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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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Buying Electric Cars.  What you need to know about tax incentives, advantagesdisadvantages, and more.

With gas prices on the rise, it has us thinking about how we can save.  Yesterday we covered 10 easy ways to save on gas, and #10 was going extreme and switching cars…  Some of you may even be considering making the move to an electric car.  I did some research into it and went to some friends to see if it really could be a savings…

Gas Savings:

When it comes to switching to electric, our number one reasoning is usually to save on gas.  Assuming a gas price of $3.54/gallon, a car that gets 28 mpg and 15,000 miles/year, gas would cost you $1,900 for one year.  To charge your electric car for a year (although electricity prices vary across the country) should cost you around $500 according to Sierra Club.  That would be a savings of $1,400 per year!

If you are like me and always drive more than 15,000 per year… that only get’s better.

Note: most of the cars do not need a special charger.  Just plug it in and it charges in 8 hours.

Tax Credits:

Another incentive that may have you considering the switch are tax credits.  Right now there is a $7,500 federal tax credit (if your end of year tax bill is $7,500 or more), plus you can find some state incentives.  The incentives kind of depend on timing (whether or not the government still has the money).  Also, don’t expect the incentives in your state to be the same as the next.  If you’re buying a used electric car, it won’t qualify for the credit since the original owner is the one who would have initially received it.  Do your research to see which incentives your state is offering for electric and hybrid vehicles.

Most electric car websites have a search feature for you to see which incentives are available in your area.  I’ll give you a heads up that Georgia residents have the biggest incentives in the South East!


Leasing an Electric Car:

Recently my friend Amy and her family decided to lease a Nissan Leaf in Georgia.  Here are their reasons for leasing the Leaf:

In Georgia, it’s a great deal because of a $5,000 credit on your taxes if your tax liability exceeds $5,000.  You won’t get the $7,500 federal tax credit if you lease as it comes off the purchasing price for the lease holder.  The basic lease is $199/month for the base model and it comes with tons of nice features including an app you can use to turn on the climate control system before you go outside!

That means if you choose a 2 year lease the tax credit covers your payments for the 2 years.  Of course you still owe sales tax, a down payment, and other fees when you set up the lease, so it’s not entirely free. Since electric cars are newer to the market, it’s a great way to test it out without purchasing.  However when you consider that you don’t have to purchase gas over the two years and that scheduled maintenance on an electric car is just rotating the tire (no oil changes, belts or mechanical fluids to change) it really works to your advantage!

The rough breakdown for Amy:

$1,900 Down payment
$1,000 in taxes and fees (estimated)
$4,776 in monthly payments
-$5,000 Tax Credit

In the end the total cost for the car for two years is $2,676.  Don’t forget the gas you aren’t buying though… after gas savings you come out ahead!!

The other major benefits in Georgia are that electric car users can use HOV lanes even for single drivers, and you can apply for special reduced electric rates at night to charge your vehicle at off-peak hours.  If you work for certain employers, you may be eligible for VPP which gives an even lower lease payment.  The leaf can travel 100 miles on a charge, so it wouldn’t be the most ideal primary car unless you decide to rent a car for longer family trips.  However, if you’re just planning on commuting, it’s pretty great.

Basically, in Georgia your incentives may include:
-$7,500 Federal Tax Credit
-$5,000 State Tax Credit
-Income Tax Credit of 10% of Cost of Charging Equipment
-Unlimited HOV Lane Use
-Reduced Electricity Rate

Electric cars are becoming more practical as their popularity increases.  It comes with a charge cord that you can plug in at your house to charge overnight.  This method of charging takes longer than if you use an actual charging station like you’ll find at the dealership and elsewhere (I’ve seen them in the Whole Foods parking lot).


With purely electric cars, the obvious advantage is the lack of CO2 emissions and higher tax incentives.  However, when you buy a hybrid like the Chevrolet Volt, you’re saving on gas while also having the qualities of a car that you’re used to in your regular gas-fueled cars.  If you run out of gas in a gas-fueled car, you head to a gas station.  If you run out of charge in an electric/gas-fueled car, it switches from electric to gas until you get a chance to recharge.  If you run out of charge in a purely electric car, you’re stuck until the tow truck arrives.  When you’re shopping around for electric cars, see if the brand offers free towing services…


If the smaller electric cars aren’t the best fit for your family, keep up with some of your favorite brands to see when they’ll be offering SUVs and trucks.  I think the Tesla Model X looks like a great option for bigger families with the 3rd row seating.  Many automotive experts are saying that hybrids are the better choice long term.  We’ve also seen one car manufacturer, Toyota, announce the end of their 100% electric models.  They say the reason is to put more focus into their hybrid lines.

Thanks to Amy, a fellow frugal-mama for her insight into electric car-buying.  Also to my go-to car dealer, Sam Burns at Burns of Gaffney, SC for answering all of my questions about the industry.  

