Blog » Driving

Save Money on Your Commute with these Transportation Alternatives

For many of us, a commute is a reality of life, whether it’s to work or the local shops for our everyday necessities. Most of us don’t have the good fortune to live close to where we work and need to shop. If you can’t travel by car, here is a guide of alternative transportation methods, so you can get where you need to go.


Should I start riding a bike?

Bicycles are an eco-conscious, healthy, and affordable option for transportation. Once you buy the bike, you don’t need to worry about expensive fuel, maintenance, or car insurance. After all, you power the bike yourself.

Cities are increasingly becoming more bike-friendly, adding new bike lanes and cracking down on dangerous driver behavior threatening cyclists. Fortunately, these steps are making the streets safer for those of us who don’t ride a bike, too.

A common choice for cyclists is an electric bicycle. You can generally fold the bikes in half for easy storage in seconds and ride them as traditional bikes. For added convenience, some electric bikes charge your smartphone and come with companion apps to track your distance or even turn on built-in LED lights to ride in style.

If you’re nervous about purchasing a bicycle because of cost, especially when some bicycles can now cost thousands of dollars, look into whether your city has a network of public bikes you can rent. Cities big and small, including New York, Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, have bicycle stands with bikes available for rent, and there are now apps that have “dockless” bikes. These bike-sharing apps can help you find a bicycle that’s closest to you and can be more convenient. Often, there are also monthly or annual pass options suited for more regular riders, which could cut down your commute cost as well. And with docking stations located throughout bustling business areas of downtown, they offer a convenient alternative to hunting down an open parking space.

  • Pros of commuting on a bicycle: 
    • Many cities are limiting through traffic on some main streets and expanding their network of bike lanes to make cycling safer
    • Healthy for you and the environment
    • Can be more affordable: you can purchase your own bicycle cheaply or rent a shared bike to keep costs low
  • Cons of commuting on a bicycle:
    • Regular car traffic can be dangerous, especially in congested areas
    • Your office or home may not have space for you to store your bike securely
    • Some bicycles, including electric bikes, may be expensive to purchase or maintain over time



Should I buy a moped to commute?

Mopeds often bring to mind driving along some idyllic European coastline, but they can be a great way to get around here in the U.S., too. Like bicycles, mopeds can keep commute costs low, as they’re cheaper to purchase and maintain than cars.

If you’ve never driven a moped, companies now make it easy to start riding. In some cities, app-based moped rentals are becoming commonplace and usually cost just a few dollars. And there’s no need to own a helmet for the occasional ride — these companies often provide helmets in the cargo trunk, ready for riders!

  • Pros of commuting on a moped: 
    • Can be more affordable: typically cost a few dollars to unlock and ride
    • Ready-to-ride with helmets often readily available
    • Faster than biking and less exerting on your body
  • Cons of commuting on a moped: 
    • Congested streets can be dangerous or scary, especially for new moped drivers
    • Limited storage space for your bag, briefcase, or shopping bags



Is public transportation safe for commutes?

Public transportation, whether by bus, rail, or subway, can be a convenient way to get to work and around town. In many major cities and suburbs, it is the most common method of transportation. Generally, costing just a few dollars, it is also the most cost-effective. Plus, when taken instead of driving a car, public transport can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and reduce the effects of climate change on the environment.

  • Pros of commuting on public transportation: 
    • Generally the most cost effective: fares can range from a few cents to a few dollars 
    • You can be more productive while commuting: multi-tasking gives you the opportunity to read your emails or a book
    • Can be less stressful: you don’t need to worry about traffic because someone else is driving
  • Cons of commuting on public transportation: 
    • Can be very crowded and uncomfortable during peak morning and early evening commute times
    • Wait times can be long because of COVID-19, as some agencies have cut frequencies of service
    • Limited personal space or social distancing when crowded
    • Cleanliness may be an issue in heavily frequented routes, stations, or stops
      

Should I continue commuting by driving?

While carpooling may be less common because of health concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, many car owners are finding more value in their vehicles now more than ever. Driving with your family or people who you live with can help alleviate some cleanliness and hygiene concerns.

