I’ve mentioned that I’ve regretted getting a car loan. I also mentioned that we are planning on not being stuck with car payments for another 5 years. If you noticed from our net worth reviews we have 2 completely paid for cars at home. We don’t make six figures, but the great news is that we didn’t need that much to pay off the car loan.
Paying off the car loan didn’t happen by accident, we had a specific plan of attack. If you’re looking at getting rid of your car loan faster, I have some tips to get you two started.
Finding Money to Pay Off a Car Loan
Right now the average car loan is around $26,000 or about $400/month. That’s quite a bit of money, especially if you have other obligations like a mortgage or childcare. The first step in paying off the car loan is finding money in your budget. You’ve probably already heard of spending less than you earn. Let me show you how we did that exactly.
Create a Budget That Works
I will not tell you to track every penny by hand because let’s be honest – most people don’t do that. Instead I’ll recommend you use a free tool like Mint that will track your expenses for you and in 15 minutes you can create a budget that will help you reach your goals.
With Mint you can grab the data easily to see what you can adjust your spending. Here are some areas that we changed:
- Optimized our entertainment, phone, and internet bills.
- Upgraded our cell phone plan.
- Switched our auto insurance company.
- Eating out intelligently.
- Created a debt snowball plan( and use snowflakes to speed it up).
Optimized Our Cable, Phone, and Internet Bundle
Many times the deal they advertise on TV isn’t the best deal. We called Time Warner Cable to see if they could quote a better rate. Since they didn’t, we went ahead and created own bundle with Time Warner for limited cable and high speed internet and Skype for our land line number. The monthly costs went from around $140/month to $48/month.
Upgraded Our Cell Phone Plan
When we reviewed our bills we noticed that the cell phone bill was over budget. It was due to extra charges from going over the text plan. By spending $5/month to upgrade our text plan, we saved money. For you, it may be beneficial for to look at switching cell phone carriers.
Today there are several great options to help you slash your cellphone bill even more drastically. Republic Wireless offers of the cheapest smartphone plans out there for unlimited talk, text, and data. I signed up last year and have paid only $22/month, taxes and fees included. If you’re interested in using Republic Wireless and getting unlimited talk, text, and data, then sign up today.
Switched Auto Insurance
We were able to significantly cut our auto insurance premiums by switching providers. By using our Costco membership our car insurance premiums went from $118/month to $58/month. Since we have Executive membership at Costco, we also get free towing and jump starts included so we allowed our AAA to lapse and saved a bit more.
As you can see, we were about to save hundreds of dollars each year by looking at our car insurance options. If you’re pressed for time, but still want to shop around for the best rates on car insurance you use Go Insurance Rates. It’s extremely handy as you can get several quotes in spot and it’s free!
When you compare car insurance companies, have a copy of your current policy to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. I’d also ask from friends what they think of their insurance. Going with the cheapest may not be the smartest option, especially if they don’t provide the service you need when you need them the most.
Eating Out Intelligently
Completely giving up on eating out wasn’t going to work for us. So instead we decide to tweak it a bit and save some money. We look for happy hour deals around town. Some places here are some great food for $5 or less and drinks are half as well. If you don’t go overboard you can have a great evening without spending a ton of money. Another great plan is checking if your city has a restaurant week where you can get appetizer to dessert at some fantastic places for $20.
Snowflaked Extra Payments into the Car Payment Schedule
With the money saved, we used it to snowflake extra payment for the loan. We automated much of it to make sure that we stay with the payment plan. We also took any small wins, like selling items on Ebay. It didn’t matter how small the amount was, we went ahead and used our bank’s online bill pay feature to send in an extra $50 or $100 to the car loan in between payments.
In addition to the snowball payments, our tax refunds and stimulus check went to lower the principal.
Listened to Those Who Did It
Other couples have succeeded in paying off their car loans early. If you’re looking for some more stories to help keep you focused, here are some of my favorites:
Thoughts on Paying Off the Car Loan
I’d love to get your thoughts on cars and loans. How do you plan on buying your next car? If you’ve bought your car with cash, how did you save up for it?
Photo Credit: stevoarnold