Is Parking the Car Worth It?

December 5, 2012 Permalink

I never thought I would say this, and I can’t believe I’m writing about it, considering how passionately I hate the alternatives to driving, but:

There was a brief moment, last week, when I considered parking my car.

giving up my car

To give you some background, in early 2012 my 25 year old car finally died (for good) and I bought a new one. In July, I did a calculation of what my car has been costing me on a monthly basis and came up with a figure dangerously close to $1,000/month, which you can read about here.

Regardless of this outlandish figure, public transportation was never really an option for me, so I sucked it up and kept shelling out for the privilege of driving.

Public transportation is now more of a viable option with some changes to work and my October graduation.

This doesn’t just have monetary benefits; it would be nice to not have to worry about traffic, and allow me to spend my time commuting more productively.

Here’s what I would save:

$160 Gas
$330 Insurance
$44 Parking
$20 Maintenance (average)
______________________
$ 554

I would still have to pay my car payment ($220/month). The transit pass that I would need to buy would be $81.

The monetary benefit for parking my car would then ring out to $473. 

That being said, if I gave up my car I’d also having to give up my babysitting side hustle.

I make around $300/month from that side hustle. Sometimes it ends up being more, and sometimes it ends up being less.

This would therefore make the monetary benefit only $173/month, provided that I can’t find another side hustle that fits my schedule.

The Pros

– No more sitting in traffic!

– The ability to read or write while commuting to work

– $173 extra dollars/month

The Cons

– A huge hit to my freedom

– A potential safety concern (I work in a very sketchy part of the lower mainland)

– Spending far more time commuting (about an hour extra per day)

– Once again – freedom.

Parking The Car is NOT WORTH IT

Unless the monetary benefit would be far, far higher than the figure I came up with, I am adamant that for most people (even those of us with really, really high transportation costs), sacrificing freedom and time and safety is NOT WORTH a couple extra hundred dollars per month.

Sacrificing Time

I am viciously protective of my time. We don’t have much of it, and after the hellish ordeal that I went through with being in school full time while working full time, I’ve realized that time is unbelievably important. You cannot earn time back, but you can always earn more money.

When I feel that people are wasting my time, I’ve been known to have rage blackouts. I even avoid being friends with people who are chronically late because I feel like people who are late do not respect me or my schedule.

So you can imagine how I feel about giving up an hour a day to be sitting on the bus with a bunch of people that are less than savory (you know the type).

While I would be able to read a book or do something productive on the bus while on my commute, I would always, 100% of the time, wish I was doing it somewhere else.

Sacrificing Freedom

This is probably my biggest beef with giving up my car.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled, but since I was 17 and got my first car I’ve gotten used to the freedom of being able to get into my vehicle and go wherever I want to go.

I have never had to ask anybody for the keys, never had to wait for the bus, and I’ve never had to worry about bringing big objects back on the sky train.

If I lived within a 5 minute walk/bus ride to all of my necessary destinations, I may not be so picky with my freedom, but I don’t live down town nor do I ever have even the faintest of desires to do so.

I never want to have to depend on my boyfriend or my family to drive me around. That’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to me. I need my freedom, and it’s worth more than $173/month.

Safety

In the winter particularly, it is dusk when I leave work at 4:30. I work in one of the lower mainland’s sketchiest neighborhoods (aside from the Downtown Eastside). It’s scary enough walking to my car after work in the winter, let alone walking even farther and waiting at the bus stop (I’m not even going to talk about some of the people that show up on the bus). I had to take the bus one time when my old car broke down and it was terrifying.

If I worked in a safer neighborhood, I may not have as huge of a concern but I don’t, so fearing for my life every day isn’t on the top of my priority list.

 

There are a whole slew of other reasons I’m not interested in giving up my car after doing that calculation (Ie: it’s just money, I’m saving enough, etc) but next time somebody asks me why I don’t give up my car to save cash? Well.. I’ve thought about it and suffice to say it’s not going to happen.

Do you have a car? If not, what are your struggles?

30 Comments
  • Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank
    December 5, 2012

    I do the same thing with people who are regularly tardy. Being late a couple of times is fine, but if it becomes a habit and I am always waiting around for that person then I’m sorry but I just don’t have time to be waiting around for you.