  • Pros of commuting by driving:
    • Convenience of getting on the road straight from your home
    • If you’re able to commute with a partner, friend or coworker, you can take advantage of the carpool lane for a potentially quicker ride
    • Could allow you to better maintain social distancing and personal space
  • Cons of commuting by driving:
    • Heavy traffic or accidents on the road can slow you down and stress you out
    • Driving is a significant contributor to climate change
    • Gas prices and car maintenance can be costly
    • Car insurance can be expensive and is another added cost to owning a car

If you find yourself driving your car less during the week or with a changed routine, Metromile’s pay-per-mile car insurance could be a great way to save money. When you drive less, you can save more because your bill is based on the miles you drive.

Demi Greco is a communications specialist, plant mom, and under-baked cookie connoisseur from San Francisco.

Coronavirus Auto Insurance: How to Get a Refund or Save

You may have heard about car insurance discounts, rebates, or refunds due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some car insurance companies are providing savings because fewer people are driving because of stay-at-home or social distancing guidelines.

As many of us cancel our vacations, take fewer trips around town, or work from home, we put together a guide to the refunds and other savings available for car insurance.

How to save on car insurance during coronavirus with discounts and refunds

In addition to factors like what kind of car you drive or your driving and insurance history, many insurance companies consider how much you drive when they set your rate. For example, if you drive 10,000 or fewer miles a year (this is most Americans!), you could save on car insurance.

Some car insurance companies have also started to provide partial premium refunds and other savings in response to how many drivers have reduced or stopped their driving. Some notable savings and discounts include:

Can I get a discount because I’m not driving to work anymore?

You could save some money if you’re no longer commuting back and forth to work. Similarly, your savings could add up if you’re also taking fewer trips to restaurants, shops, or vacations.

Metromile provides pay per mile car insurance, so one of the biggest factors behind how much you pay for car insurance is how much you drive. If you drive less, you can pay a lower rate to keep your car covered. 

During some states’ shelter-in-place and social distancing guidelines, Metromile customers saved approximately 30% on average on car insurance, beginning in April. They didn’t need to call to ask for a discount or let their insurance company know they started working from home or were driving less—their bills were lowered automatically when they drove less and stayed home because they pay per mile.

Why canceling your auto insurance is a bad idea

Each state has minimum requirements for car insurance coverage, so you shouldn’t cancel your policy. Often, you’re required to have car insurance, even if you’re not driving your car. For example, comprehensive coverage will be useful if something falls on your car while it’s parked. Also, if you finance your car, your lender or leasing company may have also required you to keep a certain amount of coverage.

How to lower your auto insurance rate during the coronavirus pandemic

Metromile and some other insurance companies let you personalize your policy, including your coverage limits and totals. You might have optional car insurance coverage unique to your state and situation that you could temporarily reduce to help you lower your rate. If you do make any changes, remember to review your policy again later, especially if you start driving again or your habits change. 

Options if you can’t pay your car insurance bill during the coronavirus pandemic

Many insurance companies are providing assistance with your coverage and policy. If you need some extra support, think about contacting your insurance company to learn what may be available.

Metromile is making payment relief options available, so you won’t lose your coverage if you can’t pay now. Metromile customers can also make partial payments if they can’t pay their complete balance for no fees, including late fees.

Has car insurance changed because of the coronavirus pandemic?

Your car insurance should be the same unless your car insurance company lets you know your policy has changed. Drivers should still be able to file a car insurance claim during the coronavirus pandemic. Insurance companies have not stopped processing claims, and in many cases, you can file a claim online. Metromile customers can file a claim 24/7 from the Metromile app or their online dashboard on the Metromile website.

Your insurance company may ask you to share photos or videos of your damage to help understand your damage. It’s a good idea to check your policy or contact your company, so you can follow their latest requirements.

Don’t worry about getting your car repaired. Many auto repair shops are open, even during shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, because they are generally considered essential businesses.

Bottom line

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused stress and uncertainty, but car insurance doesn’t have to be one of them. Car insurance companies are providing extra support for your policy, including savings as you drive less, payment relief options, and help to keep your car covered.

