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I drove my car so infrequently it died. So as usual, don't be like me!

How to Maintain the Car You’re Barely Driving

During the winter, our powerful, pleasurable, indestructible Patreon donors voted for DIY car maintenance in one of our Patreon exclusive content polls. And I decided to sit on it, because spring is the ideal time for a lot of routine car maintenance. I thought I would be topical.

Well, now it’s become either entirely too topical… or not topical at all? Perhaps both at the same time. On the one hand, I have never driven less than I have over the last month. In the last two weeks, I’ve driven just once: to the local grocery store and back, a round-trip of less than one mile.

On the other hand…

I drove my car so infrequently it broke down.

Yep. My nine-year-old battery finally up and died! So as usual, the moral of the story is don’t be like me!

In retrospect, it’s obvious that trying to be a good girl and go on as few trips as possible would obviously backfire and create the need for more trips! I hadn’t planned on going to an auto supply store during a pandemic, but my new minimalist bike-everywhere lifestyle successfully murdered my geriatric battery. Cause of death: involuntary Mustachianism?

I had to leave my car idling and unlocked in the parking lot of the closest AutoZone because I was afraid it wouldn’t start again, but I refused to let my asthmatic partner join me on any errands while Rona’s out there, causing havoc.

I was able to get a new battery. Between myself, my partner, a set of imperial wrenches that didn’t quite match our metric nuts, and the living catalogue of human knowledge that is YouTube, we were able to replace the battery ourselves. But this got me to thinking about car maintenance for people who rarely drive.

Right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, that basically includes… <checks notes> everyone. But it’s not exactly a niche topic, either. Many frugal people, minimalists, and environmentalists own a car out of necessity, but are interested in driving as little as possible.

So today we’re going to discuss how to take care of your car when you barely drive it at all.

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Gird your loins. Don your resting bitch face.

Buying a Car with the Bitches, Part 2: How to Pay for Your Car

Previously, on “Buying a Car with the Bitches”: Part 1.

Before we discuss any part of the car buying process, there is one very important thing you need to remember:

You are a dragon and you breathe fire.

Do not let sellers push you around. Do not let them talk you into anything. Do not feel sorry for them. And do not forgive or excuse them for anything.

If they want your extremely valuable business, they are going to have to earn it by respecting you, your money, and your time. They are going to have to prove themselves with straightforward answers and solid customer service.

Don’t be nice. You can’t afford to be nice. Make those fuckers werk.

While this is good advice for any financial negotiation, it’s especially important for buying a car because the entire car buying industry seems to be predicated on a philosophy of shady sales tactics and manipulation.

And you have too much money at stake to put up with that shit.

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Buying a Car with the Bitches, Part 1: How to Choose Your Car

When I got my first big-kid job, I took most of my savings from over four years of nannying and bought a used car with cash. Seven years of hard commuting later and that car was a thirteen-year-old dinosaur with over 300,000 miles on it begging to be put out of its misery.

When I refused to let the poor thing die with dignity (because I definitely didn’t plan to buy a new car while in the middle of Operation Student Loan Decimation), it made the decision for me and offed itself.

I didn’t have enough cash saved up to buy a new car without a loan because I’d been spending every last shining penny on my student loans at the time. This process had drained all but a minimal emergency fund dry, so buying a new car with cash was out of the question.

And making my forty-mile round trip commute by bus was actually more expensive than driving: four hours and $10 a day, to be exact.

So I needed to buy a new car. Here’s what I learned from the process.

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Hold your lectures, bikevangelists.

The Joys of Getting Around Without a Damn Car

Loyal citizens of Bitch Nation, I have a confession to make.

I fucking hate driving.

It’s tedious and boring. It takes up time I could spend in other ways. It raises my blood pressure because everyone else is a really fucking bad driver but definitely not me I’m perfect. Cars are noisy, dirty, and expensive. And I’m expected to follow the rules of the road when I just wanna be all

So yeah. Me and cars? We don’t get a long.

And I’m not alone. Haunt the halls of lifestyle blogs and personal finance advice long enough and you’ll run into people who have gone to great lengths to go without driving.

