Ditching Your Car
If you read my article on How To Save Money Before You Travel, you’ll remember that I suggested selling your car unless it was an absolute necessity. Well, full disclosure, until recently, I didn’t practice what I preached. My dirty little secret was a dark blue Mazda named Maisie, and boy was I was attached. At the time, I really did feel that having a car was necessary. Thankfully, I’ve cut the cord on that expensive relationship and my only regret is not having done it sooner. Here are a few reasons why you should do the same.
Think About the Money
Sure, this is an obvious one. Of course you’ll save money by not having a car. But have you thought about just how much money you’d be saving? There are the obvious ones; monthly car payment, insurance and gas, but let’s not forget the other often overlooked costs.
Cars are far from perfect machines. They require regular maintenance to continue running well. Aside from the standard oil change here and there, you’ll also need to address parts breaking down after a while. Live in a traffic-heavy area? You’ll need new brakes before you know it. Local road filled with potholes? Kiss your shock absorbers goodbye. Put in a lot of miles on the daily commute? Better set aside some money for new tires. Let’s also not forget parking fees if you live in a city, as well as yearly registration fees and taxes.
When I stopped to add it all up, I realized my car was costing me a little over $500 per month. That’s $6,000 or more in a year! Do you know how long you could travel in Southeast Asia for that much money?! Take some time to make a list of all your car-related expenses that have come up over the last month or two. The amount you could be saving may surprise you.
The Mental Freedom
The first week without my car felt awful. I was like a fish on land; incapable of doing little more than flopping around the apartment with anxiety. But like any other first world inconvenience, it eventually passed, and when it did, I felt a weight off my shoulders that I never realized existed.
I didn’t need to worry if I had parked on the wrong side of the street for street cleaning. No more fighting for parking spaces downtown like a game of vehicular musical chairs. I was free. I used to dread the thought of commuting via public transportation, but now I have time to write blog posts on the train or get caught up on a book. On top of that, I’ve started noticing things in my neighborhood that I never knew existed!
This awesome graffiti, for example.
If you have to fight rush hour traffic after work, just think of how much you could get done with that time if you didn’t need to operate a vehicle. I can honestly say that the minor inconveniences of not having a car are vastly outweighed by the mental unburdening that comes with it.
Here’s to Your Health
Getting rid of your car will ease more than just your financial and mental burdens; it will help you shed a few physical ones as well. A great benefit/side effect of having to walk everywhere is the improvement in your overall health that comes along with it. When cardio is your primary means of transportation, you won’t mind wasting fuel.
Can you honestly say that you walk as much as you should every day? I know I personally spend far too much time sitting in front of a computer. When I had my car, traveling just meant moving from one seat to another. Now, if I need to get somewhere, it involves getting off my butt and being active. Sure, it takes a little longer to get to the grocery store, but I find I have more energy now and my old man knees are feeling better every day.
So to wrap this all up, ask yourself if you truly need your car. If the answer is no, do yourself a favor and sell it. You’ll have much less to worry about, and a lot more money to spend on things that mean the most to you. If you find you really do need it, then check out my article on Uber vs. Lyft: Which should You Drive For to help cover some of the costs.