    Not sitting in traffic sounds good too. I have a renewed appreciate for that since I have been back at work after my holidays :(

  • John S @ Frugal Rules
    December 5, 2012

    I feel the same way about time, it really drives me nuts…just ask my wife. :) With three kids, not having a car really is not reasonable plus our public transportation in terrible. I think it comes down to if the time savings is worth it and for many it’s not.

  • Donna Anderson
    December 5, 2012

    Nice post. I’ve thought about giving up my car a number of times too and I’m getting ready to move to an area that makes public transportation a real option, now.

    Have you considered that the additional time you could spend writing while you’re riding the bus could end up earning you MORE money? Even if you only spend that time doing research or clearing your head so you’d feel more like writing when you got home, you’re still using that bus time productively and it would benefit your writing.

    Just my .02. :)

    Enjoyed your article, though. It gave me some things to think about. :)

  • Michelle
    December 5, 2012

    I have a car and giving it up would not be realistic. Commuting without a car in my city would be very very hard.

  • sleepydad
    December 5, 2012

    Vancouver traffic is terrible isn’t it? Luckily i go the opposite direction! I live in Vancouver, but work in Burnaby. However, between pick ups and drop offs between childcare, work errands and deliveries, older parents, etc… Definitely need a car. For me, it is worth the money.

  • Brian
    December 5, 2012

    I could give up my car if I purchased a moped, but I live in a city where public transportation is a joke and according to the bus schedule it would take me 1.5 hours to get to work, instead of my 20 minutes.

  • Carolg
    December 5, 2012

    PS. If you keep the car, you have to keep the insurance. So it’s actually cheaper to drive. Even cheaper if you find someone who can commute with you!

  • Emily @ evolvingPF
    December 5, 2012

    What do you mean when you say “park” your car? Do you mean selling it? Keeping it but driving it rarely? Putting it in long-term storage?

    I think cars themselves are more hassle than they’re worth, and in the past I chose (correctly, for me) to have a longer commute on public transport where I could read and work on my laptop than to have to fight traffic twice daily. But I understand your reasons for keeping your car. I think it’s important to understand well what we value. You could attempt your commute without the car a few times just to see if your expectations line up with reality (mine didn’t!).

    • Daisy
      December 5, 2012

      I mean literally park it – in the parking garage, with only parking insurance, and not drive it.

      I’ve had to do that before because my car broke down and it was horrible. But it may have changed.

  • TB at BlueCollarWorkman
    December 5, 2012

    Haha, well, you’ve definitley thought it out. For stuff like this, when it comes out to your money benefit to ditch driving, I always think that you shoudl try it out. Can you try it out for 30 days? You’d actually be getting more time back to your schedule because you get to give up babysitting (which was really only supporting the car habit) and then on the bus you can read or work on other things. Or have a bit of downtime, whcih is hard to come by these days. So yeah, I think maybe you shoudl try it out for 30 days, and if after 30 days it sucks, well, then go back to whatyou’re donig! Right?

    • Daisy
      December 5, 2012

      The only problem with trying it for 30 days is I’d have to quit my babysitting job in order to try it .. meaning then, when/if I hate it, and reinsure my car, I’m out $300+/month

  • Anne @ Unique Gifter
    December 5, 2012

    Our car costs more than $1000 a month, if it makes you feel better. Mostly that’s because of the 3 year financing of 100% of the purchase price, resulting in a massive payment, but giving us the time value of the money. It’s too bad transit doesn’t line up well for you. The safety aspect is a fairly big one. You seem to love living (and now working!) in the ghetto, so paying a bit extra for a safety buffer doesn’t seem too bad. You prob can’t match your rent elsewhere and you won’t be able to change your work location either.

  • Liquid
    December 5, 2012

    I had the same dilemma before. It’s not worth it to park my car either. I would be giving up too much liberty :D I do a hybrid thing where I drive to work regularly and skytrain to downtown occasionally. The thing with the cost of auto insurance is it will get cheaper over time, usually 5% cheaper a year, unless you’re already a roadstar. But if you take the bus then over time transit fares go up like next year they plan to increase 1 zone fares from $2.50 to $2.75.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor
    December 5, 2012

    Don’t you live in one of North America’s carsharing meccas, with both the for-profit Zipcar and non-profit Modo in your area? Carsharing won’t help you with commuting to work, but it can go a long way toward replacing a personally owned car at much lower cost.

