Road Kit

by Jenny Harrington

It is easy to save money at home. Other than ordering pizza or online shopping, the temptations to make impulse purchases are fairly limited. When you are out running errands, it is a different story. The streets are lined with shops and fast food joints just waiting to part you from your hard-earned cash. You can avoid this and keep your money in your wallet where it belongs by keeping a frugal road kit in your car. Some things you may want to include in your road kit are:

  • Snacks and bottled water - Some granola bars or other prepackaged treats that won't melt in a hot car are a must-have. This is one of those rare instances where it is more frugal to buy prepackaged food. These treats will keep you from hitting the drive-thru when your stomach is growling or the kids are complaining of hunger. Bottled water serves a dual purpose. Not only does it quench your thirst better than cash sucking soda, but also it is handy to top of a radiator that overheats.
  • A reusable mug - If you are a coffee drinker, keep a reusable mug in your car. Coffee refills are much cheaper than ordering a new cup, and often gas stations will give you a discount on soda as well.
  • Non-prescription medications and a few toiletries - Aspirin, antacid, and any other medication you sometimes purchase when you are out is a good thing to keep in your car. This will keep you from buying those single use packages from gas stations and drugstores at inflated prices. For women, you may also want to include an extra pair of pantyhose and a few sanitary napkins "just in case." An extra pair of sunglasses is also a good idea.
  • A phone book - Most cell phone providers charge for directory assistance calls, and if you are lucky enough to find a pay phone, you may pay fifty cents or more to place a call. Keep a phone book, pad, and pen in your car to avoid these charges.
  • Entertainment for the kids - Coloring books and washable markers or colored pencils can keep the kids occupied during long trips or tedious errands. They can be kept in small tote bags in the back seat pockets so the kids can bring them in when you have a long wait for an appointment. Avoid crayons, as they will melt in a hot car, leaving you with a mess that is nearly impossible to clean up.
  • Extra diapers or clothes for younger children - You will never be forced to purchase diapers or a new outfit at full price for a baby who has a blow out or a toddler that just couldn't hold it. During wet or slushy weather, you may even want to keep a change for yourself in case you have a meeting with a particularly muddy puddle!
  • An emergency roadside kit - Make sure your spare and jack are in good working order. Keep jumper cables, flares, and a small tool kit. These can save you a lot of money because you won't need to call a towing company to come help you out, as well as a lot of time waiting for them to get there.
  • A duffel bag - This will keep your frugal car kit from rolling around in your trunk. You are more likely to utilize everything if they are easy to find. A duffel bag can be easily taken inside to restock when needed and keeps everything organized when you take it back out to your car.

Make it a habit to check your kit regularly so you can restock anything you are running low on. Like anything, it is only frugal if you actually use it!

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer that specializes in personal finance and frugal living.

Take the Next Step:

  • If you don't already have one, it's time to put together a frugal road kit for your car and keep more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
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