The Top 6 Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance Bill

Keeping these tips in mind can help you stay on top of your auto insurance costs

It can be hard right now to cover current expenses. Many of us are looking for new ways to reduce our spending and find easy ways to save money. One place you shouldn’t cut is car insurance, as you’ll need it if you ever get into an accident. Fortunately, car insurance doesn’t have to be expensive.

Consider these six steps to help lower your car insurance bill.

1. Understand your current coverage.

It’s important to understand your current policy. You will want to know where you currently stand, so you can evaluate whether the coverage and limits you originally purchased are still right for you. You might have purchased your policy when your lifestyle was different. For example, if you are now driving an older car, you might not need as much coverage than when you had a sports car. Once you understand your current coverage, you can make an apples-to-apples comparison with other available policies to make a more informed financial decision.

2. Check rates often.

Don’t forget to shop around for car insurance. Car insurance prices can change over time, so this is a situation where set it and forget it might not work well for your wallet. The fact is car insurance premiums can vary among insurance companies, even for the same levels of coverage.

A good way to make sure you have a good rate is to consider pay-per-mile car insurance like Metromile. Because you only pay for the miles you drive, you could pay less for car insurance when you drive less. It’s like an automatic discount because your coverage adapts to your lifestyle.

3. Ask for discounts.

It often goes unnoticed but insurance companies have different discounts available. When you signed up, you might not have known you were eligible for some discounts, or your situation may have changed since you first purchased your policy, which now qualifies you to save.

A common car insurance discount is a multi-vehicle discount if you insure more than one car on the same policy. There are also rate reductions available based on the kind of job you have, whether you are married, or rewards for being a safe driver. These discounts can add up, so it can be worthwhile to call your insurer to check for any discounts for which you might be eligible.

4. Increase the deductible.

If you have a good driving record and very rarely get into accidents, you could increase your deductible to save money on your car insurance. You generally pay more for car insurance if you have a lower deductible.

Keep in mind that your deductible is how much you need to pay before your insurance kicks in. For example, if your car needs $1,500 in repairs and your policy has a $500 deductible, you’ll be responsible for paying $500 before your insurance covers the remaining $1,000. If you increase your deductible, you might want to consider saving money to make sure your emergency fund could cover the difference to avoid a bad surprise later.

5. Consider temporarily changing your coverage.

Your car insurance policy should work for you. Fortunately, Metromile and some other insurance companies let you personalize your policies, including your coverage limits and totals. You can ask your insurer about any optional coverage unique to your state that you could temporarily reduce to help you save, for example.

Each state has minimum requirements, so don’t get too overboard with any reductions. You’ll need to keep the minimum coverage and limits required by your state so that you don’t have a lapse in coverage. Similarly, if you finance your car, review your financing information, as your lienholder or lease company could have coverage requirements or require you to let them know if you make any changes to your insurance policy.

If you do make any changes, make sure you remember to review your policy again later. You don’t want to get caught without the coverage you might need when you return to your usual driving habits.

6. Drive an older car.

The car you drive affects how much you pay for car insurance. Generally, if you have an older car, you’ll pay less than if you had a newer or luxury car. Older cars tend to be cheaper to insure because their car parts are more widely available, and the value of cars tends to decrease over time.

If you have an older car, you could also drop optional coverage that you might not need. For example, if your car is worth less than your deductible, you could end up spending more money than the repair. In this case, it could be more economical to stick to your state’s minimum requirements.

Bottom line

Car insurance is often one of the biggest expenses, but it’s not something you should ever go without if you have a car. However, you don’t have to pay too much to get the coverage and experience that you deserve. 

Catalytic Converter Theft Is Up 25%

At Metromile, we care about your safety and protecting you from undue costs, including theft. Unfortunately, catalytic converter theft is on the rise, especially in the state of California.

The Toyota Prius and other hybrid cars are the most common targets, but thieves also steal catalytic converters from SUVs and trucks. 

Recently, catalytic converter claims at Metromile have increased by around 25%, on average costing thousands of dollars to replace. Rest assured, if your car insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, it could help cover costs up to your coverage limits, including replacing your catalytic converter and any necessary repairs from any damage caused by the thief.

How can I protect my vehicle from catalytic converter theft?

