Car Free. Can You Do It? Would You Do It? What Is Stopping You?

I will be the first to admit that I have owned more than my share of vehicles in my lifetime.

I have bought them on loans,leased them and paid cash. I was even awarded one for being the best in business and another was given to me as part of my compensation at a job I once held.

I owned a fleet of vehicles for a business I operated in the past. I understand the implications of owning a vehicle all to well.

That is not what I want to talk about today.

I want talk about not owning vehicles.

Lets face it the damn things cost money!

The average U.S. citizen spends $270,000 dollars in there lifetime on transportation. That means some spend less and some spend more. There is purchasing,maintaining,insuring and operating cost and the whole time there value just keeps going down.

Seems like a sucker bet to own one but everyone wants one. And they don’t just want one they want a really cool one.

We have taken transportation and made it a thing of luxury.


It is eating up a large portion of your income and time to earn it.

What if you could eliminate the whole process from your life? What would that be like? Could you live in a place that allowed you to not feel the need for a car? Live close enough to work and shopping to walk,ride a bike or take the bus?

How much would you save if you did not have to pay for a car every month? How much more time would you have if you did not have to work to pay for a car? Would you be healthier as a result? walking and biking is great exercise.

Here is a biggie!

What would everyone else think? What would they say? Are you worried about that?

Is owning a car a form of social acceptance for you? A status symbol? Or a way to show your worth and accomplishment? If so we need to flip that in this culture. Lets make not owning one a better measure as socially responsible. The benefits are great and the biggest is freedom and self reliance. Try not using your car for a day. Then try it for a week. it will take some planning but you may even park your car for a month and see what happens.

The change in your life just might be fantastic!

You could sell your car if it is costing you a lot in payments or operating cost and get a smaller used one as an occasional or emergency back up. Buy a beater with a heater as they call them. Very little to own and operate.

If you can go a year with out needing it maybe just get rid of it and you are free! Just think of the possibility. 2.5 billion people ride bikes world wide.

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Leave A Reply (4 comments so far)

  1. David B
    4 years ago

    I agree that we need to loose the idea that a car is a status symbol. In many cases, it just tells us you know how to waste money. It’s also more of a guys thing – women are more likely to get a practical vehicle than a status one.

    But you can’t be too black and white about it. Some people do need a vehicle for various reasons. But for many, “need” is relative and they don’t recognize how much it’s costing them. Like going Tiny Home, a lot of the rat race is about paying for excess. George Carlin has a great skit on the topic – we need house to store all our stuff. And a car to get more…

    My sister, an accountant, has not had a car in years. I sold my car awhile back then was out of the country. When I got back, a friend gave me an old car. I thought it would be useful while I settled back here but I’ve ended up being the only one in the family with a car, so I’ve kept it for now. It gets light use and is prone to grow things in the window mouldings. Have no plans to replace it.

  2. Trey S.
    4 years ago

    I pay $135 a month for both gas and insurance. I haven’t had a car payment since 1999. Paying cash for a good used car is the only way to go. When I was younger I would buy a new car like it was nothing and pay $500 a month for 5 or 6 years….which I realize is complete insanity now.

    It’s funny as we get older we become so much wiser. As the saying goes, ” I wish I knew then what I know now”…rings so true!

    I’m been thinking about getting a scooter to run around town and save even more on gas.

    Thanks for your good ideas on living the self reliant life style.

  3. roobah
    1 year ago

    In 3 days (Feb 2017) it will be 6 years since I have been 100% reliant on other forms of transportation to do everything I need to do. After deciding I really could do this, in April of 2011 I drove my 2000 Jetta across country and gave it away to my brother (I estimated it was still worth about $800 by then and was still getting about 34 mpg, but needed some TLC).

    In return, I give my son $50/mo to put me on his full-coverage insurance policy. He gets the benefit of a lesser payment and I get the benefit of having access to full-coverage insurance should I need to rent a car.

    Public transportation in my city runs 7 days a week from about 4:30 AM – 12:30 AM, and the routes I need run from about 5:45 AM – 12:30 AM. It is pretty rare that I need a ride somewhere between 12:30 AM and 5:00 AM anyway.

