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Ouch, cars are pricey! :(

August 16th, 2006 at 06:02 am

I've been thinking of buying a car.

I don't even have a driver's license yet.

Everyone thinks I'm some sort of weirdo-freak for not driving (um, grew up in New York City?) and is not sure how I get by without one (by walking, taking public transportation and carpooling?). People keep telling me that I'll need to get a car eventually, so stop resisting already. But I counter by saying that I get along fine, and I'm saving loads of money--and the environment, to boot.

Why am I finally considering it? Because I'm a sucker who misses her bf in Middletown, and he doesn't drive either. If I moved back to Middletown, I could room with him for cheaper rent, but I'd have get a car and drive to New Haven to work.

So I thought I'd crunch some numbers and get a sense.

According to my father, he says I should expect to spend $4000 to $6000 on a decent, fuel-efficient used car. I'll trust him, since he's neither trying to sell me a cheap junker that will get me killed, nor persuade me to overspend on something I don't need.

Now, I just signed a one year lease in New Haven. That means I'll have a year to save (and learn to drive!), since I'd really rather not take out a car loan.

I'd have to put away $500 per month to reach $6000 in 12 months.

This does not include:

- driving lessons (at $30/hr)
- driver's license test ($40)
- actual license ($77)
- license plate/registration ($150)

And then after I get the car, I have to continually feed it money monthly. Here are the figures, as far as I can estimate them:

- insurance: $800/year (get it with my family)
- parking: $90/month (ouch, right??!) EEK!
- gas: 60 miles/day round-trip at 30 mpg and $3/gallon for 25 days = $150/month
- maintenance: ???
- property tax: $360/year

Rounding up on the gas, since I'm sure that particular figure is tragically optimistic, everything comes out to be about $400/month.

All of this (one year of saving $500/month, plus $400/month afterwards) for the opportunity to split $775/mo rent, heat not included. (I'm currently paying $500/mo w/ heat included.) Oh, and the joy of seeing my bf every day.

Wow, the frugal part of me is screaming that it is SO NOT WORTH IT.

Then why have I put saving for the car into my budget? Frown

Damn it. DAMN IT. *whacks oxytocin upside the head*

10 Responses to “Ouch, cars are pricey! :(”

  1. LuckyRobin Says:

    Just get a Vespa scooter or something. They are way cheaper to drive and the gas mileage is phenomonal. You have to take classes anyway to learn to drive so you might as well just take the motorcycle class instead. You can get a nice little used scooter for around $2000 or so.

  2. amberfocus Says:

    LuckyRobin: You know, that thought has actually crossed my mind. The reason it didn't stick is because I'd lose the benefit of being able to drive to the supermarket and carry groceries back. In Middletown, the closest supermarket is 1.5 miles away from where my bf lives. He actually walks there weekly to biweekly. I couldn't do it (especially in the winter!), and to make him carry groceries for two would just be cruel.

    But then again... There's a bus that goes to the supermarket that the bf refuses to take out of pure stubbornness. And there's always the "carry the groceries home in a backpack" method. So maybe it's possible. I'll definitely think about it.

    Could one of those things make it to New York, though? Extreme weather would probably be a limiting factor, as well. I wonder how easy it is to park? Hmm. Intriguing.

  3. ummabdullah Says:

    Try to find a car that runs on diesel.. Do they have cars that run on diesel in america.. also try to find a hybrid.. Like toyota prius..over here in europe they say that america had the most hybrids on the road at the moment. I think 30mpg is alot of gas. Over here in europe most cars run on diesel and small engines.. to the tune of 50 to 65 mpg. I am looking into a hybrid car that will give me 70 mpg.

  4. amberfocus Says:

    ummabdullah: I adore the new hybrids, but they are way out of my price range...

    http://money.cnn.com/2005/04/11/Autos/used_prius/?cnn=yes http://www.internetautoguide.com/usedcars/11-int/toyota/priu...
    I could do a cost analysis to see how long it would take a hybrid to pay for itself, but I certainly can't save that much in just one year, and I loathe to take out another loan. And I don't really want to think about the tax on a car worth that much...