Whenever possible, park in well-lit areas that are near cameras or higher pedestrian traffic. If you have a personal garage, store your car in the garage with the door closed and locked. Attaching a security device, such as a cat-shield, may also reduce the likelihood your car is targeted.

What is a catalytic converter?

The catalytic converter reduces the toxic gases and pollutants that exit the tailpipe. It is located between the engine and the exhaust system, usually underneath your car. 

The precious metals inside the converter, such as palladium and platinum, make it a popular choice for thieves. It can be cut off from your car in mere minutes.

How does a catalytic converter work?

When pollutants in fuel pass over the palladium and platinum inside the catalytic converter, they trigger a chemical reaction that burns or oxidizes the harmful components. Then, the newly cleaned emissions pass through and out of the tailpipe.

The very metals that are so desired by these thieves are used specifically for this car part because they are exactly what make the converter work, chemically. Think of it as a chemistry experiment taking place in a fancy metal chamber underneath your car! 

In the event of a malfunction, the exhaust flow is affected, which can disrupt your car’s performance, hinder fuel economy and can even cause difficulties with starting your car. Sometimes, it is not the actual converter that is malfunctioning, but a domino effect of other issues occurring in another part of the engine’s network of systems and parts — like a piston ring that’s stuck or bad spark plugs. Thankfully, since OBD-II ports have a sensor to monitor, among other things, the efficiency of the converter, any issue affecting your catalytic converter will trigger your check engine light. And, as a Metromile pay per mile customer, your Pulse device reads that sensor and can let you know should an issue arise. Though malfunctions do occur, the good news is most catalytic converters function properly and last for the life of the vehicle. 

What Is A Motor Vehicle Report?

If you’re ready to switch up your car insurance, you may need a motor vehicle report. Even if your new insurance provider doesn’t request one, it may be helpful for you to review before you shop. Here’s everything you might need to know about your MVR:

What is a motor vehicle report?

A motor vehicle report or MVR is also known as your driving record. Consider the MVR your driving report card which documents everything from traffic tickets, accident reports, DUI convictions, driver’s license points, vehicle-related crimes, and more. Your MVR also includes driver’s license details, such as the driver’s license class, restrictions, endorsements, and personal information like your age, height, or weight.

Why does my car insurance company need a copy of my MVR?

Your car insurance rates are largely based on how risky you might be as a driver on the road. If your MVR indicates that you’re prone to accidents or speeding violations, an insurance company may need to factor those things into the premium you pay. If you have had major violations like DUIs, it can severely impact the rate insurance companies are likely to offer you, compared to a clean record with no history of violations.

Depending on which state you live in, certain items may be removed from your MVR after some time. For example, some violations like a DUI stick around longer, while other violations like a speeding ticket may be expunged sooner. Whether or not violations are stricken from your record after a certain amount of time, most car insurance companies will only take a close look at the most recent years detailed on your MVR. 

How do I get a copy of my MVR?

You can call or visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to request a copy of your MVR, but if you’re applying for car insurance, that carrier will contact the DMV themselves to get a copy. Ordering a copy of your MVR can be useful, as knowing all the details of your history can help you estimate how much money you’ll likely be paying for insurance premiums. 

The downside of ordering a copy is that it’ll likely cost you anywhere from $5 to $25, depending on which state you live in. A little tip: request an uncertified version, as it often costs less than an “official” version. You might not be able to use it for a job interview or a court appearance, but it will have all the information you need to understand your history and approximate your car insurance rate.

——

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.

How I Drive: I Chose Pay Per Mile Because I Work From Home

Low-mileage driver & Illinois resident RJ

RJ Weiss works from home full-time in Geneva, Illinois, the western suburb of Chicago, where he lives with his wife and three children. A certified financial planner, he runs The Ways to Wealth. RJ describes it as an online community full of resources that helps people learn how to make money, budget, and invest their money wisely.

The work-from-home financial whiz became a Metromile customer in March 2018, after finding people who work from home weren’t getting a good deal from other insurance companies.

How’d you hear about Metromile?

I found Metromile while comparing options for low-mileage drivers. You could say insurance and financial planning run in my blood. I became a certified financial planner in my 20s, and my family had an insurance agency that dated back four generations. My father was the president of the agency, so we talked about insurance a lot. We still do, even though he’s sold the agency.

