Last year, I did something different and calculated all my expenses for the year. I usually just budget for monthly expenses and leave it at that but this time, I was eager to see how much certain things have cost us over a span of 12 months.
I was shocked to see how much we spent on our two cars. My husband and I both have paid off cars, but they were still expensive to maintain. We spent about $1,080 on insurance, at least $2,040 on fuel costs, about $1,500 on maintenance and repairs, plus a slew of other expenses like toll fees and car registration costs.
Overall, this made me wonder if we would be better off financially if we became a one car family. We could essentially cut these expenses in half. What about living without any car at all? These expenses would be eliminated completely.
One of my friends recently decided to give up her car which made me wonder if people would live comfortably without a car. This is a serious question since I’ve owned a car since before I could drive. Still, if you’re wondering if you can live comfortably without a car and ramp up your savings as a result, here are some tips to help you make it work.
Reside in a Large City
This is literally one of the best ways to get by without owning a car. Some cities make it a hassle to own a car anyway. Cities like Chicago charge high monthly permit fees to allow residents to park their car outside their own home. Plus, if you go into the downtown area often, you will still likely have to pay to park. Plus, traffic in big cities can be pretty bad.
Knowing all this gives you all the more reason to not have a car. You can still get around by utilizing public transit which will likely be much cheaper than some of the gas prices.
You also won’t have to worry about parking fees and can even walk to some places if you live in an area that is pretty accessible. Walking or biking will allow you to get more exercise and explore your neighborhood.
Pick a Job That’s Close to Home
One of my first jobs was so close to home that I could often stop by my house during my 30-minute lunch break and visit my son. At one of my other jobs, I had a coworker who lived a block away from the office and I was always so jealous about how he didn’t have to sit in traffic and could likely even walk to and from work.
I understand that it’s not always realistic to work close to home but it is a goal you can shoot for. Again, when you choose where you live narrow down certain features and benefits that you want.
Do you want to be close to stores and restaurants? Do you prefer to be near office buildings or employers within your line of work? This would be a wise decision as it would save you commuting time and gas money. If you can walk or bike to work, you will find less use for a car.
Work From Home
This is also an option that may not be ideal for everyone, but more and more people are working from home these days so it could work for you too. Since I work from home, I often come to the realization that I probably don’t need a car and it’s just a luxury at this point.
I can make money and pay my bills right from my desk at home. I can also walk to a nearby store or cafe if I really wanted to get out of the house. There are so many jobs you can do from home including customer service, writing, virtual assistant work, marketing, consulting, nursing, transcription, legal work, and more.
If you have kids and they go to a local school, you may be able to even walk to the school for drop offs and pick ups or they can take the bus.
Use ZipCar For Errands
You probably don’t want to be a burden on friends and family just because you don’t have a car. That said, consider using ZipCar when you do need to run errands or drive to places that are further away.
Zipcar is a U.S.-based car-sharing service that provides car reservations to its members that are billable by the minute, hour or day. Members do have to pay a fee, but rates start as low as $7 per month or $70 annually and this includes insurance.
You can literally rent a basic economy car for $7-$10 per hour. Paying hourly will prompt you to run your errands in a timely manner. Plus, you won’t have to worry about maintaining the vehicle long-term.
Get Your Company to Pay For Your Public Transit
If you don’t have a car and need to take public transit to work, see if your employer can pay for this expense. While some forms of public transit are relatively cheap, other methods can add up quickly. For example, if you need to take the train into work each day, you may be able to get a weekly or monthly pass.
In my area we have the Metra train which takes passengers from the suburbs to the city. A monthly unlimited train pass can cost as much as $239.25 per month which isn’t horrible, but it adds up to $2,871 per year.
If your employer can pay that rate for you, you can still use the train unlimited for business and personal travel. This will free up more money in your budget in the event that you do need to use services like ZipCar or other methods of transportation.
Rely on Uber or Lyft Occasionally
Ridesharing companies can be a convenient way to get around when you don’t have a car – so long as you don’t overdo it. Set a budget regarding how much you wish to spend per month on Uber and Lyft rides.
Choose your rides wisely and only consider it an option if you can’t walk or take public transit. For example, you may want to use Uber once a week to go grocery shopping.
Depending on the distance, you probably won’t spend much. You can even lower your costs by referring friends and family to sign up for Uber and Lyft. You can share your referral code via email and social media. When someone signs up using your link, you’ll get credits that you can cash in for free rides.
It’s possible to live comfortably without a car and likely save thousands of dollars each year. Living without a car can free up more money in your budget so you can do other things. This may be easier to pull off in you live in a city, but it’s also doable if you’re in the suburbs as well.
Embrace alternate methods of transportation like public transit, biking, and even walking to help you get around. You’ll likely be healthier too in addition to having more cash in your wallet.