Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ditch the car to save money!

Many people think that they NEED to have a car.  I live in southern California, the place of carmageddon  and I'm here to tell you, you can do just fine without a car.

Common Excuses and Rebuttals:

Excuse #1:
I need a car for grocery shopping!

Reality Check #1:
Walking and biking ARE reasonable alternatives. In fact they benefit your health as well as your wallet leading you to a better lifestyle.  Grab a backpack and walk to your grocery store.  No, you won't be buying nearly as many items at the store and you will go more often but by buying only what you can (reasonably) carry you are also helping your budget stay in check.  This also makes it harder and less likely that you'll purchase expensive and non-nourishing products like a 12-pack of soda.  More health benefits!

Excuse #2:
Public Transportation in this country orarea is terrible.

Reality Check #2:
TRAFFIC in this area is terrible.  Public transport is available and is getting easier and easier to find/use thanks to google maps which will now outline various methods of getting places using public transportation.  Not only are the time values accurate (in my experience) but you can do work on your way to and from places and you benefit from reduced stress by NOT driving in the sea of crazy-out-of-control drivers.

Excuse #3:
I can't move closer to my work because that area is too expensive.

Reality Check #3:
There are areas everywhere throughout the city that offer cheaper deals on rent and housing.  The other possibility is to consider easy and direct public transportation routes to the places you frequent.  These will provide several possible living situations.  Yes, it takes a bit of work and thinking on your part but in the end it saves you so much time, money and stress.

Excuse #4:
Public transportation is only for ____ (insert some group of people) ___.

Reality Check #4:
Public transportation is for everyone who can get past the need of a car to boost their self esteem and drain their wallet.  You will see all groups of people using public transportation.  The only difference between those on a bus and those creating the massive traffic jams on the freeways is misguided PRIDE.  Why are people proud of throwing money down the drain, adding stress to their lives and further polluting our planet?

Excuse #5:
Sometimes there are just things you NEED to do with a car.

Reality Check #5: 
Just because you occasionally need a car, doesn't mean you have to buy one.  You can rent them!  Or join a car sharing program.  Or borrow cars from others.  There are all sorts of options that allow you to use a car without having to purchase and insure one all on your own!  Personally I'm a member of for which I pay a yearly fee and allows me to rent cars by the day or by the hour.  Even if I rented a car for the whole day once a month it's less expensive than just the INSURANCE (initial purchase price, gas and maintenance excluded!) on the used cars I was once interested in buying.  As an alternative this can also replace the second car in two car families helping them downgrade to becoming a one car family.  This works even better because you can rent the type of car thats appropriate for the job.  For instance if you plan on using the car to haul furniture around during a move, you can just rent a van and do everything that way.  If you plan on using the car for a long road trip, you can rent a car with a higher gas mileage.  The benefits are everywhere!

The costs of owning a car are incredibly high with the constant needs of filling, maintaining and insuring it.  These costs don't even take into account the purchase price of a vehicle.  If I had to pay insurance on a used car I wouldn't have any wiggle room to build up my emergency fund.  If you are living on a low income, ditching the car completely will free up the much needed cash to help you reach your financial goals.


  1. Great post! I'm impressed you live without a car in southern California. We also live in a car-dependent town, except there isn't traffic so cars really do cut down on transport time. My husband and I just consolidated to one though, so I think we're moving in the right direction.

  2. When I was an undergrad. for four years, I didn't need a car. I always took the bus to do some shopping and rode my bike to campus. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about today. As a graduate student, I commute to school, internship and work. I would have opt for a buss pass, but the locations are all spread out. Reading this blog made me realize how much I miss my days without a car.

    Charlotte @