Why did you choose Metromile?

I thought my previous insurer wasn’t giving us enough credit for not driving much. We live about 40 miles outside of Chicago, and other than a big road trip now and then, we tend to drive close to home. With my understanding of coverage options, limits and Illinois requirements, Metromile seemed like a great fit for my family. 

We could have bundled our auto insurance with our home insurance, but my home insurer offered a discount that was only about 5% to 10% — that doesn’t come close to what I’m saving with Metromile. Unbundling was definitely a better option for us.

How has your bill been affected by shelter-in-place orders? How much is an average bill now compared to this time last year? 

I was already saving a lot, and now I’m saving even more. Last year, our monthly Metromile bill for both of our cars was usually about $60 or $70 total per month. Since shelter-in-place, it’s dropped to about $45 or $50 per month.

Have you taken advantage of Metromile’s free miles feature? In Illinois, we charge up to 250 miles driven in one day, and any additional miles after that on the same day are free. 

Yes! We took a family road trip to Tennessee last year, and that feature really came in handy. It’s sure nice to have the cap. It wound up being less than $10.

Have you used the Metromile app? 

Yes, I love the app. It’s fun to track my driving and costs. I don’t mind having the Pulse device plugged into our cars because it provides a more accurate view of our driving, keeps our rates low, and benefits me as a consumer.

What’s your advice for people who might be newly working from home or looking for ways to save money?

You have to find insurance companies that are willing to give you credit for what you already do. I found Metromile after I moved to work from home full-time, and it paid off to take advantage of the cost-savings. I know from personal experience that insurance companies have so much data about their customers that the cost can really skyrocket if they don’t want you. 

Additionally, more people are low-mileage drivers than you might think. It’s becoming more common to keep the car parked and walk to the store. It helps that I come from insurance, and I knew this trend; it made me an early mover to pay per mile.

How to Handle an Accident in a Rental Car

So, you’re finally on vacation. Yay! After stepping off the plane, where do you go first? The rental car agency, of course. At the counter, you confidently decline the rental insurance because you “don’t need it.” Three days later, you get into an accident…in said rental car. If you’re internally screaming at yourself for declining the rental insurance, you’re not alone. Getting into an accident on vacation in a rental car is the perfect storm of bad luck. 

My husband and I were on a romantic anniversary trip in our favorite place on earth: Maui. Unfortunately, we learned that it’s possible to be rude even in paradise; someone side swiped our rental in the parking lot of a restaurant before driving away.

Stressful, right?

Metromile customer or not, here’s what you should do if you get into an accident in a rental car:

Step 1: Keep your cool. Make sure your car is fully stopped before exiting the vehicle.

Step 2: Check-in with your passengers and the parties in the other car. If anyone needs medical attention, dial 911 immediately. Then, move your car out of the flow of traffic (as best you can). 

Step 3: Report the accident to the police. This step is critical, especially in the case of a hit-and-run.

Step 4: While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, do not admit guilt or apologize (an apology can be considered an admission of guilt in some circumstances).

Step 5: Document the scene with photos and videos. Snap pictures of both cars, the driver, signs, lights, lane markings, skid marks, road construction, etc.

Step 6: Obtain a police report. Having a police report can help expedite an insurance payout.

Step 7: Contact the rental car company and ask how you should proceed. If you purchased rental insurance, they will explain the next steps.

Step 8: File a claim with your personal insurance company.

If you’re a Metromile customer, you’re in especially good hands — our agents are here to help and our claims team is lightning fast. But if not, knowing the steps to follow in the event of an accident in a rental car is beneficial. Don’t let it ruin your vacation!

– – –

Julianne Sawyer is a freelance writer, app producer, and real-life Metromile customer living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Winter Storm Driving Tips

There’s nothing quite like staying warm and cozy indoors on a warm winter day…and nothing quite like navigating the messy roads and chaotic weather conditions when you just can’t justify a sick day. There are plenty of things to love about winter, but sloshing through storms isn’t one of them. Before you get behind the wheel this season, take heed of these must-know winter storm driving tips:

Never leave the house unprepared. Try to keep at least half a tank of gas and stock your vehicle with cold-weather essentials like extra food, warm clothing, blankets, a flashlight, and any other items you think you might need in the event that you’re stranded. Better to be safe than sorry. 

