Americans have a love affair with their automobiles. One of the first ways people want to show off their economic status is through buying a nice vehicle. Even the poorest college student is likely to have a car, though it may be a bit worse for wear. In fact, “Americans own an average of 2.28 vehicles per household, and more than 35 percent of households own three or more cars” (New York Times ).
Surviving in America without a car is counterculture and can make life difficult, especially if you live in the suburbs or the country. However, there are times selling your car might be just the right thing to do.
How Much Can You Save Without a Car?
AAA estimates that it costs $8,100 a year to own a car, according to the New York Times . How much getting rid of a car can save you depends on your personal situation. However, most people pay for gas, insurance, repairs, maintenance, car payments, and license fees.
We are already a one car family, and our car is completely paid off, but we have still thought of selling it to get out of student loan debt faster. This is how much we would save a year if we got rid of our car, and we are a conservative example:
- Car insurance: $740
- Gas: $2,400
- Yearly Registration: $99
- Repairs and Maintenance: $1,517 (this is anecdotal and based on our expenses this year for our 8 year old car with 110,000 miles on it)
- Total – $5,039 or $419 a month
(Keep in mind, this expense would be significantly higher if we had a car payment as many Americans do.)
We would not be able to reap all of the savings because we would still need to get around with a vehicle occasionally, so we would have to take a transportation alternative. Still, even if we rented a car once or twice a month, it wouldn’t cost us more than $200 per month, so we would still save at least $219 a month.
The idea of giving up your car may be a bit scary, but there are plenty of alternatives.
- Public transportation: If you live in a bigger city with good public transportation, you can take the bus or train. We live outside of Chicago, and my husband has taken the train for 11 years with very few problems. He has about a half mile walk to the station and back, which helps him get his daily exercise.
- Taxis: Cabs and taxis are always available. However, this option can get expensive, so you will want to use it sparingly.
- Rental cars: Did you know that you can rent a car for a day for less than $30? If you have a number of errands to run, wait and do them all on the same day, when you rent the car. You could buy your groceries for the month so you don’t have to carry them on the bus or worry about a taxi picking you up.
- Share rides: Do you have a co-worker who lives nearby? Maybe she would give you a ride if you agree to pay half of the gas and some extra money for maintenance.
- Join a ride share program: Several larger cities have programs like iGo where you can make a 6 month commitment and pay $15 a month for borrowing a car at least 3 hours a month. Or if you don’t want to make a 6 month commitment, pay $6.75 per hour that you have the car and .40 per mile.
Considering getting rid of your car can be a scary thought. There is no doubt that cars make life easier and life can be inconvenient with only one, or none at all. However, there are significant savings if you can break the attachment to your car.
Would you consider selling your car? Why or why not?
(Photo: franganillo )