The Actual Cost of Car Ownership pt. 2: Alternatives

In a previous post, we explored the true cost of car ownership, including things you typically forget to factor in, like depreciation, maintenance, and car insurance. If your goal is to save money this year, though, you’ll need some practical ways to do it. After all, saving money is one of the most commonly failed resolutions each year.

So if you’re serious about getting rid of one of the most costly expenses — your car — read on for some alternatives. Bonus: these options aren’t just cheaper; some are also healthier for you and those around you!

Cycling

Cost: Very easy to stay under $1,000 for a nice bike — in some cases far under!

Bike prices can vary widely, and the best bike for you will depend on where you live, where you need to go, and how often you’ll be using it. But even in less than perfect weather, a bike can keep you happy, healthy, and on-budget.

Bikes require far less maintenance than cars, zero spending in the way of gas or insurance, are a cheaper one-off cost, and you can usually buy them used if you want to save money. Plus, it’s much faster than walking, and unlike some other options, you can also buy a bike that’ll allow your kids to ride along.

Electric bike

Cost: Usually starts around $1,000.

If you like the idea of biking but don’t have a lot of time, or if you have kids to cart around, an electric bike can be a good middleman between driving and biking. 

In general, e-bikes are more expensive and cost more to maintain than regular bikes—in addition to the normal bike accessories, you also need to charge the battery, replace it occasionally, take the bike in for tune-ups, and more. However, many can help you go faster for less effort, which is ideal if you need to travel more than a few miles, and some are made for family travel!

Electric scooter

Cost: To buy, around $300; to rent, something like $1 per trip plus a few cents per minute.

Electric scooters are all the rage nowadays, especially if you live in a big city — but even if you don’t, they’re incredibly affordable to own, especially when compared to a car. After all, they’re fun to ride, much faster than walking, and don’t require any effort or sweat.

Ride-sharing and car-sharing

Cost: Starts at around $3 per trip plus miles and time for ride-sharing, or $70 a year plus miles and time for car-sharing

If you’re serious about ditching car ownership, there are plenty of options for when you need a ride. Rely on public transit, or your arsenal of reasonably priced options that we’ve covered above, and use ride-sharing or car-sharing services for longer trips or special occasions. You’ll very likely come out ahead; the Environmental Protection Agency estimates car sharing saves consumers anywhere between $154 and $430+ each month!

Walking

Cost: Free!

A no-brainer part of your arsenal that may help you live longer

Bottom line

Many people reflexively dismiss the idea of reducing or replacing their driving, but if you add up the costs, alternatives can make a compelling case. Think about this: a $500 bike, a $300 scooter, and $1,000 of ride sharing over the course of a year all add up to less than all but the very cheapest used cars. You’ll still come ahead even if splurging on a higher end e-bike. And after that, none of those pesky fuel costs, insurance bills, and very little maintenance. (This is, of course, not to mention the peace of mind, muscly quads, and impressed looks from acquaintances.) 

If your goal is to save money this year, consider getting rid of one of your most significant expenses — your car — and becoming healthier and greener while you’re at it.

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Jenna Lee is a content marketer, Oxford comma enthusiast, and cat lover living in the Bay Area.