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The Pinch: Cars are ranked by mpg and cost

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Kelley Blue Book has released its list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles available that have a total cost of ownership less than $30,000.

“With gas prices as high as they are today, most consumers are looking for something that’s going to be able to save them a little bit of money at the pump,” said Alec Gutierrez, the senior market analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

When buying a vehicle, consumers need to consider all of the costs of owning a vehicle, not just fuel costs and upfront acquisition costs, Gutierrez said.

Kelley Blue Book has compiled Total Cost of Ownership data to reveal depreciation, expected fuel costs, finance and insurance fees, maintenance and repair costs and state fees for new models during the initial five years of ownership.

It focused on highlighting vehicles that provide excellent fuel economy with a five-year operating cost of $30,000 or less.

The Nissan Versa topped the list as having the best total cost of ownership. Shoppers in the market for a small car can also choose from several new or redesigned subcompacts, such as the Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta or Chevrolet Sonic.

For buyers seeking more space, Kelley Blue Book names the Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic or Volkswagen Jetta as excellent choices. One hybrid vehicle made the list, the Honda Insight.

Kelley found that some of the most fuel-efficient vehicles aren’t the best buys, though.

The Toyota Prius, for instance, gets more than 50 miles per gallon, but it didn’t make the list.

It’s more expensive to purchase compared to other vehicles on the list, and when all factors were considered, it was not the most economical choice over a five-year span.

The Honda Civic hybrid and electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, also didn’t make the list, he said.

“While fuel efficiency is certainly important, because these are all very efficient vehicles, you need to consider a little more than that over the long term,” Gutierrez said.

$2,054 IN COUPONS

Today’s Augusta Chronicle has $2,054.64 in coupons. This includes $1,381.99 at Harbor Freight, $25 at Joann Fabrics, $17.05 at RedPlum, $30 at Sears, $26 at Rite Aid, $9.42 at Kmart, $131 in USA Weekend, $5 at Toys R Us, $20 at Walgreens and $409.18 in SmartSource.

The SmartSource coupon book has a coupon to save $1.50 on any one package of Huggies diapers.

CHEAP TICKETS

Six Flags Over Georgia opened this weekend, and guests who donate six or more nonperishable food items on the day of their visit to MUST Ministries, a food pantry, will receive a coupon to purchase a one-day admission pass for only $19.67.

The price commemorates the park’s inaugural season in 1967, according to a release.

Sunday, March 18, is the last day the offer is valid. Suggested items to donate include canned meats, dry milk, beans and canned vegetables. A full list of accepted items can be found at sixflags.com.

In addition, Six Flags Over Georgia is offering a Summer Thrill Pass for $54.99, the same price as a one-day admission. A Thrill Pass includes unlimited visits to the park through Sept. 30. For more information, visit sixflags.com/overgeorgia.

PET FOOD DRIVE

Bi-Lo is partnering with Augusta-area residents to present the PAWS Feed the Love pet food drive.

Through March 27, Bi-Lo shoppers can help those receiving assistance from Golden Harvest Food Bank to care for their pets by purchasing a “Feed the Love” bag for $5 with their My Bi-Lo Bonuscard.

Each bag contains a week’s worth of dry and canned packages of PAWS Premium, Bi-Lo’s brand of cat and dog food, according to a release.

Donations will stock shelves with pet food at Golden Harvest Food Bank.

The pre-packed Feed the Love bags are available for purchase at all Bi-Lo locations and can be placed in specially marked donation carts at the entrance of the store.

They will be picked up by Golden Harvest and distributed to those in need in the community.

For every bag purchased, Bi-Lo customers will get an additional 10 cents per gallon in Fuelperks rewards, a program that offers savings on gas with grocery purchases.

DEBIT CARD DON’TS

ShopSmart magazine has identified five scenarios that can put consumers at risk when using their debit cards:

• Don’t use your debit card for big purchases or when you shop online. Unlike debit cards, credit cards might add a year to manufacturer warranties. If you buy something online that is defective or damaged during shipping, you can dispute the charge and ask your credit card company to intervene. Shoppers might not have this option with debit cards.

• Don’t take your debit card on trips. Many credit cards come with some level of travel insurance and auto rental insurance. They might also have concierge services that could come to your aid in challenging situations.

• Don’t use a debit card if you’re worried about getting ripped off. Under federal law, your liability for fraudulent charges on a debit card can be greater than for a credit card.

With a credit card, you’re only responsible for up to $50 in unauthorized purchases. With a debit card, you can lose up to $500 if you don’t report the theft or loss of your card or PIN within two business days of learning about the problem.

• Don’t rely on a debit card if you want to raise your credit score. You’re not building a credit history when you use debit cards. Well-managed credit cards, however, can help boost scores.

• Don’t use your debit card if you want to earn money on purchases. A recent federal law cut the amount that banks can make on debit card transactions, so they scaled back their rewards.

If you have a good cash-back or rewards credit card, use that card instead.

The Pinch

Read Staff Writer LaTina Emerson’s The Pinch blog on saving money at augustachronicle.com. Reach her at (706) 823-3227 or latina.emerson@augustachronicle.com.


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