The Frugal Garage

In my neighborhood, all of the houses have two car garages. What amazes me is how few people use their garages for their intended purpose. When I go out for a run, I see so many garage doors open and the garages are full of stuff, not cars. There is barely room to walk in some of them, so crammed are they with junk. I guess part of the problem is that these houses were built without basements or attics so there’s no place to store the overflow of junk that most people have.

If you have a garage full of stuff and no room to put your cars, you might want to give some thought to cleaning it out and putting your cars in it. Using the garage as a garage rather than a storage facility has actually saved us money over the years. Aside from removing the eyesore of clutter, cleaning out your garage and parking your cars in it might save you some money, too. Here are some ways that using your garage as a garage, rather than a storage facility can save you some money.

Insurance costs: Our insurance company cuts us a small discount on our policy for keeping the car in the garage. The insurance company knows that the garage provides all of the protections listed below and they are willing to give us a break on the policy because they hope that we will have fewer claims.

Protection against theft: If the car is secure in the garage, it is less vulnerable to theft. It’s much harder for a thief to get to a car that’s in a garage than one that’s parked on the street. Not only is it harder to steal the actual car, but it’s also much harder for someone to seal things like your stereo, GPS, or other valuables that you keep in the car (and it’s less obvious to a thief that you even have those things in the first place). If it doesn’t get stolen, you don’t have to pay/file insurance to replace it.

Protection against weather: I can’t count how many times having our car in the garage has saved it from the weather. Where we live we get hail, ice storms, and wind storms that knock down trees and limbs. If the car weren’t in the garage, we would be shelling out money or filing insurance claims for repairs.

Protection against vandalism: A couple of years ago, our neighborhood had a rash of vandalism. Kids were spray painting cars, slashing tires, and breaking the windows. A lot of our neighbors were hit but because our cars were in the garage, we were spared.

You don’t have to scrape the windshield in the winter: This one is a time saver, but it’s also a money saver, too, since time is money. If you don’t have to get up and scrape the windshield every morning, you can sleep later, do some small chores before you leave the house, or just take your time getting ready. You don’t have to go rushing out in the cold to spend fifteen minutes scraping the windshield.

You don’t have to unfreeze the locks: If you live in a cold climate, you sometimes go out to discover that your locks are frozen. You then have to take the time to unfreeze them (and pay for the stuff that you shoot in the lock to do the job), meaning you are late for work. Again.

No more fried butt: If you live in a hot climate, you know the discomfort of getting in the car on a hot afternoon and frying your butt on a hot seat. This one doesn’t save you money or time, but it will save your butt and is worth mentioning.

The garage provides an indoor place to do maintenance: If you have an indoor, climate controlled place to do maintenance, you are more likely and able to do things like oil changes, repairs, tire rotations, or cleaning the car’s interior yourself. This saves you money because it’s cheaper to do these things yourself than paying someone else to do them.

A cleaned out garage provides a place to do other projects: When your garage isn’t full of junk, you can pull the cars out and use the big space for other money saving projects like refinishing furniture, building things, or repairing broken items. A clean garage can double as a workshop.

You can entertain the kids: On cold or rainy days you can pull the cars out of the garage and let the kids have free reign. They can turn the floor into an in-line skating rink, do arts and crafts projects without messing up the house, have a dance party, or set up a mini basketball hoop or soccer goal. When you can provide such a space for entertaining the kids, you don’t have to take them places like PlaySpace or McDonalds.

Turn it into a workout area: If you have a TV and a video player in the garage, you can pull out the cars and use the space for working out. Many aerobic workout tapes require a lot of floor space to do them, more than you may have available in the house. Exercise will save you money in the long run by cutting insurance costs and improving your health.

Additional storage space: A carefully planned and arranged garage can give you a place to both put your cars and store some of your stuff. Rather than tossing your extra stuff in the middle of the garage floor, which prevents the space from being used for anything else, you can invest in some wall-mounted shelving and storage cabinets. Many are inexpensive or you can build something yourself. These give you some storage space, but keep the main area free for cars and other uses. Use the space to store lawn maintenance equipment, tools, and other materials for some of your projects.

It protects other items against theft: Once you have a cleaned out and organized garage, you can not only store your cars in it, but other items such as bikes, tools, lawn mowers, generators, or snow blowers, as well. This is stuff you might have to otherwise leave outside, leaving it vulnerable to theft or weather damage.

One final word of advice: Once you’ve got your garage in order and your cars in it, don’t forget to shut the door. Too many homeowners end up with their cars or other items stolen or damaged because they didn’t shut the garage door. It’s just too easy for thief to walk up, take something and run away. The open garage door also provides thieves easy access to the rest of your home. So shut the door.

