My wife and I are among the few remaining newspaper readers. She peruses the ‘Living’ section, scouring every square inch for coupons. I just look for deals on motor oil. Sometimes my eyes will wander around to cheap tires or the latest headlight cleaning shtick. I despise cheap tires and God knows cleaning Chrysler headlights is far from my list of to-do’s these days. But finding a great deal? That’s what I live for. At least when it comes to eliminating any future purchases. For those of you seeking the frugal nirvana I have two words for ya. Forget retail.
I’ve found perfectly good tires at thrift stores. Motor oil? Freecycle has enabled me to get dozens of quarts for . . . well . . . free. Then of course you have the treasure troves of everything automotive. Junkyards and your mechanic’s mini boneyard.
Junkyards are always the obvious place for a long list of hardware. Engines, trannies, body and trim parts. Heck . . . you can even have sensors galore and reincarnated interiors if you look hard enough. However what has truly amazed me over the years is that wearable items can be truly had for a song.
Want some near-new tires? Ask. Of course you may end up with a perfect set of three but ask anyhow. Has a car come in with good seats? Ask again. A lot of yards will try to remarket seats but there are many who will let you have it for cheap to free if you’re buying a bunch of stuff or are a regular. Then there is what I consider to be the true Shangri-La.
Audio systems. It just amazes me that these things are seldom if ever removed from the vehicle. Perhaps it’s an Atlanta thing. I don’t know. But for every car that I saw with crappy aftermarket wheels that weren’t worth a damn, I’ve seen stereo systems that were truly expensive works of automotive art. I’ve literally put one in a Euro-spec Benz that I purchased for a mere $250 last year. It got the best Alpine system I could find for the time. Ipod compatible? Check. USB connectivity? You betcha. How much? Free from an impound auction. One of my friends was in the crushing business and he cared as much about the radio as I care about the Atlanta Braves.
One more thing. For those without the free time or resources, your local mechanic may be a very good resource. Early in my career I found many of my favorite future resources from an independent repair shop. That eventually lead to new sources and before I knew it, I conquered another mountain of frugality. Now if only I could manage my time as well.