We went from a one-car to zero-car family for both financial and lifestyle reasons. We had been casually following the advice blog of Mr. Money Moustache and liked how his philosophy aligns nicely with how we want to live our lives: consciously and deliberately.
In making this big decision, to get rid of our one and only car, I was struck by how many of my big life choices are made on autopilot. It’s like we work toward end goals mindlessly–based only on how people have always done things.
I am guilty of thoughtlessly making decisions about how we spend our money or our time that don’t necessarily align with my personal values. Owning a car, I recently discovered, is one of those choices.
Owning the nicest car you can afford is part of American culture. It’s expected. It’s a rite of passage: I did it three times without even thinking twice about it. And as much as I enjoy driving a zippy five-speed, I hate what I am doing to the planet and who my gas money supports.
We calculated the cost of driving our new car for the next four years of the loan at $25K. This total included upcoming principle and interest payments (we were 10 payments in on a 60 month loan with a current balance of $14.5K at 2.9% ), gas (we already barely drive it—using less than two tanks per month), insurance ($770 year), and a conservative maintenance estimate of $1000 year (it isa VW). Twenty-five grand is pretty much what I owe on my remaining student loans (two graduate degrees from expensive schools in NYC. I’ve already paid off more than $75K).
This may sound anti-American, but I am downright giddy at the thought of using that money to pay off my loans rather than own a car.
We told my mother-in law and she argued that we were lucky to live in a city with great public transportation. Clearly, she has never visited Cold Spring. She seems to think we still live in Brooklyn where not having a car would be a lot easier.