Toward a more self-reliant life

I've been reading and talking to people a lot lately about becoming more self-reliant: cooking from scratch (which I'm generally pretty good about) making my own when I can or buying used when I can't, and making plans for starting an indoor garden (I have no green space where I live - woe is me!). Yesterday I took my car in to get some things tuned up so I could pass emissions and found out that the expected repairs came to around $2k. This totally sunk me, as you can imagine. I bought the car used a few years ago - a 2003 Toyota Corolla. It's a cute car and I love it, but the repairs I've had to put into it over the past 6 months have been staggering. I only owe about $4k on the car and paying for these new repairs would mean putting more money into it than it is worth. Considering I've been working on being debt-free (my car is the only thing I owe money to anyone for), this was a big blow. I don't want to put money into my car and I don't want to trade it in for a newer car and more debt. Is it possible to just get by without a car? This made me pretty emotional. I've lived in the city my whole life. My family has never been without a car, so I've never had to live without the luxury of one. What if there's an emergency? How will I take the cats to the vet? What about grocery shopping? I'll never be able to leave the city limits! When I calmed down a bit and stopped hyperventilating for a minute I started thinking about the logic in it. I usually stay within 5 miles of my house. I tend to work from home, but my office is less than a mile away. I live in a city with [debatably] decent public transit. I wonder how much money I could save? So I did the cost benefits analysis. You know, because I'm a giant geek. (numbers based on what I've spent over the past 6 months) Average monthly cost for gas - $90 Average monthly cost for insurance - $100 Average monthly cost for repairs- $167 Monthly cost for car loan - $150 Average monthly cost for parking - $4 Total Average cost per month $511 Alternate forms of transportation

  • Biking
    • Cost of new bike - approx $500
    • Panniers (for carrying groceries and such) - approx $50
    • Approximate yearly maintenance cost (from my boyfriend's brain) - less than $100
    • Cost in the first year: ~$650
  • ZipCar (Costs include gas, insurance, & 180mi/day)
    • Signup fee - $25
    • Annual fee - $50
    • Weekday/hr - $8
    • Weekday/day $66
    • Weekend/hr $9
    • Weekend/day $72
    • Cost in the first year (assuming using on average 2 full days/mo and 10hrs/mo): $2800
  • Megabus & Amtrak (for trips to Chicago to see family - the furthest I ever drive)
      • Megabus round trip average: $20-60
      • Amtrak round trip average: $39
      • Cost in the first year (assuming 6 trips/yr):$180
        • City bus
          • Cost per ticket (if I buy in advance): $1.75
          • Cost in the first year (assuming 15 trips on average/mo): ~$315

        So in the end, the numbers come out to:

    Car - $6132 in the first yr, Carless - $4500 in the first year

        (probably a high estimate, too!). I can save about $1,500 in that first year just by not owning my car - obviously that number goes down after the initial cost (bike, panniers, signup fee for Zipcar = $575). This doesn't include the intangible benefits of being more self-reliant, being more intentional with how I used my resources, the extra exercise, spending more time outside, having to wait for the bus in a Wisconsin winter, having fewer options when the unexpected happens, the cliche that time=money and that it'll take longer to get places without a car, etc. I'm gonna keep doing my research before I make the big decision, but I'm leaning more toward not owning a car. Over the next few weeks I'm going to go out of my way to walk, take public transit, or bike to places and see how I feel then.

    Is your household carless?

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