    Don't know anything about diesel cars, though. I'll look into it. Maybe I'm just ignorant, but I generally think of farm equipment when I think "diesel vehicle".

    It's ironic, because you say that 30 mpg is a lot of gas, but actually, 30 mpg is considered excellent mileage here. I doubt used cars would have mileage that good (since it goes down as the car gets older). A more realistic estimate would probably use 20 mpg.

    Yes, this is the reason why I've avoided cars until now. Maybe I should continue to do so...

  5. debtfreeme Says:

    are there no public transportation between where your boyfriend lives and where you work? like commuter buses or something? I took one of those for almost a year from my small town to where i worked to the tune of 125 miles round trip. also, look into private carpooling. there are agencies around that will help you figure out a car pool system. usually it is around 40 a month in fees but cheaper than having to have a car so if you purchased one you might not have to drive as much as you think. also check with the hr/benefits office where you work, they might know of people who live where you want to live and you might be able to work out a car pooling situation with them even after you get your car, which could cut your costs by half or more, depending on who you commute with. there are lots of options out there. post a note on the board in a break or lunch room asking about carpooling in these times of high gas prices. just have to do some investigating.

    at least you have a year to decide. just keep up with the saving each month and you will be more prepared than if you had not saved at all. if you decide not to then you will have money for something else or just to grow until you decide you might need to.

  6. ima saver Says:

    Wow! I have been driving since i was 12.!!

  7. fern Says:

    what about public transport? if you've gotten by all these years without a car, why not tro to do it a bit longer cus those costs sure don't seem worth it.

  8. amberfocus Says:

    Regarding public transportation... Yes, it exists, and I've used it (hey, I've been a regular commuter since 5th grade!), but it is crappy crappy crappy. Did I mention that it is crappy?

    Here's the situation.

    Greyhound/Peter Pan Bus only runs on Fridays and Sundays for $12 per way. Obviously, that's not going to work.

    The way that I (and he) travel(s) between the two cities is via Amtrak plus a local shuttle bus. There are two reasons why it won't do.

    Firstly, it is inconvenient as hell. I would be doing 90 minutes of traveling one way (30 min bus, 30 min train, 30 min walking). In addition, the schedules of the bus and train don't match up, so I'd have a 1 hour layover in a sketchy, sketchy town. So that's already 4 hours of traveling per day. Furthermore, I'd have to leave work at 2:30pm every day to make the last bus to Middletown. Somehow, I don't think my boss would be okay with that. And I've thought about coming in earlier; I can only come in one hour earlier because that's the earliest bus available, so fudging my work hours won't work, either.

    Secondly, there's the cost analysis. Amtrak is $7 per way (peak fare), while the shuttle bus is $1.25 per way. So that's $16.50 per day. Multiply that by 25 workdays per month, and that comes out to be $412.50. Not really cheaper. I imagine there's probably some sort of monthly pass, and I can take this cost out pre-tax, but whoop-de-doo, it will still suck no matter how you cut it.

    I tried to see if CT Transit will do it, but I can't figure it out from their website. I'd be doubtful, since I think their service is mostly within, not between, the cities.

    And that's everything. Really. It's quite a pickle, wouldn't you say?

    ~mimi

  9. baselle Says:

    Well, you're not a freak. I don't own a car myself and I rarely drive one.

    Does New Haven have some sort of car sharing service? Out here in Seattle, we have Flexcar. 9$/hr, all costs included (including gas and insurance), and there are weekend packages.

    It looks like New York City has something, and while it is a little weird to commute to a car, I've done it...

    For information and monitoring purposes...
    http://www.carsharing.net/

  10. katwoman Says:

    Look into other options for driving lessons. Back in the stone age when I had drivers ed in high school, I remember my teacher telling us that it's too bad people don't know that they can attend drivers ed courses for FREE! The same one I was taking. Call around to the high schools in your area and see if that is available to you.

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