My last attempt to avoid buying a car

As my debt goes down and my life continues to become more unmanageable without a vehicle, I’m trying to find ways to get along without a car until I can afford one. Up until recently, my strategy for living car-less in a very pedestrian unfriendly city has been:

  • taking obscenely long rides on public transit
  • making family drive me around as necessary
  • simply not going to something when I can’t get there =(

Unfortunately for me, this is unsustainable. So last week in a last ditch attempt to avoid buying a car, I signed up for a car-share program that will let me rent a vehicle for everything from a few hours for a trip to the grocery store to a weekend to take a trip to the mountains. The downside is that now my transportation costs will go up. I expect that I will probably be renting a car through this program a few times a month, and that’s going to cost me anywhere from less than $100 to… well, maybe a few hundred dollars each month. What I’m going to try to find out is, is it cheaper to rent a car occasionally than to buy one of my own?

 

beep beep!

Costs that I’m currently avoiding by using a car-share are:

  • car payments
  • fuel
  • maintenance
  • insurance

 

Well, I’m not really avoiding all of those because they’re included in the rental fee, but it’s a fraction of what I’d pay for ownership.. or is it? In the past year I’ve considered everything from a used Mazda 3 to a Lexus SUV. My dream car is still a Mini Cooper (see photo above!), even though I feel they’re somewhat impractical.

Gas, maintenance, and insurance depend on the type of car I buy. Of those things, insurance is probably the most variable. Your driving record affects how much you pay, but you also have some choices to how much and what kind of insurance you purchase. I’ve had friends try to cut corners by only purchasing collision insurance and forgoing comprehensive insurance. This will lower your monthly payment but also leave you responsible if anything else — like theft! — happens to your vehicle. When I buy a car, I wonder how my driving record will affect my insurance premiums. I’ve had my driver’s license for 10 years, but I only owned a car and drove regularly for about 4 years. On the upside, taking the past few years to get my financial ducks in a row and establish an emergency fund means I can comfortably opt for a higher deductible, which will lower my monthly car insurance payments.
Now if I could only do something to lower gas prices..