living-without-car

Could You Survive Without a Car?

As more and more people are being forced to edge toward frugal living, many of those people are also seeing the need to make tough financial choices. Some might be able to get away with just cutting back on little things like takeaway food, eating out or certain utilities. Others might have to go a little further and possibly start growing their own food – or if the man of the house is taking the brunt of the cutbacks – even brewing his own beer. What though if you’ve reached the limits of conventional cutbacks and still feel that you’re way off the mark of financial break even, what then? Is that it, or is there more that can be done?

Well there certainly are more drastic measures which you can take to massively help your finances, but the big question is ‘how far you are willing to go’?

Life’s biggest expenses

Taking kids out of the equation, what would you say are the two biggest expenses that you pay for in life? I’d say that the majority of people would answer that question quickly and easily in saying ‘my house and my car!’ Well it’s quite obvious that most people – especially if they have a family – cannot live without a conventional roof over their heads. Whilst it’s true that a drop in housing expectations could certainly reduce our outgoings dramatically, we do still need somewhere safe and warm to reside. So if we are going to say that one of the biggest financial outgoings in our lives is pretty much non-negotiable, what about the other one? What about our car?

How much does it cost to run a car in the UK?

After reading an article by a writer from The Telegraph discussing the average yearly cost of running a car in the UK, I’m going to play it safe and say that when you’ve included the cost of fuel, maintenance, insurance, servicing, breakdown cover, road tax and also depreciation/finance payments, then the average annual cost of running a car comes out at roughly £6000 a year. That’s £500 a month! Now I know that this is an average cost and you may not personally spend anywhere near that amount, but the chances are that you still spend A LOT.

But I Can’t Get Rid Of My Car, Can I?

Now this is where things really do get personal. I don’t mean that I’d like you to tell me your life story. I mean that the decision of whether it’s really possible to get rid of your car is completely dependent upon your own circumstances. It’s important though not to just casually toss the idea out of the window without first giving it an honest examination. If you think about the way your life is set up at the moment and try to make the decision based upon that, then your answer will more than likely be that there’s no way that you could give up your car. Instead take the time to consider whether there are any changes that you could make to help make car free living possible.

For example, if you currently use your car to drive to the supermarket, could you instead order your weekly food shop online? If you currently commute to work and back each day, could you cycle to work instead? I know that cycling to work in the rain each day isn’t everybody’s idea of fun but if it could save you almost £500 a month, would that make the idea worthy of serious consideration?

Would I give up my car?

The only reason I talk so much about not dismissing the idea of giving up a car is because many of the arguments that I’ve mentioned here are one’s that I use myself. My initial reaction to the question of could I give up my car would be ‘Not a chance’, but then could I?

If I were to change my lifestyle and circumstances a little, could those changes make a car free life possible? Maybe we should trial it. I’m really tempted to try living without a car for a month, just to see how I get on. Maybe I’ll hate the experience and wonder why I ever wrote this blog post. But maybe, just maybe I’ll love the fact that I have so much extra cash in my pocket, while also helping to save the environment in the process.

What do you think? Could you ever give up your car?

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Here are 5 of my favourite posts from this week for you to enjoy over the weekend!

L Bee and the Money Tree ~ Debt: The Great Anchor

Fearless Men ~ What is Manliness?

Reach Financial Independence ~ Defining my dream, little guest house in Guatemala

Canadian Budget Binder ~ I Can Buy It, But Can I Afford It

Frugal Portland ~ Get to Know Another Blogger: Joe, Stacking Benjamins

Also thanks to the following carnivals for including Money Bulldog recently. If you’re not on this list and you should be, then I must not have had a pingback so please drop me an email so that I can add you.

Yakezie Carnival Almost Forgotten Edition – Money Reasons

Finance Carnival for Young Adults 5.19.13 — Faithful With A Few

Carnival Of Retirement – 71st Edition

Carnival of Money Pros – May 19th 2013 – Freeat33

Carnival of Financial Independence, 11th edition – Reach Financial Independence

Have a great weekend everyone!

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13 Responses to Could You Survive Without a Car?

  1. That’s a good question Adam. The public transportation system in our city is absolutely terrible so we would have a challenge at best. However, our commute is about 30 feet so I don’t know how much of a challenge that would be. ;)
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Frugal Friday: Does Apple owe the Government More Money?My Profile

    • Public transport isn’t great here in the UK either John but it’d also be interesting to work out how the cost of using a taxi/cab for those essential journeys would cost in comparison to running a car. I’ve got the same commute as you at the moment, great isn’t it!

  2. Great post, Adam. I think about this subject often. When I was a kid, it was rare that a family, especially with a stay-at-home mom, had two cars. Rick has to have a car to get to work, due to a long commute and no carpooling/public transportation options to get to his work, but I often wonder if I could survive without mine. We’ll keep it, mostly for emergency reasons, as we live in the country and healthcare/ambulances aren’t real close by, but I certainly know I could drive it less.
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..TwoFer: A Great Holiday Recipe and a Serious Word of CautionMy Profile

    • Yeah that’s an interesting point Laurie, about the emergency aspect of having the car available. That was part of the question really, has the world changed so much in recent decades that it has become impossible to do without certain things or are our minds just conditioned to believe that. This is going way deeper than I intended now :-)

  3. Pauline says:

    I had no car in the UK and would rent one for about 40 pounds over the weekend when needed. Since my parking was rented for 80 pounds per month it was like getting two free rentals per month anyway, and no insurance/maintenance costs.
    That said, I had to live next to work because the buses and trains were so insanely expensive. Thank you for the mention!
    Pauline recently posted..Friday recap, a new site and politenessMy Profile

  4. I could survive without a car since we have a reliable trolley and bus system. I really wouldn’t want to have to though. I’m thinking of moving to getting a motorcycle for work commutes to cut gas costs.

    Thanks for including my article!
    John @ Fearless Men recently posted..The Short and Sweet Guide to Target Retirement FundsMy Profile

  5. No, I drive out of town for work so I’d be stuffed without my car and none of my colleagues live where I do. If I worked in town and could bike or take the bus then yes we could easily shop using the bus and bike. The problem is we use our vehicle for all sorts… picking up materials for the house, bringing garbage to the dump, travelling. We rely on it so I’m not thinking we’ll be car free any time soon. I shared on FB to see what my fans think. Mr.CBB
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted..I Can Buy It, But Can I Afford ItMy Profile

  6. That’s a very interesting question! I think we in the US love our cars just a little too much. Unfortunately for me I commute 60 miles to work. Even with a carpool, giving up my car would be out of the question. But if I lived closer to work I might consider it. Having been to the UK and seeing how much you guys pay for gas when compared to us, I can see how this would be a major burden to your finances!
    MMD @ IRA vs 401k Central recently posted..Traditional vs Roth 401k – Which One Is Better?My Profile

  7. As a driving instructor it never ceases to amaze me that so many young people come through my driving school and get their first car on the road, your average cost for having a car is nowhere near the actual cost for new drivers, insurance alone can be £1200 to £2500 even with pass plus and additional motorway and night driving lessons, but they seem to see a car as the ultimate icon of freedom and status.

    Where they find the money I have no idea the cost must be more like £900 a month for new drivers.

    Russell
    Russell Simmons recently posted..Driving Lessons Newport With Pass R Uss Driving SchoolMy Profile

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