    My employer provides a paid-for monthly metro train / bus pass for me to get to work and back, but it’s an unlimited ride pass, so I use it for everything else, too. I live about 3 miles from work and take a bus where I don’t have to make a connecting change, so no time is lost waiting for another connection. I live 1 block from all major bus routes in the center of a major city where the busses fan out in a spiral shape away from the center of town where I live.

    While I can ride other public transportation to other forms of transportation, I actually live close enough to walk to trains, that go to the airport, Greyhound bus station, Amtrak station, and three car rental locations (2 Enterprise, 1 Budget) to rent a car if needed. If I wanted there is also an Enterprise CarShare program with the closest car about 7 (short) blocks away — but I don’t use it. I DO use Enterprise’s $9.99/day car rental program Friday – Monday ($34 tax included) when I really need a car to go do other shopping or take a trip out of town or date night. I rent a car about 6 times a year on average (I already insurance, remember)? Once I rented a car for 2 weeks to take a trip across country and that cost me about $200+ gas (I shopped for a deal). The nice thing about Enterprise is while I live close enough to walk, they will also provide me with a one-way or two-way ride with coordination (the best deal).

    Given that I have to do grocery shopping without a car (usually doing it by bus), I take advantage of online shopping to order bulk items (toilet paper, kitty litter, laundry soap, etc.) and buy fresh food on bus trips. I specifically bought my very cheap small home 🙂 – Where I could shop cheap in one bus ride. Here’s the kicker: My home comes with a rare parking space that I own and don’t use in a downtown area, so I sometimes rent it out — the going rate is $85-90/mo in my area. I rent it out about 4 months of the year to neighbors, so I make a bit of money doing that.

    What does this save me? No car payment, no fuel payment, free transportation to work and back, limited insurance payment that goes to helping a relative with their own bills, no car repair bills, and a whole lot more money to spend on other things. (Generally all of my savings for this is going into my maxed out 401k in planning for retirement.)

    What do I get? The good: When I do get a car, I’m a regular customer with a good driving record, so Enterprise generally bumps me up to a higher class car when I wait until the end of the day to rent — actually that’s a problem. NO ONE who lives downtown wants a big car because of generally smaller parking spaces. Once they gave me a 1-ton truck on $9.99/day and I was NOT happy! The good thing is when that does happen, I take advantage of it to make a few trips to my storage unit — which has a bus stop right at their front door, so a few suitcase loads of stuff can be traded off. (Yes, I know I need to dump paying for a storage unit!)

    I estimate I save about $450-500 per month not owning a car. (Maintenance, licensing, taxes, gas, car payment, insurance, parking costs, washing and cleaning.) I do have a partial insurance payment and my own parking (which is rare in my area).

    What other savings do I get? I walk everywhere that I’m not riding a bus (I have a bike, too, but I don’t use it much), so I get exercise. It alters what I buy from a grocery store — purchases are planned better because I know I have to carry home everything I buy (I use a well-made full-sized suitcase on wheels for shopping). I do NOT drive over to a fast food place every time I am hungry — I almost never go out to eat at restaurants or fast food places, although I live in a foodie district and rarely, but sometimes do walk over to get something. I save a lot of money on food because I don’t own a car. I spend about $250-$300/mo on food for 2 plus a cat.)

    The biggest negative is that I also live in a very dangerous city, so I have to be street savvy when using public transportation. Guns are not allowed at my work or on public transportation, so any idea about using something like that to protect myself is not an option. I have had need to go to a vet a few times and pets, except service animals, are not allowed on public transportation, even in a cage. The nearest vet is about 3 miles away. My spouse did one time walk my pet all the way to the vet in a suitcase. Not the best option. Uber and similar wanted $30 to transport us 3 miles. NOT worth it! Another negative is if I really, really need a car, there are some days when a car just is not available to rent under any circumstances — like when the World Series is in town, or some other major event, and car rental bargains are not usually available during the summer months (Memorial Day – Labor Day).

    After living in a state where I had to drive 85 miles per day round trip to get to work every day, when I moved to my current city I did so with the plan that I would live close to work and planned to incorporate public transportation into my lifestyle and used that to determine where I would live. Based on typical costs, that is one way to save money to buy a mortgage-free home. (I did that, too, but that’s another story.)