Ah, the question everyone would love to know the answer to! How can I save money when learning to drive? After all, learning to drive is not cheap, right? There are some good ways of doing this and some ideas which are not so good. So let’s take a look in to it…
Perhaps the first thing you will want to do is work out an approximate budget for getting your driving licence, preferably looking at the bigger picture and not just the hourly rate of the driving lessons. It may also be an idea to plan a budget for after you pass your driving test and that special day when you finally own your own car! But for now, let’s stick with the costs of learning to drive. Here are a few things to consider:
- Provisional licence: £34 (see link for further info) Driving Licence Fees
- Theory revision material: approx £10 – £20
- Theory test fee: £23
- Practical test fee: £62
- Driving lessons: average range between £25 – £35 per hour (multiply by 40, which is the approximate number of hours for most novice learners to get to a good standard of driving – although this can vary from person to person)
These are the minimum costs to consider. However, these costs can easily increase if you are not careful. Let’s say you take two attempts to pass your theory test. Then the same again for your practical test as well. This is going to put an additional increase of £170 to your overall costs! This is without factoring in additional lessons to keep your practise up until you pass. Try to ensure you are genuinely ready when you take your tests. Your instructor should guide you on this and it is usually in your interests to listen to the professional advice they are giving. So this leads us on to one of the most important factors to consider…..
Choose a Good Driving Instructor
Most people will naturally look at the hourly rate of the driving lessons as the best way of keeping costs down, sometimes shopping around different driving instructors until they find the cheapest hourly rate. But this can be a false economy. If an instructor has a very cheap hourly rate, then personally I would be questioning why that is. I mean, if you are good at what you do and people rate you highly, why would you be offering cheap prices? It’s the same with other things, for example when you go to get your hair cut do you just shop around for the cheapest barber / hairdresser you can find? If not, why not?
Finding a good instructor is vital to your learning experience and with the right one you should be able to progress at a good rate, enjoy your lessons and ultimately develop in to a good driver. I have lost count of the number of customers I have had who started with the cheapest instructor they could find, then ended up changing instructor because they were not happy with the service they were getting. Spending a lot of time parked up at the side of the road and not actually driving. Losing out on their lesson time because the instructor wanted to quickly stop off at the shops for something. The instructor getting frustrated or angry and not showing the required patience. These are just a few examples of things that can and do happen!
So choose your instructor carefully, because a good one will actually save you money in the long run. You are more likely to pass your tests first time with a good instructor, which will save you a lot of money (see above where test fees were discussed). Recommendations from friends and family are always a good starting point, as well as doing your own research online.
Self-reflection and Lesson Planning
This is a part which a lot of people really underestimate. To get the most out of your driving lessons it is very important that you think about your driving outside of the lesson time and not just when you are in the car. Ask yourself how you could improve on what you did last lesson. Is there anything particular you would like to try and focus on next lesson? What could I be doing between my lessons to help me? Perhaps writing down some bullet points for your manoeuvres, or sketching some pics of them to remind yourself of how to do it. Observing mum or dad driving (assuming they are a half decent driver, of course!) and seeing how they respond to the other road users around them.
It is also important to reflect on what you have done well and try to keep yourself in a positive mindset as you go through your course of learning to drive. An example of this might be visualising yourself doing one of the manoeuvres successfully and thinking about how you did it. Nobody picks everything up perfectly first time. Really important to remember that! So even if you have a bit of an off day in your lesson, you can always draw on some positives, whether it be within that lesson or a previous one.
Taking 15 minutes or so before your lesson starts to get yourself calm and relaxed is also beneficial. Try not to be doing something which is likely to stress you our before you’ve even got in the car. Maybe make it part of your routine to grab yourself a cuppa, sit somewhere quiet and go over your own objectives for the lesson.
These things will really help you to progress far more so than simply turning up for your lesson and hoping that it all just clicks in to place. If you take this advice onboard, you will certainly reduce the number of lessons needed to get you where you need to be.
Getting extra practise in to compliment your driving lessons will benefit you, as long as you are doing it with someone who is willing to be very patient and supportive. You don’t want to have bad experiences and lose any confidence you have built up during the lessons with your instructor. If you are doing this, it may be a good idea for your supervising driver to have some discussion with your instructor, so they have an idea of what you are working on and perhaps bounce ideas off each other. If everyone is working together then it should benefit you more. Another thing your instructor should be able to advise you on is the legalities of using a supervising driver for private practise. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for supervising drivers to fall foul of the law without meaning to. DVSA advice can be found here.
Learn the Theory
Leaving it until halfway through your practical lessons to start revising the theory side of things is not ideal! I know, I know, you’ve got far better things to be doing with your evenings than sitting at home and reading about how to do roundabouts! But if you can learn the theory stuff early on, or better still before you even do your first lesson, it will be a massive help to both you and your instructor. You will feel more confident about what you are doing when you drive and ultimately this will enable you to develop quicker and therefore not need as many lessons as you might do otherwise. The other thing to bare in mind is you can’t book a practical driving test until the theory test has been passed. So even if you are ready to take your practical test and the driving is up to standard, you will be held back because the DVSA booking system simply won’t allow a practical test to be booked unless that individual has passed their theory test. So this is another fairly simple way of keeping your costs down and avoiding unnecessary extras.
Talk with your instructor about how you are feeling and what you would like to do in the lessons. The lessons will be far more productive if you are both working together to achieve your goals, rather than both of you guessing what each others thoughts and intentions are! There may be something you are not 100% happy with in the lessons, but if you don’t let your instructor know then how are they supposed to do anything about it! Everyone is different, so a lot of the time the input from the learner is just as important as the input from the instructor. Work together to mold the lessons so that they best suit you as an individual. This will lead to a happy learner and a happy instructor!
- A lot of money can be saved when you look at the bigger picture. Do some planning and try to find good advice from people in the know. Also bare in mind that driving is a life skill which is worth investing in. For most people it is something which will be a massive part of the rest of your life, so you want to get quality and value for your money.