Regardless of who you are, what you do, and where you are living (and assuming you are not one of the fabled 1%), you know for a fact that times are hard. I'm not going to go and compare it to the past decades or reminisce about better times, that'd be a waste of our time. I'm writing to pass on a bit of information to you, the reader, hoping it'll help even just a little bit.
Do you have a car? If not, you can probably stop reading at this juncture. Otherwise, I can empathize with you. It's generally a good thing, owning a motor vehicle. For me, I like driving semi-aimlessly while listening to the radio, probably the only time I leave my choice of music in the hands of someone else. There are also those times that make you hate owning a car: parking in a busy area, fender benders, tickets and fees, and of course, the financial costs of keeping the jalopy running decently.
From both personal experiences and second-hand wisdom from my other car-owning friends and family members, I have been able to crystallize a few choice bits of advice that will keep your chariot in decent running condition without vaporizing your monthly budget. Take a gander, try it out for yourself, and see if it saves you a few bucks.
Avoid Long Idling Periods
I can understand why you'd keep the engine running to keep it running during the winter, or the need for air conditioning when it's crazy-hot in the summer. Barring such predicaments, do try not to waste your fuel while your car is just parked there. You can always head into your house or some public building to cool off, or start your engine only when you need to be driving off. Whatever fuel your car runs off, it's a sound policy not to waste it.
Always Have Spares
It's great if you have on-the-road car assistance to go with your automobile (how much did you pay for it?), but some of us are just not as fortunate. It's always a good idea to pack a lot of common car parts and components that need frequent replacing (not suggesting you have a spare engine in your trunk). One or two spare tires (you don't need to break the bank; discount tires are easy to come by online), a fan belt, bottles of brake and transmission fluid, and please, please do not forget the tools you need for them! You may consider the Internet to buy quality tires and wheels so you can take advantage of the great variety of deals available.
Abstain from Excessive Bling
I'm not going to preach against the evils of excess, but when resources are scarce, you must know what to cut back on, and the superficial luxuries are the first in line towards the chopping block. You do not need spinners, spoilers, moldings, neon car lights, and other cosmetic enhancements to your ride. Unless you actually race for a living, there's no need to upgrade your vehicle with sport or pro-level parts and modifications. Consider these manifestations of vanity and overcompensation only when you have plenty of spare (spare meaning you've already paid all your bills, saved up something in the bank, and you still have money left over) cash.
Drive Like a Decent Human Being
Just because the gas pedal goes all the way down doesn't mean you should make it do so. There are very few situations in which you should be doing that, in fact, and just about all of them involve a dire emergency situation or a calamity that is figuratively (or even literally) biting at your heels. Excessive speeding drains your tank, places undue stress on your car's components, and wears down your tires. Oh, and if things go wrong, you might just trash your car and endanger your limbs, or even your life.
I hope these tips will save you a bit of money, sanity, and add to your quality of life. Keep on driving!