Have you researched electric cars?  Tell me your thoughts!
    • Jonathan Hewitt

      I have an electric car and I’m never going back. There’s other benefits as well like having max torque at 0 RPM and never having to go to the gas station because you wake up each day with a “full tank” (time=money!!)

    • jwashinga

      I love my 2 year old Leaf! It should pay for itself completely (by not buying gas) in 5 more years by my estimates. You do have to have enough but not too many miles to make it work for your family. And you can’t realistically get 100 miles in everyday. We only charge ours to 80% (to save battery life) and if you drive on the interstate, it eats more miles, so an easy 70 miles a day is a comfortable distance for me.

    • patty

      The tax credit is only if you owe taxes!…. If you do not owe for taxes you will NOT receive an additional credit.
      I did not owe for taxes last year and I lost out on the credit! ):

    • KEB2009

      just a couple clarifications here as im sure some of this was probably a copy/paste:

      – the leaf cannot get 100 miles on a charge even at 100%

      – “normal” charging is possible but the charge time from near empty is more like 18 hours on a 120v normal wall outlet

      – like its been said the state tax credit isn’t for everyone so please don’t base your lease/purchase on that

      i actually just signed my papers on a ford focus electric today. looking forward to getting it saturday!

      if you’re interested in an EV there are forums for all models out there to get real world stats/problems/updates/etc.


    • Khalid Mehnzor

      “With purely electric cars, the obvious advantage is the lack of CO2 emissions”

      So you’re saying that there are no CO2 emissions associated with the electricity required to recharge the power cells? Really?

      That comes across as a bit naive, or purposely misleading. Which is it?

      • Lana

        Wow! That was unkind and I think you know how it was meant in the article!

        • Khalid Mehnzor

          It really is disingenuous to tout electrically-powered vehicles as “green” just because they don’t have an exhaust pipe. Unfortunately many are swayed by that type of disinformation. To perpetuate it is wrong —and unkind.

          • Jonathan Hewitt

            Economies at scale at power plants ensure that EVs are more green than ICEs even after transmission losses. Plus, as we add more green energy to the grid EVs get cleaner and cleaner every year.

            • Khalid Mehnzor

              Just the facts please. Refineries have economies at scale as well. We’re talking pollutants. Are you pro-nuclear, or cheap coal? Or do you think waves, windmills power the earth. And before you mention “solar” please have some idea about the waste toxicity of the panel manufacturing processes. You’ve convinced no one here.

            • Jonathan Hewitt

              The EPA agrees with me:

              Here’s an analysis if you don’t trust the EPA:

              Also, your comment about refineries having economies of scale is totally non sequitur. Gasoline, no matter how good the economies of scale are in a refinery, will eventually get burned by an engine. Typical maximum thermal efficiencies are ~30% in a gasoline engine. Electric motors are typically 90% efficient. Yes, there are some slight charging inefficiencies and transmission efficiencies but even after factoring those in it’s still much higher than 30%. Or if we are talking about transmission losses we could bring up the fact that your gasoline had to be transported however many miles to your gas station. I’m sure that’s a much more efficient process than transmitting electricity over a power line.

              I’m pro-nuclear and pro-solar. Actually, I’m mostly just against importing oil from countries that hate us, actually, so anything to lower our foreign oil consumption is my goal even if it means burning more coal. Very few power plants burn petroleum so by driving an EV I am achieving my main goal of minimizing my usage of foreign oil.

              Here’s an article talking about solar panel production waste:

              Let me quote a section from that article: “The roughly 20-year life of a solar panel still makes it some of the cleanest energy technology currently available. Producing solar is still significantly cleaner than fossil fuels. Energy derived from natural gas and coal-fired power plants, for example, creates more than 10 times more hazardous waste than the same energy created by a solar panel, according to Mulvaney.”

              Thanks for spouting off the typical sound bytes that sound good to people because they like to think their hummer is as green as a Prius. It was really convincing. It’s really too bad because if someone wants to drive a hummer, go right ahead, it’s America! Just don’t go and try to convince everyone it’s a green vehicle….I’m guessing you’re a political conservative like me. It’s comments like yours that make the liberals think we’re all a bunch of “crazy right wingers.” Luckily a lot of conservative news sites and famous conservatives have started endorsing electric cars, especially Tesla, as they see things the way I do.

              Have a good day.

    • Donna Anders

      Correct me if I am wrong….dont you have to replace the batteries every 7 years at the tune of up to $7k? I “heard” that you do so I am not sure?

    • Joyce

      My family has been wondering about the ins and outs of these cars. Thanks for the information!

    • tori729

      I think a hybrid car would be great but the price tag scares me off. And we wouldn’t get any credits because we never owe money.