing to do and I fully endorse it. At the same time, keep your goals in mind and make sure not to over tip. Many people (myself included) end up tipping too much. it's fun to tip because you feel good about rewarding a job well done, whether it be at the car wash or restaurant. However, think rationally through each tipping decision and know that at the end of the year all your tipping can add up to hundreds of dollars that could have been saved toward your down payment.

DoTake Great Care of Your Car

Just because I am avoiding the car wash and going every three weeks instead of two does not mean I am taking bad care of my car. My car is one of my biggest investments and I want it to last me a very long time and also retain as much of its value as possible. Since I am saving for a house, my finances are going to be tied up for a very long time. That means I will most likely be stuck with my car for the next 10 to 15 years. In order to make sure my car keeps its great look, I have a few suggestions:

  • Get a car cover to keep your car clean. If you need to park outside a lot, you can reduce your car wash frequency by covering your car. Not only do covers protect against dirt and keep your car clean, but they also protect the paint from harmful sunlight and rain damage. A great place to buy a car cover is Griot's Garage. A good cover will easily cost you all of your $309 savings for the first year but is well worth it if you will be owning your car for a long time. Over time, it will pay you dividends in terms of your car's value and after you have paid off the cover via one year's worth of fewer car washes, you will make infinite returns going forward into the second year and beyond.
  • Park in covered parking if possible. Whether at work or at home, it's much better to keep your car covered to keep it clean and also protect it from sunlight and rain damage. If your garage is being used for storage, why not get rid of your extra stuff at a garage sale for cash and then safely store your car in your garage. This is a situation where you win twice! The less you park your car outside, the less you need to take it to the carwash.
  • Wash your own car. I live at an apartment and don't have access to a hose to wash my car. If you do, this could be a great weekend activity to work on your tan, get some exercise, and save money. Just be careful that you use only soaps, towels, and materials especially formulated for car washing. Otherwise, you may damage your car. Nobody can do a better job of caring for your car than yourself.

Going Less May Actually Help Your Car

Ok, first off you can tell a lot of articles on this site are about cars. That's because I really enjoy cars. Hopefully I'm not boring you too much with car advice. Second, wanted to close out this article with a final thought: going to the car wash less may be better for your car. Why? We have all seen black cars that show their "swirl" marks. The reason for this is too many car washes. Each time you go to the car wash, there are going to be small scratches left on the paint finish from drying your car, especially because the rags they use are not top notch car car quality. If you go less only when your car really needs it, you will probably have fewer swirl marks on your car in addition to more money in your bank account.

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