A (Simple) Eco-Friendly Way to Save $10,000 Per Year

by Vincent King · 13 comments

Have you ever thought of getting rid of your car? Most Americans can’t fathom surviving without one, yet people do it.

Every day.

Many eco-conscious citizens just finished celebrating “National Bike to Work Week.” They, along with a steadily rising number of people are finding that there are many tremendous benefits to living life without a car.

The current average spend for owning a car in this country is nearly $10,000 per year (if the car is not paid for), with $4,000 of that is the approximate amount needed to fuel SUVs at the time of this writing.

Imagine what you could do with that $10,000.

It isn’t easy living without a car, and it may be impossible for some people. But don’t dismiss it out of hand, since it is a genuine and rarely considered option for many. Don’t refuse to believe in the possibility simply because you’ve never considered it before.

The Benefits

For some people, the benefits of not having a car will outweigh the advantages of having one – if you’re strong enough to handle the challenges. Not having a car is a great way to bond with your kids and spouse, save money, and one of the best things you can do to help preserve the environment.

If car ownership is essential for you because you don’t have access to buses or live too far from the places you need to go most, co-ownership is a great way to cut that $10,000 expense down to $5,000.

Co-ownership

With a trusted neighbor or close-by friend, you could draft an agreement to buy and share a vehicle. Allocating who will use the car, and when, along with what you will do in emergencies, are all a MUST – upfront – before finalizing any agreements.

Your agreement (even if you’re the best of friends) must be legal and taken seriously. Otherwise, co-ownership could ruin your friendship. Know the person well before deciding to own a car together.

Keep Things Close To Home

Get used to going to stores that are close enough to walk with your family. It isn’t necessary to fly across town to your favorite stores, if there are similar stores down the street from where you live. If you’re lucky enough to live close to your children’s school, get in the habit of walking together, rather than driving.

And you don’t have to cut your kids off from after school activities. Let them get together with other kids in the neighborhood to perform their own extracurricular activities and develop their life skills together. Your children don’t need to suffer from isolation if school or city events are too far to make it on foot.

Relocate

This may seem drastic, but if you’re serious about saving $10,000 a year and making a better life for your family, it’s worth the hassle. If moving is an option, move closer to school and work. Look for a walkable neighborhood because there are many advantages, and if there’s a halfway point between the two, great! If not, don’t forget the bus or public transportation system in your town.

Go Public

Even if you end up taking public transportation instead relying solely on walking, you’ll save more than half of that $10,000. The bus and other public transportation will cost you only a fraction of owning a car. If you’re riding a lot, a permanent bus pass will further reduce the cost.

Get a Bike

Investing in a family of bikes will still cost you less than a thousand dollars and will be faster than padding the trails. And like walking, it’s super exercise, but with the breeze in your face on warm summer afternoons when you are cycling to your favorite places. Not to mention, your children will love getting out and going on bike rides together.

Living a life without a car isn’t easy, but it is much easier trying to save $10,000 a year in many other ways.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Danny Handelman says:

    Society will continue to be car-dependent as long as government intervention in land use, through height and minimum setback restrictions, minimum automobile parking requirements (rather than maximum automobile parking of 0), segregation of residential and commercial use of land, impact fees being too high for infill and too low for low density and basing property taxes on the value of land alone rather than land and building, make it more profitable for builders to build outward rather than upward, resulting in the average journey distance which makes walking unfeasible.

  • Donna says:

    I live in NYC and have no need for a car. My philosophy is “No car, no car worries.” Despite all that, I had a friend who called me useless to her because I didn’t drive. Needless to say, we’re no longer friends.

  • Stephanie says:

    I’m moving to Melbourne soon where they have a decent public transportation system. With the exception of special events (like weddings) in out of the way venues and occasional trips to further places, I think we can get by without a car. For when we have special events we can get a taxi or occasional trips we can get a rental car. We could consider getting a rental car for special events and then combine it with errands like wholesale trips like Costco, Sam’s Club, that sorta thing.

  • Marie says:

    Oh my gosh….this is really an impossibility for so many. And thank goodness lol, as it means there’s still enough space for all us country bumpkins to live in the country! Four wheel drives are the only reliable forms of transportation for many of us – I’d never make it up my driveway in the winter without.
    Yes moving to a city would solve the vehicle issue but not the savings issue as the high cost of living in an urban setting far would far exceed the savings on not having a vehicle.

  • Danielle says:

    I’ve often thought about giving up my car, which does happen to be an SUV. Luckily, it’s paid for, and both my husband and myself are in our mid-to-late 30’s and have clean driving records, so the insurance isn’t too bad. Fuel is though.

    I’ve worked from home for the past 7 years, and until a year and a half ago, he had to travel. We both worked briefly as taxi cab drivers in the past 6 months, and we instituted a cab ride co-op to help people save money on cabs. It worked well, but now hubby has found a job he could walk to, it’s only 3 miles, and we are definitely considering bikes.

  • Jules says:

    Unless you’re living in a major metropolitan area with good public transit (or Europe, in general), going carless really isn’t possible for most people. I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia–it was a 10-minute drive to anywhere, and the roads were so narrow biking was dangerous…and I say that, having ridden up and down Broad Street during rush hour.

    That being said, I must agree that not having a car is probably the only reason why we’re above water at the moment. Although ironically enough, we are now seriously considering getting a car, because it would be much easier for DH’s commute.

  • We recently gave up our second car. We were surprised to calculate that the second car cost us only $800-900 per year, given our gas and insurance needs with the first.

    • Paula says:

      Hi Emily

      Can you explain how your second car only cost you $800-$900 for the year. We have a 2009 honda accord and I just calculated our car bill for the year so far as follows:

      Gas approx $1,200
      Maintenance approx $150
      Car Note approx $2000
      Car Insurance approx $600

      Our car is costing us $4000 thus far.

  • I’m carless in a major metropolitan area, and one of the chief concerns when finding housing or employment is its proximity to a bus line or subway. (Chief concerns for car owners are gas prices and PARKING — both availability and cost.) My commute is about an hour each way — and it could be less if I were willing to ride a bike on city streets — but that’s normal for lots of people around here. I walk to the grocery store, farmers’ market, and library, and I take a bus or train to events after work. There are certainly times when having a car would be convenient, but I’ve made it work for about ten years now (including living in a smaller town that lacked public transit).

  • Liquid says:

    Pretty convincing reasons to ditch the vehicle. I wish I could go carless too but I live in the same city as Ms. Daisy so it’s hard to do. But luckily my car isn’t that expensive to run. Last year I spent less than $2,000 on it, including gas, maintenance, and insurance.

  • If I still lived right outside of DC this might be possible but it would add hours onto my days trying to catch the various forms of public transportation. In the end I think the money is worth it to me in just the time savings. Now where I live has almost zero public transportation and I don’t live in a walk friendly area. I also live 15 miles from work, so unless I become an awesome biker selling my car just isn’t going to happen.

  • Bill says:

    That’s a nice thought, but just not practical for many of us in the US. It’s not just a question of transportation for me, but of carrying the stuff that I need to get back home. Every three weeks, I make my pilgrimage to the city to get cat food, dog food, people food and other stuff. I try to get as much out of my travel as I can, but we don’t have neighborhood stores anymore and shipping costs are prohibitive. I can’t bike to work, because I need to travel at work and the distances are too great.

  • Going carless is definitely not an option for me – with the city I live in, it would just never work. Too bad, because I would certainly save a lot of money!

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