Saturday, November 24, 2007

A friend of mine has set for himself the very achievable goal of no longer owning a car. In his estimation he only leaves town at most twice per month, and can easily walk, bike, or ride the bus/taxi to run his daily errands.

Cost of owning a car:
Fuel - $50-100/month
Insurance - $50-$100/month (depending up marital status, driving history, type of insurance, age, etc.)
Maintenance - $0-$300/month

Taking a guess for the median, the average monthly cost of car ownership, assuming the car has been paid for in full, is ~$200-$300.

Cost of using alternative transportation and renting when needed:
Fuel - $0-$50/month (refueling rental vehicle given my friend's driving habits)
Insurance - $0/month
Car rental - $0-100/month
Bus - $0/month (students ride for free, but the cost for non-students isn't exactly high)
Taxi - $10-$30/month (students ride for $1-$2 depending upon time of day)
Bike - $0/month
Walking - $0/month

Once again, taking a guess for the median, the average monthly cost of alternative transportation for a student is ~$95/month. I imagine it is in the range of ~$150-$200 for non-students.

That's a ~$100-$200 gap for students, which further widens if the car has not been paid for in full (required full coverage insurance plus monthly car payment). In a single year, that is $1200-$2400. That's a free vacation to the exotic location of your choice.

In Linnea's and my case this simply is not possible: Linnea commutes 60+ miles round-trip every weekday, and if we moved closer to her work I would need to commute every day to school. However, this is a goal worth working towards. In the mean time I'm doing what I can to head off the maintenance costs by performing repairs on my own. We will also be reducing the coverage on the vehicle from full coverage to liability, which should result in significant savings. Linnea is also doing what she can by hooking up with other people for ride-sharing, which helps cover some fuel and maintenance costs.

I strongly encourage everyone to do the math with their driving habits, and to consider the benefits of a less car-dependent lifestyle. We haven't even discussed the environmental, physical, and social benefits, but even the weakest of imaginations should be able to explore the idea further without prompting.

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