Pros and Cons of Owning a Car

Getting around without owning a car.

Ann Leach

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Image created by Ann Leach

A few months ago, I ended my marriage by moving out of the family home. This was a complete starting over at zero for me in that I had been the parent at home raising our daughter, facilitating and overseeing her homeschooling, and doing all the rest that goes along with those duties.

It all was going well until it wasn’t and suddenly not only was I not employed but I had given away a significant part of my earning years and had no financial security to look forward to.

One of the decisions I had to make when I moved out with my daughter was whether to take one of the family cars.

When I chose the apartment I moved into, I looked for one in a location that was within a 20-minute walk or bicycle ride of all of my needs and most of my wants. And found it.

  • Grocery store — 10 minute walk
  • Beauty salon — 1 minute walk
  • Library — 20 minute walk
  • Parks — 1 minute walk — 20 minute bicycle ride
  • Friends — 10 to 20 minute walk
  • Train station — 10 minute walk
  • Restaurants — heaps of them within a 15 minute walk

So was it worth paying the registration, insurance, maintenance, and repairs on a car that at most I would be driving a few times each month?

I was uncertain, so I made a spreadsheet.

Screenshot of the spreadsheet I used to compare the costs of owning a car against not owning a car. I included car rental, bicycle purchase and maintenance/repairs, public transportation and shoes on the not owning a car side. On the owning a car side, I included insurance, repairs/maintenance, replacement, fuel, registration, and adjusted public transportation, bicycle purchase and maintenance repairs, and shoes. Screenshot by Ann Leach.
Screenshot of the spreadsheet I used to compare the costs of owning a car against not owning a car. I included car rental, bicycle purchase and maintenance/repairs, public transportation and shoes on the not owning a car side. On the owning a car side, I included insurance, repairs/maintenance, replacement, fuel, registration, and adjusted public transportation, bicycle purchase and maintenance repairs, and shoes. Screenshot by Ann Leach.

In the two columns, no-car expenses and car expenses, I included every expense related to transportation that I could think of including shoe replacement which is higher on the no-car side than on the car side due to walking more.

The numbers (amount of dollars that would be spent) clearly come out significantly lower on the no-car side.

No-car = $189/month compared to Car = $516/month

That is with no car including $100 each month set aside for car rental for camping trips.

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