I love my 2001 Saturn. Love it. 12 years of friendship. But it’s become just another complication in my life, which I’m trying to simplify. The insurance, the oil changes, the initial purchase price, fueling up at the end of a busy day, multi-hundred dollar repairs…waaahhh.
And now that I’m trying to swing living in two places at once—Seattle and Chicago—what do I do? Own two cars? Just keep the Seattle Saturn and let it molder, lonely, in the garage while I’m away?
Most important, I’m here to share ideas about reaching FI so you can live whatever life you can muster for yourself. Car expenses are a big part of that.
These ideas have been rattling around my brain for over a year now. Not coincidentally, they bubbled up around the time work became a misery. A few months ago, an answer manifested like MAGIC. Car sharing! That, along with walking (which I do a lot), public transit, and taxis, could do it for me. Thing is, I’ve been under the spell of the American Car Culture 4-ever, so it took awhile for this to percolate. But as of 8 days ago, I am the proud possessor of a Zipcar card. And I’m putting the Saturn in a resthome (handing it to a charity). You heard me right.
Now I know there are those of you who are wondering—maybe out loud—maybe even shouting—“what about a bike.” In reply, I refer you to my maiden post of yesterday, in which I stated “I love going out, drinking, and comfy hotels”. You’d be correct in thinking that means I don’t love biking around. But by all means, for those who bike, it’s a great and cheap alternative to owning and using a car.
I’m a numbers person. And I love tables, too. Also spreadsheets and bulleted lists. Long story short, here’s the bean counting:
|Expense||Zipcar in 2013||Saturn in 2012|
|Purchase price (divided by 12 years)||$25 (annual fee)||$1583|
|Repairs and maintenance (divided by 12 years)||$0||$700|
|Use of car||$600||$0|
|Use public transit and taxis||$900||$100|
I need to ‘fess up here—I am the kind of person who keeps service records. I know. But, that’s how I have an average of my repair and maintenance (batteries, tires, oil changes, whatnot) costs.
The final numbers are a kind of shocking. I’ve never totaled them up until this very moment. It’s a good thing I have a glass of wine to help me through this moment. Wow, what a fool I’ve been. Driving a car that cost about three times what car sharing does. Holy crap. I acknowledge that Seattle Saturn was a good pal to me. And I definitely love the convenience.
Further, I think it’s obvious to you that my car had a lower purchase price, insurance, and gas costs than larger and / or more expensive ones. Do your own math and see what you come up with.
By the way, here are the car sharing companies I looked at before choosing:
- Zipcar. I chose this because it’s in most cities I visit, and I like the usage model better than…
- …Car2Go, which I looked at, but realized I use cars more in the way that Zipcar is designed for.
- I-GO. [UPDATE: Now called Enterprise CarShare, still doesn’t operate in Seattle] This is a great service, and is run much like Zipcar. It’s also a bit less expensive. BUT, it’s only in Chicago. I need a service that also at least runs in Seattle.
Zipcar advertises a lot with “$75 credit for first month” ads. A pretty easy way to find an ad to click: search for “car sharing” on Google. It’s likely the ad will come up.
It comes down to what we’re willing to pay for ease and convenience. Too much ease and convenience is whittling down my ability—all our abilities—to live the life we want. There’s also evidence it’s giving us big butts, but that’s another post for another time (which I likely will never write). I’d rather use a bit more elbow grease and put the thousands toward whatever I want. A trip to Maui, saving $ to buy a rental property, or FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE. Because that, my friends, is what I’m writing about.