  • MissAmanda
    December 5, 2012

    I thought my car insurance was high, but it’s not $330 a month! Mind me asking why you pay so much?

    I have a car, and it costs me about $500/month between the payment, insurance and gas. I drive it very little, but I wouldn’t give it up. I too would have to quit my part time job and it would be a huge blow to both my freedom and time, too. No thanks. (But, ironically, I’m primarily working this second job to pay for the car….)

    • Daisy
      December 5, 2012

      I got in to a bit of a fender bender when I was 18 that i didn’t start paying off on my premiums until last year. woops! So my premium spiked.

      I’m the same way.. my second job is paying for my car!

  • Newlyweds on a Budget
    December 5, 2012

    Eric and I have toyed with the idea of being a single car family, but have never actually jumped on it. I recently started biking to work, so two cars isn’t completely necessary. However, I agree about the freedom thing. When it rains, it’s nice to know I can drive. If I have grocery errands to run, I can just go. It’s nice to have an option.

  • Kathleen, Frugal Portland
    December 5, 2012

    you made the right call. I love reading your thought process!

  • Canadian Budget Binder
    December 5, 2012

    I think what you did with weighing the pros and cons is important because no two people are alike. Our schedules and goals can all differ so although one person may claim parking the car is the best way to save it may not be for another like in your case. Thanks for the breakdown. Mr.CBB

  • Lance @ Money Life and More
    December 5, 2012

    I have a car and no struggles. It is completely worth it to me and there aren’t any reliable public transit options here.

  • K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks!
    December 5, 2012

    Great post! I had considered selling my car given where I live but I decided not to because I value the convenience of getting somewhere in 10 minutes where with public transportation it would take me 45 min! Not having a car payment helps, cost of insurance is low and I don’t drive much since I work from home…so I’ll own the extra carbon footprint and keep my car.

  • Thad
    December 6, 2012

    We have a car, 2 actually, and live more or less in the country. Not an option to not have one.

    But there are some options you might consider if you want to give up a car and go the public transport route. If your location has ZipCar or similar, you can rent a car very cheaply when you absolutely have to have a car.

    Another thing you can do if you want to keep the car is to lease it short term, say during your work day. RelayRides can handle that for you. https://relayrides.com/

  • Vanessa
    December 6, 2012

    WORTH IT! I mean, maybe if you hadn’t just bought a car I would say forget it because your savings would be better but considering you have to pay for it anyways……. Also, your area sounds super sketch so it’s good to have a car

  • Josh @ Live Well Simply
    December 7, 2012

    Sounds like you should keep driving your car. $500+/mo is outrageous, but that’s life in beautiful British Columbia. I budget about $250/mo for my car. That includes insurance, maintenance, and gas for my 17 year old vehicle.

  • CF
    December 7, 2012

    We don’t have a car, as you know, but we live in a more central part of the city. It’s a touch choice! As an aside, I definitely sympathize of the raging on late people. I hate it when people waste my time because they cannot plan theirs.

  • blonde on budget
    December 9, 2012

    We don`t have a car, mainly because it`s sooooooo expensive, and very difficult to find a parking space in this town (Oslo, Norway). luckily public transportation is very good, and relatively cheap.though it would be nice to have a car when you`re out shopping groceries. I do miss that!

  • The Happy Homeowner
    December 10, 2012

    If I lived downtown, I’d definitely park the car permanently. But I also agree with you about time and freedom–huge perks that make it worth it to me to have a car!

  • My Money Design
    December 10, 2012

    I’m so connected to my car and being able to drive around that I would never be able to give it up. But I also have to leave the office a lot for my job, so that probably makes a big difference.

  • Jordann @ My Alternate Life
    December 11, 2012

    I have a car, but I didn’t always. I used to be car free and got along just fine (lived and worked in safe areas). Now that I live in the middle of nowhere, a car is a mandatory investment and I utterly despise the expense related to having one. If I could ditch it, I would in a second!

  • Marissa @ Thirtysixmonths
    December 11, 2012

    I live in the suburbs and public transportation is almost non-existant, so I need a car. Also, I really hope that you move out of the super sketch area soon.

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