How I Accidentally Saved Over $8,500 a Year with My Car
So how did I accidentally save all that money with my car? The short answer is I sold it for personal reasons and accidentally saved thousands of dollars a year as a result.
Several years ago I became really tired of commuting in my car. I live in Portland, Oregon and the traffic is getting worse and worse as the population increases. Driving was really stressful and was making me miserable. I didn’t like the impact that my driving was having on the environment either.
I decided to walk, ride my electric bike, and take public transportation to replace the trips that I took in my car. The extra time it took to get to my destination was more than replaced by the benefits of improved health and money saved. How much money? It turns out to be a lot of money, more about this later.
My new transportation strategy was so effective I was hardly using my car at all. One day I went to get gas and had to break the gas cap cover because it had frozen shut from lack of use. Time to sell the car.
I sold the car over two years ago for $4,000. I don’t miss it for a second and feel really good about it for several reasons. The money from the sale was just a bonus.
It wasn’t until later that I discovered what the true costs were and how much I’m saving by not owning and driving a car.
The True Cost of Owning and Driving a Car
Owning and driving a car has several costs, both direct and indirect. Direct costs are paid directly out of your budget and include gas, insurance, etc. Indirect costs are the hidden costs of driving that affects everyone. These costs include fees, taxes, health, environmental, etc.
Curious about how much it might be costing you to drive? View a complete description of the typical costs and read supporting documents, or plug your numbers into a calculator that lets you to see what your costs are based on your driving patterns.
I drove my car an average of 6,300 miles per year. Using the true cost calculator, that means I’m saving over $6,000 a year in direct costs and $2,500 in indirect costs for a total of $8,500 per year.
The average American drives around 12,000 miles per year with a direct cost of $11,520, an indirect cost of $4,680, and a total cost of $16,200.
What’s the true cost of your car?
What if You Absolutely Have to Have a Car?
Fortunately for me, Portland has many transportation alternatives. It’s notorious for being a bicycle friendly city. It has good public transportation and lots of local communities within walking distance.
However, the further outside of the city you get, the less transportation options there are. This is true for most suburban housing developments. The reality is, for most people, it’s not possible to go completely car-free for many reasons. But even facing those realities, it’s still possible to reduce the costs of car ownership and the number of miles driven.
Look for ways to reduce driving or downsize your car budget. Use all of the alternative transportation options you can to offset the need to drive. Be creative and save money.
Alternative Transportation Options
There are many alternative options for transportation. They may not be as convenient as using a car but they can be a fun and healthy way to save money.
The following is just a few ideas for transportation alternatives. See which ones you can use.
Walk – For round trips around 1 mile, walking is a great way to get around and is a very healthy activity.
Bike – This is a fun way to get around and can extend your range by miles. Combine biking with public transportation and you can go very long distances for very little money.
Electric Bike – This is as fun as bicycling with the benefit of being able to haul more cargo and smooth out the hills using less effort. After the initial cost of the e-bike, they are a very economical mode of transportation. I use my eBikes for everything and this is an effective car replacement.
Public transportation – Let someone else do the driving. You can relax and catch up on your reading. Walk at the start and end points. Get some fresh air and exercise too.
Share a car – Have a one-car household, and share a car between friends and family.
Carpool – Take turns driving. Sleep or read instead of driving every day and use less gas.
Telecommute – Make arrangements with your current employer or find a job where you can work at home a few days of the week or even full time.
Economy car – Get a smaller, more fuel efficient car with lower insurance rates.
Car rental – Rent a car when you need one instead of owning. There are many rental car services that offer reasonable rates. There are services like Zip Car that make renting a car very quick and convenient.
Truck or SUV rental – Rent a truck for a day and combine all of your truck activities into one rental then be done with it. No need to drive all of that cargo area around if you only use it once in awhile.
Shop online – Have items delivered directly to your home, sometimes for free.
Can you think of others?
My motivation to eliminate my car was for personal reasons. The accidental savings of the true cost of driving and owning a car was a pleasant surprise.
There are many alternatives to driving. If you want to save money, avoid the urge to hop in the car and drive, and take advantage of the alternatives instead. You can save a lot of money.