Thursday, June 7, 2007

Fugal Living: Saving 5K a Year and Being Healthy

I have an unusually fortunate living arrangement where I can walk to work. Having just gotten married a few years ago we combined households and ended up with two vehicles, mine was a 2001 Honda Accord that was paid off and the other was a 2004 Toyota Carola. After much procrastination I decided that I would see how long I could go without my own vehicle.

That was over a year ago.

AAA's own reports show that the cost of driving is quite a bit higher than just the gas. There is insurance, maintenance, taxes, registration, and finance charges. All said and done their latest report pegs the cost per mile at $.52 and that was then gas averaged $2.26/gallon. You can bet that value would be higher if they had taken the $3/gallon average into account.

I wasn't a big driver, so being conservative I was driving 10k/year on the Accord. This roughly translates into 5K a year in savings by selling the vehicle.

In The Beginning

I started with a simple goal; go 30 days without driving my car. That was easy enough to reach. Besides having to move the car in the driveway once it was no problems. The days of bad weather made me question what I was doing and getting up earlier in the morning ( never really been a morning person ) was difficult in the beginning.

As Time Went On

I had to drive the car at least once a month to make sure everything was still working well. I did cheat a few times and drive it when I didn't need to, but it was just sitting there otherwise collecting tree debris. It was getting to the point of comical when my wife asked me to sell the damn thing already, and I did last december. I used the proceeds to top up our Roth IRA's for the year and stuffed a bunch into out high yield savings. Part of the proceeds ended up paying of my wife's vehicle this spring so we are now 1 car and 0 car loans!

It's Not Just 5K a Year

But not only am I saving money hand over foot ( pun intended ) it is much healthier since I'm getting between 30 and 45 minutes of walking in a day! Although this has yet to translate into massive weight loss, I do feel better most of the time. If there is the occasional downpour or snowstorm my wife can drop me at work since it's not that far out of her way.

While "no car" might not be feasible for those with a long commute, those where it might be a possibility I highly recommend it to anyone where it is a possibility. Even after talking all of this into account if you have access to public transportation it's still a huge savings even without the health benefits.

The extra money this year has come in handy as my wife has been out of work for most of the year raising our daughter. There have been whole weeks where the car got used once or twice clocking in only a hundred miles a month. With my wife returning to work soon that will start to return to a normal level and scheduling may get more interesting, but for 5K a year I can deal.

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