Living a carless lifestyle is entirely possible for a lot of us, and the joys and benefits are many. Getting around without a car saves you a trunkload of cash (see what I did there?), it’s better for your health, and it’s better for the environment. It can even save you time, in certain circumstances.

Below I examine the joys and practicalities of carless modes of transportation. It’s by no means a complete list, so I encourage class participation! Tell me all about your car-free mobility in a comment.

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Fun for the whole train car!

Understand the Hidden Costs of Travel and Avoid Them Like the Plague

Like traveling ladies of yore, we daintily but enthusiastically wave our kerchiefs to our Patreon supporters. They selected this week’s topic in our monthly donor polls, and I’m thrilled. Because I have some things to get off my chest. Other than my bra, which has already had its ceremonial end-of-day removal and flinging.

Gentle readers, I come to you straight from my biannual trip back home for Christmas.

It fucking suuuuucked.

It’s not that I hate spending time with my family (though the inclusion of the Commander in Chief in this year’s Christmas dinner prayer was more than enough to ruin my appetite). But visiting them during the holidays is an expensive logistical nightmare.

We have to buy our flights, get to and from the airport four times, feed ourselves during a long day of travel, arrange for pet care while we’re away, and even pay for lodgings and transportation once we’re there if my in-laws are inexplicably remodeling the house again during our visit.

Again: it sucks. And I’ve realized that traveling to visit family is the thing that most often puts me at risk of overspending my budget.

Fortunately, this cheap bitch has learned a few tricks along the way to cling to my hard-earned pennies.

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Take a break from your weekly meeting of the Optimistic and Nearsighted Libertarian Club.

Dafuq Is Insurance and Why Do You Even Need It?

This article is definitely not about health insurance. I specifically refer to pretty much every other kind of insurance you can get in the United States, but not health insurance. Because contrary to what our fearless leader said recently, everyone knows that healthcare is really fucking complicated. Not to mention expensive.

Therefore, I’m saving it for another post so as not to muddy the waters… with our tears.

Our readers from civilized countries like Canada and Namibia are probably recoiling in horror right about now. Yeah. WELCOME TO THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE, BITCHES. Moving on.

Insurance in general can seem like a confusing and unnecessary gamble. Obtaining it and taking advantage of its benefits might seem daunting. Why should you pay money for something you might never need? You’re healthy and careful! What’s the point of this expensive service?

Worry not my confident yet naive marshmallow peeps. I’ll break it all down for you.

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I know what you're thinking. It can't possibly be this simple. But it is.

This Flowchart Tells You When You Need Extended Warranties

Is it my imagination, or are companies offering extended product warranties way more often than they used to?

Oh, I’m being coy. I know the answer—Portia reads the papers! 74% of electronics shoppers and 85% of appliance shoppers get the extended warranty pitch during their shopping experience.

Whether in-person at Best Buy or online at Amazon, it seems like every purchase now comes with a suggested extended warranty. And it’s not just for computers and smartphones. I’ve gotten these offers on crappy $10 earbuds, pet hair vacuum cleaners, and brass floor lamps.

Why are companies pushing these special extended warranties? And how do you know if purchasing one is in your best interest?

I’m proud to say that I’ve developed a formula to answer this very question, and I’ve put it into a helpful flowchart for all you good boys and girls. But it wouldn’t be a Kitty article if I didn’t bury my lede under some quasi-socialist deconstructions of consumerism first!

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You do not need a 52-inch TV on which to watch steroid-enhanced men in spandex bowl each other over in between reminders that we are all slaves to capitalism.

Dafuq Is a Down Payment and Why Do You Need One to Buy Stuff?

Sometimes you don’t have enough money in the bank to buy stuff, so you borrow money to buy the stuff. But if you have some money, it is always better to use it to pay for part of the stuff than to borrow all the money you need to buy the stuff.

In an ideal world, we’d all pay for expensive things like cars and houses and a college education with the money that we already have. But unless you have a Scrooge McDuckian money vault at your disposal, paying cash in full for a car or house or bachelor’s degree feels nigh impossible.

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