Slow down. Even if you’re normally tempted to zoom in the fast lane, consider winter storms the time to take your speed down several notches. The season brings ice and snow to the roads, and even if you can’t see any obvious obstacles, slippery patches can make your car skid.

Increase your following distance. Try to stay at least 5-6 seconds behind the car in front of you. That extra little buffer will give you space to brake in case they make a sudden stop.

Keep the exhaust pipe clean. One part of your vehicle that may often be overlooked is the exhaust pipe. But exhaust pipe blockages caused by mud, snow, and ice can be serious — even fatal — as carbon monoxide can build up and leak into the passenger compartment. Be sure to keep an eye on it throughout the season. 

Keep going if you can. Stopping and starting your car during a winter storm can actually be risky since it requires extra inertia to get going again after a full stop. Slow down gradually, speed up gradually, and plan ahead to avoid full stops if you can.

Stay as visible as possible. Before you hit the road, consider tying a bright cloth scrap to your antenna and using your dome light while driving at night. Anything you can do to keep your vehicle easy to see and find in case of emergency may help you escape a scary situation.

If you can, just don’t drive. The very best way to avoid winter storm issues on the road? Avoid the road completely. While you may not be able to get out of work or other necessary obligations, consider canceling any unessential plans and rescheduling for better weather days.Another benefit to driving less? You may be able to save major money with pay-per-mile insurance.

– – –

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.

Should You Drive a Hybrid or Electric Car?

Should an electric car be your new ride?

As my ancient and outdated car reaches the end of her lifespan and I’ve been on the hunt for newer, more tech-savvy, eco-friendly modes of transportation, I’ve been a little overwhelmed by the array of options. Electric cars are better for the environment, but they’re not exactly cheap. Hybrid cars offer dual engine support, but it costs a lot of cash to replace their batteries. There’s a lot to consider when you’re considering the jump from a standard vehicle to a hybrid or electric one; here are the main pros and cons to ponder.

The Pros

They’re generally more environmentally friendly. While the environmental-friendliness of a hybrid vehicle depends on a few factors (how you drive it and how you charge it), electric cars require zero fuel, making them the superior choice when it comes to preserving the environment. Of course, electric cars produce zero greenhouse gas exhaust.

You may qualify for some tax breaks. Electric car owners can benefit from a tax credit just for driving an eco-friendly vehicle (the caveat is, you have to be the original owner of the car to cash in on that break). Depending on the make and model of your car, you may be eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500, but it’s best to work with a tax specialist to decipher the details for your specific situation. Hybrid owners may be eligible for tax credits too, depending on your state

You may get better mileage or performance in certain settings. Driving in the city more than on the freeway? Unlike standard vehicles, which tend to get better mileage on the highway versus urban environments, hybrid cars do better on city streets. And while electric cars have a shorter driving range than standard vehicles, their motors are smooth and quiet, and actually provide stronger acceleration and require less maintenance.

The Cons

You’ll probably have to pay more upfront. Hybrids tend to cost more than standard cars, and electric cars can cost even more. But that looks like it’s starting to shift a bit: while the median retail price for all vehicles in the U.S. is $36,600, some new hybrids are available in the $25,000 to $30,000 range.

You’ll have to know where to charge them. The amount and availability of charging stations for electric and hybrid vehicles is definitely on the rise, but it still takes more time and planning to charge than it does to pop into a standard gas station. Standard hybrid cars can recharge their batteries through a process called regenerative braking (driving on engine power), and still use gas as their primary power source. But plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles have to be charged at a station or at home, so you’ll need to factor that into your trip planning.

Different levels of power. Because hybrid cars have a twin powered engine, the combination of the small gasoline engine and small motor results in less power than one single standard gas-powered engine. Things are a little trickier when it comes to electric cars — some can accelerate faster but their top speeds still can’t reach those of standard vehicles.

Once you’re done car shopping, it will be time to shop for insurance. If you’re not already a pay-per-mile car insurance customer, consider taking a look.

– – –

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.

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.

– – –

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