Tips for Making Holiday Travel Budget Friendly

There is a ton of car congestion building up during the holiday season, as evident in our Thanksgiving travel recap last week. Sometimes, it is better to fly to your destination rather than brave the heavily-trafficked roads. This can get quite expensive, which is why we turned to guest blogger Shereen Travels Cheap to give us some tips on how to save money during the typically overpriced holiday season.

The holidays are stressful enough, so why make things worse with your holiday travel? By planning ahead, you can save money and frustration. You’ll be genuinely happy to see your family and friends instead of resentful that you had to spend so much to get there.

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Fly early.
If you’re worried about getting bumped (who doesn’t?) choose a flight earlier in the day. The first flights out have much lower chance of being delayed, plus many people don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn to go to the airport, making those flights a bit cheaper.

Travel on less desirable days.
Booking your travel during the holiday season is not super affordable, but you can reduce the sting by flying on the least busy days to get the best deals. When demand is low, so are fares. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays tend to be less expensive than other days, because the majority of people travel over the weekend. The airport is always packed on Thursdays and Fridays with people getting out of town and then on Sundays and Mondays coming back.

Book as far in advance as possible.
Under normal circumstances, the sweet spot for getting deals on domestic flights is between three and five weeks, but for the holidays, you’ll want to book as soon as you find an airfare deal. The closer to the holiday you get, the higher the airfare will be. There are almost never any last-minute price drops for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

Bring just a carry-on.
Many airlines, especially budget airlines, have upped their baggage fees. Do you really want to pay an extra $40 or more to bring your luggage along? (more…)

The Major Benefits of Driving Less (Infographic)

We recently released a report showing that Metromile test drivers who used our smart driving app to measure mileage and later switched to per-mile insurance ended up driving 6% less after the switch. This seemingly small reduction in driving can actually have a significant impact on our economy and environment, especially if everyone reduced their driving by this amount. To illustrate just how much of a positive effect this could have, we created an infographic to show all of the benefits. Check it out:
Drive Less Benefits Infographic

If you would like to dig a little bit deeper, you can check out our original report or the Brookings Institution’s report about pay-per-mile car insurance.

Get Schooled: How to Save Money When You Head Back to Class

Labor Day is upon us, which signifies the unofficial end of the summer and start of the school year. Even if this is your second (or third) time setting out to get a new degree, you still might experience the first-day-jitters, especially if you are moving to a new city. You also might be watching your wallet more closely – will you need to swap your cold-pressed juice for ramen? There are pros and cons to bringing your car to school with you, and while it provides a convenient way get around, it could also become quite costly. Follow these cost-saving car tips to maximize your savings during the school year.

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Get situated.
Before you start scheming ways to save money, you should get the logistics squared away. Let your car insurance company know that you have changed cities and head to the DMV to update your license and registration (only if needed). Drive around so you get a feel for the area and evaluate your parking situation near home and school. The last thing you need is a parking ticket! Waze is a great way to identify the best routes and understand the worst times to drive. You’ll be driving like a local in no time.

Scope out the transit situation.
Once you have a feel for your new city, you should check out the public transportation options. If you aren’t living near campus, your school will likely have a resource to help identify the best transportation methods in the area, whether it be a train or your school’s dedicated shuttle bus. Google Maps (and soon Apple Maps) will be your new best friend, showing you the best way to get from Point A to Point B via public transit. You should also see if there are student rates or if your school offers any public transportation discounts. Biking or walking to class are always great options as well!

Start re-filling the bank account.
If you realize that you are primarily using your car for monthly grocery runs and family visits, consider renting your car out using a peer-to-peer car rental service like Getaround or RelayRides. Getaround touts that car owners can earn $10,000 per year by renting out their car – that’s a good chunk of change to put towards student loans! And don’t worry about this interfering with your busy schedule. Getaround will take care all of the logistics, from scheduling rental times to providing a secure way for the renter to access your car. (more…)

Would You Drive Less If You Paid for Insurance by the Mile?

The following is a post from Jim Levinsohn, Director, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University, and George Mohler, Director of Data Science, Metromile

If you’re like most drivers, the answer seems to be “yes.”

We analyzed 191,699 trips made by Metromile customers who started out on a free test drive program and later switched to pay-per-mile insurance. (Each switcher had at least 30 days of driving before and after the switch). On average these individuals drove 16.4 miles per day before purchasing per-mile insurance. After switching, they drove on average 15.5 miles per day—a reduction of 6%.[1]

What’s going on here? It turns out that economics predicts exactly this outcome. When you buy traditional car insurance, you pay a fixed premium. That means that when you’re deciding whether or not to make a given trip, insurance cost doesn’t enter the calculation since that cost is invariant to whether or not you make the trip. You might consider the cost of gasoline and your time, because those costs increase if you make an extra trip, but not insurance costs. One consequence of traditional car insurance is that drivers with below average mileage in effect subsidize the premiums of drivers with higher mileage (an individual’s risk of an accident in a year increases with miles driven).

But when your car insurance is on a per-mile basis, the equation changes. Drivers with below average mileage start to save money, whereas drivers with above average mileage pay more. The less you drive, the lower your premium, so there’s a clear incentive to reduce your miles driven. In order to achieve the same incentive for reducing mileage, the tax on gasoline would need to be on the order of $0.74 per gallon! This is larger than the state gasoline tax in even the highest tax states. Simply changing the way insurance is priced has significant environmental advantages. (more…)

Don’t Drive Much? How to Save (and Even Make) Money on Your Car

Just because you own a car doesn’t mean you are regularly taking it out for a spin. Perhaps you only use it when you are heading on a road trip, grabbing groceries from the store, or rushing to work when you “didn’t hear your alarm”. When you realize you’ve only clocked 5,000 miles in the past year, you might feel pressed to justify such a large investment. But it’s your car, it’s your way of driving your friends to the beach this weekend. We get it, which is why we compiled some easy ways to keep your car running smoothly and maybe even leverage it to earn some extra cash.

drive less car tips

Know the basics: There’s no need to spend a lot of time and money on car maintenance when you aren’t driving much, but there are a few tips to remember in order to avoid costly repairs. Know how to deal with a flat tire and keep your tires properly inflated. It’s also important to change your oil on a regular basis as it keeps your car running smoothly and extends the life of the vehicle. Lastly, fix your brakes if they are squeaky because that likely means the brake lining is starting to wear thin. There’s no need to stop your car on the side of the road, but you should get them serviced soon after you hear the noise. If you are hungry for more car maintenance advice, we had one of our customer experience advocates share her favorite tips.

Be smart about car storage: If you are leaving your car idle for a long time, the ideal place to store it is in a garage because it prevents theft and also protects against the elements like that blazing summer sun. Garage parking can be expensive, especially in the city, so if you don’t need frequent access to your car you should shop around for the cheapest garage space instead of paying a premium to park in the closest garage. If the most viable option is keeping it outside, consider purchasing waterproof car cover to keep it clean to save on long term costs of wear and tear. Read more in our recent blog post about car storage tips.
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