Frugal Living 

Avoid These Financial Products

When I was younger, I remember Consumer Reports was the authority on reviews of household appliances, cars, and all the other major purchases in our lives. In the ensuing decade, where I stopped paying attention (known as high school and college), they’ve expanded to include reviews on basically everything. Today I read an article that is the epitome of what Consumer Reports is about – an article on “Financial Products That Are a Waste of Money.” (They also bought one of my favorite sites, The Consumerist, which I think is absolutely awesome)

So I’m going to share with you what I do anytime I read an article like this: I go down the list and compare it with what I’m doing (these are not recommendations for what you should do, just an illustration of what I do).

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Cheapest Fuel Efficient Cars: Fit Is Go!

Fit Is GoI’m surprised it took this long for someone to produce a list of the top ten cars in price per miles per gallon but Consumer Reports finally came through. We all know that hybrid vehicles are great fuel efficient cars but we also know that there is a waiting list for the Prius, hybrid vehicles are expensive (with many of the hybrid vehicle tax breaks expiring), and take nearly a decade to break-even on gas prices. It turns out that the most fuel efficient car, dollar for dollar in price, is the manual transmission Honda Fit Sport at $464 per MPG, edging out its base-model non-sport sibling and the base Toyota Prius.

Here are some thoughts I had about the list:

  • If you’re trying to do any break-even comparisons between cars, you can use this list to help you. Look for a pricier car with a higher MPG and you can calculate the break-even versus a cheaper car. For example, the $23,780 Toyota Prius with 44 MPG will catch up to the Mazda3i ($17,290, 30 MPG) in terms of base cost + fuel when the odometer hits ~152,978 miles at $4/gallon gasoline. That’s a lot of miles huh?
  • Four Hondas are on the list, including the Fit and Fit Sport taking the top spot. Three Toyotas (Scion is a subsidiary of Toyota) are on the list along with a Hyundai, Nissan, and the lone “American” car the Mazda3 (Mazda has Japanese origins but is now a Ford brand, hence the quotes).
  • I’m surprised to see only three manual vehicles on the list because manuals often get great fuel mileage and because manual transmissions vehicles are usually cheaper than the automatic ones, usually resulting in lower vehicle costs. A great frugal tip on cars is that you can save a few hundred dollars to a grand on a car if you buy a manual.
  • I’m not surprised to see that these are all small vehicles (you could argue that the Fit is smaller than small).
  • The difference between #1 (Honda Fit Sport) and #10 (Scion tC) in price per MPG is pretty significant – $194 per MPG.

Full table after the jump.

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