Driving Force: Ditching your car could save you plenty

Posted By: Matt in Budget on 02/10/2014 at 08:11:32

If you're ready to get serious about saving money, you need to start looking in the places that matter most and focus on those big ticket items thought to be previously off limits.

Sure, you can stop spending money at restaurants and start cooking at home.

You can cancel that expensive cable and start living off the equally entertaining, albeit less expensive alternatives like Hulu and Netflix.

And that every Friday shopping excursion or hitting the malls freshly after just being paid might have to be put on hiatus.

But what if your financial predicament is more than just a few hundred dollars per week, and you're as close to sinking into insurmountable debt with little chance you'll be able to swim away cleanly.

That realization simply means it's time to pull out all the stops and start trimming the financial fat in your budget that you often assumed was untouchable.

That includes, for starters, your car.

For some, getting rid of a vehicle completely isn't possible, especially if that commute is quite lengthy and you don't exactly live within walking distance to a bus station or stop. But that doesn't mean you can't downsize and lose that massive $300-400 car payment every month, and trade down for the sake of saving your financial freedom.

Consider that trading in a newer, expensive car for one you can own outright could mean less money spent on insurance and socking away that car payment every month. The average car payment flirts with the $300 mark, with the average term of a car at five years. That's roughly $20,000 saved over that time period without a car payment. That's not figuring about $100 per month in insurance costs and gas prices that teeter around $3 per gallon.

So, now you're thinking how are you going to survive with an old, possibly unreliable car· Suggesting that you should trade in your 2010, 11 or 12 vehicle for one that was born before you were isn't what is being put on the table.

This option is more along the lines of finding something crafted in the early 2000s that is modest, reliable and good enough to get you to that aforementioned bus station for the purposes of getting to work. Even if you're without a car, most cab services from your home to public transportation isn't going to cost you that much.

The trick to living without your wheels is to plan accordingly. If you're a family and you and your spouse are both working, try to figure out a drop off plan, and you may be able to turn a two car family into a one car one without much fanfare or transition.

Until you truly come to grips that you may be able to live life without a car, you're simply going to be spinning your wheels financially.

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