Learning to drive can be invaluable especially after university when you’re out and about in the “real world”. Whether you’ve recently graduated and living on a graduate wage, or you’re still at uni living on a student loan – or more than likely your overdraft – learning to drive on a low-income (or no income) doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds.
Here are five useful ways students and graduates alike can save money while learning to drive.
- Learn before learning
Before paying out for official driving lessons with an instructor, it can be beneficial to get some driving experience beforehand. Learning with a parent, older sibling or friend who is fully licenced, insured and owns a car can save you money and give you experience before paying out for official lessons. Just make sure to put your L plates on the bonnet and boot if you do head out on the road.
Buying, insuring and learning in your own car can be expensive which is why it can be cheaper to learn with someone you know. So, if a family member or friend is willing to let you learn to drive in their car, there are insurance policies available that are designed specifically for learner drivers. These policies can give you and the owner of the car the peace of mind that if any damage were to happen to the car while you were driving, you’re covered by the correct type of insurance.
To save time and money on driving lessons, it’s a great idea to learn the theory of driving before having your first lesson. This is because some instructors may begin with the fundamentals of driving including the Highway Code, and the basic mechanics of the car itself.
Rather than paying out more money for theory books, there are free online resources available including The Highway Code and practice theory tests which can save you time and money in the long run. A theory test usually costs £23 which is why it can be a good idea to take a practice test before-hand, so you’ll be more likely to pass instead of having to pay out for another one.
Another way to learn the rules of the road and get to grips with a car before your first driving lesson is by asking someone you know with experience in driving. Be hands on and ask questions about the fundamentals of the car and your role as a driver.
For instance, find the location of the seatbelt, gear stick, clutch, brake, accelerator, side mirrors, and rear-view mirror. You may also find it useful know what is under the bonnet to get to know the mechanics of the car, even if it is only where the oil and water go.
These are things your driving instructor may go over with you in your first lesson, which is why it’s helpful to know beforehand to save time and therefore, money.
- Buy in bulk
Buying lessons in bulk can also save you money which is why taking intensive driving courses can be a great idea, especially if you’re still at uni and haven’t got a lot of time to spare. Plus, because you’re learning to drive in such a short time frame, you’ll have the advantage of recent knowledge and fresh experience when it comes to taking your test.
In-car training time for intensive courses usually amounts to more than 30 hours. If intensive courses are perhaps too demanding, there are semi-intensive courses available which allow you to spread out the lessons across a short period, usually between two and four weeks.
These courses also usually offer 30 or more hours of in-car training. Even though legally, “there’s no minimum number of lessons you must have or hours you must practise driving”, the more lessons you have, the more confidence, experience, and skill you’ll develop, giving you more of an advantage to pass first time.
- Hit the brakes!
You may be eager to pass first time, but take your test too early before you’re fully prepared and you may fail. As well as having to pay out for another test, you’ll also have to pay out for extra lessons before re-taking the test.
A driving test alone can cost between £62 and £75 which is why it’s best to spend extra time on driving lessons before taking the test, ensuring you’re well-prepared and ready.
- Freebie finding
A great way to save money on lessons is to look for deals and offers with driving schools. For instance, some schools offer reduced rates for introductory lessons and some even offer these lessons for free. But, while saving money can be useful, it’s also important to make sure the quality of the lesson takes priority.
To ensure that you’re learning with a “qualified and approved driving instructor (ADI)” you’ll need to check if they have a badge on display in their windscreen to prove that they’re registered with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). They’ll either have a green badge which means that they’re a qualified driving instructor, or a pink badge which means that they’re a trainee driving instructor, who are allowed to teach unsupervised whilst they are training.
As important as budgeting is when your funds are low and looking to save, it’s vital to make sure you choose the driving school and instructor to best suit your needs. And don’t be afraid to switch instructors until you find the one who suits you best.
When choosing a course, always ensure that you feel comfortable with the driving instructor’s teaching style, and don’t rush to pass! Not only could these things impact your learning experience and confidence, they could also affect how much money you spend on learning to drive.