A garage can be both a place to store things and a place to put your cars. You just have to put a little planning and effort into cleaning out your junk and finding better ways to organize it. Once you’ve got a clean garage, it begins saving you money right away. Your belongings are better protected and you have space to engage in other frugal activities. A well organized garage is a frugal person’s friend.

This entry was posted in Frugal, Housing, Personal Finance, Saving Money and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Frugal Garage

  1. Great post! I don’t have a garage, and I never really thought about the money to be saved by parking a car in one. Very thought provoking!

  2. MollyJ says:

    Funny. I noticed that a lot of the garages in my neighborhood are packed to the gills with stuff while the cars sit outside. I saw one that was so full it was overflowing when the door was open. I’d hate to have to clean that out.

  3. Monkey Mama says:

    Are you kidding? After years as a renter syuck on the street, of course we park our cars in the garage!!! (There is a lot of vandalism and auto theft in our area).

    Actually, with our HOA we are required to park in the garage on some level, so most our neighbors do use their garages for their cars. But yeah, it is so much nicer and comfortable keeping the cars in there.

  4. Lori says:

    Just to add to the additional storage point: There is ususally a lot of room above the cars that is unused space. By installing roof-hung platforms, you can give yourselves a semi-attic. Just make sure you know your weight limits.

  5. Julie says:

    We have two, 2 car garages. We always keep our 4 cars in the garages to keep them looking nice all the time. However, the two work vans do sit outside.

  6. A Marino says:

    Good post. I didn’t realize that the insurance would give you a discount for garaging your car.

    I have a one-car garage where my cars stays. It is a 1999 and the paint job still looks great. I know that it’s because it’s garaged.

    Great points about vandelism and theft also.

  7. David G. Mitchell says:

    I wish I could put my car in our garage but the garage has design flaws. Although the garage was sold as a three car garage, we can only fit one of our cars into it!

  8. Diane says:

    Our neighborhood has only 1 car garages – small ones! The houses are small and the laundry area is in the garage.

    Since most people have at least 2 cars (many have 3) the garages are rarely used for cars – most are used for storage areas.

    Our garage is used for laundry, a work-out area, a bath/kennel area for the dog (we have a utility sink & grooming table) & a feeding/litterbox area for the cat.

    I would LOVE to have a house large enough to have a laundry room, work-out area etc. AND a garage large enough to park 2 cars. Maybe someday…

  9. Jo says:

    I have noticed the same in our neighborhood, the double and triple garages are used for everything but storing vehicles.

  10. Texas Girl says:

    I’d be willing to bet the state of someone’s financial situation is reflected in how the garage looks. Hmmmmm…..

  11. Robb says:

    Another important point: A packed garage is an extreme fire danger! All of that “stuff” burns like crazy once ignited!
    WHOOSH! and it’s GONE IN A FLASH!!!
    Just another reason NOT to pack your garage to the ceiling with all kinds of junk!

  12. I disagree on one point. You stated it is harder to steal valuables from your car when it is in the garage. If the theif does gain garage access, it actually can make it easier, as he can not be observed from the street. I had a friend who had her car in the garage and overnight they stole the wheels, stereo, seats–stripped it clean. They also got 3 other cars in the same neighborhood, all in locked garages.
    Make sure your garage doors are locked and have good locks on them.

  13. Bimmer says:

    mom-from-missouri: It depends on the garage. Some have windows, doors to the back yard, etc that allow easier access for a thief. Others only have the garage door and door to the inside of the house.

    One mistake I see is people do not lock their cars when they are in the garage. This must still be done!

    Overall, good blog entry!

  14. Shannon C. says:

    I also used to think it odd that everyone in our neighborhood parked outside their garages, but ours is now full of stuff, too.

    However, that stuff makes us money — it’s the things we sell online, our “inventory.”

  15. Pingback: » Festival #159 Is Rolling In Dough on the Festival of Frugality

  16. THANK YOU! I’m tempted to print out this post and deliver it to a bunch of the neighbors.

    Another thing you might add: Keeping the rolling stock off the front yard improves the property value of your home and of your neighbors’ homes. A lot of cars, trucks, and trailers permanently parked in driveways and in front yards makes the whole neighborhood look like Pore White Trash Central.

    On the issue of whether the burglar can get unimpeded access to your car by breaking into the garage:

    a) Get an up-to-date garage door opener; these are designed so that they respond only to YOUR remote, not to some clown driving up and down the street pointing his remote at every garage door in the neighborhood.

    b) If you have a door from the garage to the yard, install a security door (available at Home Depot or Lowe’s for a reasonable price) and keep it locked.

    My 1971 two-car garage contains the washer & dryer, a utility sink, and ceiling-to-floor storage cabinets along two walls, but I’ve managed to park two cars in there. Clean out the junk and you should be able to get two small to medium-size cars inside a double garage that also has other functions.

  17. Pingback: Moments of Fame « Funny about Money

  18. Pingback: Festival of Frugality - The Dough Roller

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *