I don’t own a car. I found myself in a desperate situation where I was not able to meet all of the payment obligations that I had and I was slowly drowning in debt. I needed to do something drastic and my decision was to get rid of my car. This was over a year ago.
At the time everyone I knew thought that I was crazy. I even thought I was crazy. There isn’t anything more un-American than not owning a car. When I made the decision I wasn’t sure if it was going to be even possible to live without a car, but I felt I had no other choice. Now that I have lived without it for awhile, I wish I had done it sooner. It was by far the best thing that I could have done. I no longer even want to own a car.
The decision to get rid of the car was by no means an easy one. I am a single mother with a two-year-old child. The nearest store and its shopping center is about 5 miles from my house so having a bike is not the most convenient way to go shopping. Still, even though I can now afford a car, I choose to only have a bike.
While I ride my bike almost every day, there are times when I need to use a car. On days that it rains, I usually have a friend come and we carpool into work. There are times when I need to buy a large amount of groceries and I will either have a friend drive or call a taxi to get this accomplished. Even when I have to pay for things like a taxi or occasionally rent a car, I still come out far ahead than if I owned my own car.
While not having a car poses some problems, overall they are small to what I gain in return. I realise that not everyone can get rid of their car, but a lot more people can than think it is possible. These are the 10 reasons that I don’t have a car and don’t want one:
No car payment: I do not have a car payment that drains several hundred dollars a month from my bank account. This is money that I can save for more important purposes in my life — mainly, by forgoing a car, I will be able to help my little girl go to college while still being able to build a retirement fund for myself.
No car insurance: In addition to not having a car payment, I don’t have to pay twice a year for car insurance. For me, this adds up to almost another $1000 in savings.
No pain when gas prices increase: While everybody else is worried about the price of gas and the rising costs of operating their cars, I don’t think about it at all. Since I don’t have to purchase gas, it has very little effect on my lifestyle and I don’t need to figure out how to squeeze higher gas prices into my monthly budget like I used to.
No car repair bills: One of the worst things that can happen when you own a car and are living paycheck to paycheck is to have it break down on you. All of a sudden you have a several hundred dollar car bill that needs to be paid right away in order to get you back on the road, but not the money to pay for it. I no longer have to worry about these unexpected expenses. While my bicycle may need to get a tuneup every once in awhile, it is far less expensive than anything a car would cost.
Better health: Not having a car gets me off my lazy butt and outdoors much more often than if I had one. The direct result of this is that I’m in much better health than I would be if I owned a car. In fact, I’ve lost about 15 pounds since making the switch.
Environmentally friendly: An added benefit of not having a car is that I’m doing my part to help the environment. While I do not expect everyone to quit using their cars, I think that everyone should make an effort where they can to help the environment. This is one of the ways that I am able to do this.
No gym membership: A month after I bought my bike and sold my car, I cancelled my gym membership. Since I ride my bike to work, I’m in much better health than I would be if I owned a car. I get plenty of exercise on my own and don’t need to shell out the $30 a month I was paying to try to keep myself in shape.
Better organization: Due to having only a bike, I must plan my trips much more carefully and not having a car has made me become more organized. In fact, a side effect of getting rid of the car was that my monthly grocery bills dropped by about $200 a month. The bike forces me to always shop with a list (because I’m not making another trip if I accidentally forget) and I can only carry so much stuff back (so no impulse purchases) that my shopping bills naturally went down.
Less stress: While I will readily admit that a car is more convenient, the amount of money that it requires was making my life extremely stressful. The car had me in a position where I felt like I needed it to survive, but it was costing me so much that I was always in negative numbers when the end of the month rolled around. Now that I don’t have a car or the costs associated with it, I no longer have the financial stress that I had before.
A much healthier bank account: What this all adds up to is that I have a much healthier bank account than I would ever have if I still owned a car. Instead, I am able to add hundreds of dollars to my savings account each month and put away some for both my and my daughter’s future.