Questioning the necessities – Owning a car

Growing up, I lived the rural lifestyle. I believed that part of becoming an adult was owning my own car. Often, owning a car makes a log of sense in a rural setting. Sporadic transit and long distances between amenities can make car ownership logical. Now I live in the city, and as part of a growing urban population, the necessity of owning a car is something that can seriously be questioned.

Costs of owning a car

After I graduated from university and landed my first well paying job, I was very excited that I had finally ‘made it’! I felt like I was entitled to start spending some of my hard-earned money. After researching and saving up money for a few months, I purchased a 2002 Suzuki Esteem wagon for under $4,000. Every month, an additional $400 went towards the maintenance, insurance and gas. However, as CF and I started looking for ways to live with less, I began to question the ‘need’ to have my own, dedicated car. I live in a city where transit is good and my neighborhood is ideally situated for walking to many amenities. The only time I felt that a car was really necessary (or at least a big help) was during our bi-monthly grocery shops.

Using a car share

Car sharing is becoming increasingly popular in larger cities for its financial, logistical and environmental benefits. By being a car share co-op member, I am able to save money by sharing the costs of buying and maintaining a vehicle with other members. This in turn benefits the environment by decreasing the number of cars on the road while allowing me to access to a vehicle whenever I need one.

Specifically, I belong to the Modo Coop, in Vancouver BC. Membership shares* cost $500 and are refunded when you leave the co-op. I pay $3/hr plus mileage (for rates, click here) which includes  gas, insurance, maintenance and roadside assistance at no extra cost!

* Contact me for a referral if you’re thinking of joining!

To find a car sharing organization visit carsharing.net. Car sharing organizations exist all over the world and it’s a good bet if you have one near you, you’ll find it there.

The bottom line

I use a car approximately once or twice per week. My monthly bill is well under $200. Over the course of a year, I save $2400. When I use the car less, I save even more. For me, the tradeoff from car ownership to car sharing has paid off. The extra money to makes a huge difference to my monthly finances and I won’t go back to owning a car anytime soon.

Posted in: Minimalism and Frugality, Philosophy

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