Saturday, June 2, 2007

Take a Break from Car Ownership: Know Your Basic Transportation Options

Money Smart Life knows a guy who lost his car and is staring at 20% interest to finance an emergency replacement.

The burdens of automobile ownership are common enough that this guy's situation is a good invitation for all of us to reject the trapped mindset and remind ourselves of all the options we have. Problems like his are good opportunities to reevaluate monthly expenses and often provide a healthy jolt to put yourself on a better path.

Here was my initial reply:

One option is to take a break from car ownership (including insurance, unless he’d have a renewal problem later), get rides to work, and pay cash for a cheap car in a few months. Whether you can tell him is another matter.
"No car" often means that you spend less on other things by making fewer shopping trips and therefore fewer unnecessary purchases at stores or eating out. Whether you go car-less for a few weeks or for longer depends upon your situation. You might even grow to like it when you see your bank account.

Here are more-detailed options:
  • Get rides from co-workers or friends or family (offer gas money; you still are saving a bundle).
  • Take the bus (an extra hour to conform to the bus schedule might “pay better” than driving to a second job to pay 20% interest so you can drive to the second job).
  • Bicycle to work while the weather’s nice (and no need for gym fees to stay healthy).
  • Stay worknights at a friend’s or relative’s home if they are within walking distance of your work (offer grocery money).
  • Now might be a good excuse to save housing money by downsizing to a cheaper home that is within walking distance of work (or within bicycle or bus distance of work).

As usual, you have many ways to save money if you stop to think.

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