I feel like we’ve posted a lot about transportation the last few weeks but that’s where my mind has been. There were some great comments in response to my post last week about visiting a friend who lives car-free in D.C. and it got me thinking about alternative transportation. It also got me thinking about how much money I spend on my car.
I read a book about going car-free awhile back that claimed people could save $10,000+ per year by going car-free and my immediate thought was “Sure, if you have a new car and are making payments.” Of course, in the back of my mind was a little voice saying “Geez, I don’t want to know how much I spend on my car!” So I put off the calculations for awhile but I finally sat down this week and cranked through it. The numbers are a little rough because I didn’t track down all my expenses for the last two years. I also sincerely hope that I won’t spend as much money on car repairs as I did last year ($1,800) even though I am probably just deluding myself.
I paid cash for my car but lets spread that cost over 5 years and assume that I’ll get about $1,000 for it when I finally give up and sell it. I spent about $4,000 on the car in 2005 which included the grease conversion and a new set of tires. So that would be $3,000 over 5 years or $600/year.
|car purchase =||$600/year|
|plates =||$80/year ($35 for “environmental” plates)|
|oil changes =||$200/year|
So the grand total is $2,030 per year in base costs. Since I bought the car 3.5 years ago, I have driven 46,646 miles which is about 13,327 miles per year. That’s probably a little high considering I drove the car to Oregon and back in 2005 so lets say with my new lifestyle I drive more like 10,000 miles per year. (Yes, I like nice round numbers).
More rounding gives us $2,000 divided by 10,000 miles or 20 cents per mile in base costs. Ouch!
I figure a tank of diesel costs me about $50 and takes me about 500 miles, which gives me a nice round figure of 10 cents/mile.
So driving my car on (free) veggie oil costs about 20 cents per mile while driving my car on diesel costs about 30 cents per mile. On an annual basis, if I drive 80% of the time on diesel, I’m spending a total amount of roughly $3,600 on transportation, or $300/month. $2,800 or $233/month (sorry, had a bad math moment there). This makes the bus ($1.25/trip) and carshare programs ($15/hour) seem much more affordable. If I were to sell my car and set aside $150/month for transportation costs, I could use that money for five hours of carshare time ($15×5= $75) plus 28 bus trips ($1.25×28 = $35) and still have $40 left to buy fancy accessories for my bicycle or save up for a plane ticket.
Alas, with my current job situation I need access to a car pretty continuously during field trip season so I probably can’t go totally car-free just yet. We also don’t have a carshare program here so that’s not an option. I’m thinking perhaps the solution is for Will and I to share one car but the next question is – which one? Tune in next week for another stimulating session of applied mathematics!
Your weekend homework: How much does YOUR car cost?