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Old 12-23-2018, 11:57 PM
Location: Silicon Valley
17,218 posts, read 21,184,423 times
Reputation: 32119


I'm super low income, and as much as I love the freedom of having my own vehicle, it seems like every time I save up some money, it ends up going into my truck. It's a 93 Nissan pickup, and I paid cash for it a few years agao. I only carry liability insurance on it and it's really cheap to register every year.

But, on my very limited budget, and it's age, and the bad gas mileage it gets, etc., (the best mileage this model ever got even brand new was 19mpg) after crunching the numbers, I think the only way I'm going to be able to save any money, is to get rid of the truck.

I've lived car-free in the past - many years ago - in a very bike-friendly town (Davis, CA). A bike is not an option for me at my age now and where I live - too dangerous and theft is a real problem.

But, I qualify for a cheap transit pass at only $30 per month, and I'll be able to ride the buses and light rail trains without paying for transfers, etc. I think there's a surcharge of around $2 I would have to pay out of pocket, if I take one of the express buses, but that's it. I pretty much never take BART or the Caltrain or Amtrak, so it would be rare for me to pay for those separately.

I will end up spending more on a few things that will be too inconvenient to buy with public transportation, so I'll have them delivered. One thing in particular - I buy a roll of sod from Lowe's every month or so and lay it in a tray on my balcony for my dog to use for relieving herself in-between walks or if she's home alone for a while. There's a delivery service for this on Amazon that will cost me $30, instead of the $8 or so, I've been spending on the sod.

And, I may want to take an Uber once in a while or other train, etc.

I'll be able to sell the truck to the state of CA for about what I could get if I was to put it up for sale on Craigslist - the state wants to get old less-efficient (polluters) vehicles off the road. So, selling it would be no problem and I'd have an instant savings account - and no more repair bills for the truck. No more surprises.

I started trying out a couple buses and the light rail this week, getting my feet wet to be sure I want to do this. It won't be perfect, but I really like the idea of having monthly expenses that are more predictable and growing up an emergency savings account again. And, have more money for entertainment.

Last year I had a savings account of around $2,000, and the transmission died and it cost me $2400. About 6 months before that I'd put $400 into it, and it needs more work for another $400. I just can't get ahead of the maintenance on this vehicle, and any vehicle I can afford would just be another similar situation, I'm afraid. And I trust my mechanic, so I'm not being ripped off by my mechanic.

I'm retired and so don't need to commute, it's just me and my dog and I have a couple of social/volunteer things I do every week, where I'll need to take the bus or light rail train, but for the most part, don't have any time constraints or pressures or schedules that aren't flexible. I can actually walk to do a lot of shopping, too.

My income changed (lower), and I just feel like I need to decide if I want a savings account or a vehicle. There just doesn't seem to be any way to have both, anymore. I think the stress of not having any emergency fund is worse than the idea of not owning a vehicle anymore. I think it's time to accept that I just can't afford one anymore.

And one upside, is I'll walk more, which will be good for me.

Anyway, have any of you taken this plunge and how did it go?

Last edited by NoMoreSnowForMe; 12-24-2018 at 12:08 AM..

Old 12-24-2018, 02:16 AM
Location: Outside US
570 posts, read 238,060 times
Reputation: 671
Originally Posted by NoMoreSnowForMe View Post
Anyway, have any of you taken this plunge and how did it go?
In the 90s I disliked suburbs and 100% dependency on the car (I still feel the same way).

I lived in the District of Columbia and when I moved to live there I did not buy a car for a year.

As we know, DC has decent public transpo options. It's also a cool place to walk

After that year when I bought the car b/c I got a job out in the burbs I did the mandatory: insurance, occasional parking tickets, taxes, and a decent amount of my time commuting.

Without a car I did not miss out on hardly anything socially or in fun.

But certain jobs outside of DC in VA and MD were not possible without wheels.

Good on you.
Old 12-24-2018, 05:28 AM
Location: Cebu, Philippines
2,751 posts, read 1,004,729 times
Reputation: 5363
When my eyesight got too bad to drive, I had to. I adjusted my lifestyle and I was fine.
Old 12-24-2018, 05:48 AM
66,533 posts, read 67,659,485 times
Reputation: 44571
this is where choosing where you live can be very important .

when we thought about retiring to the pocono's where we had a house it scared us to think that there was no public transportation if i could not drive . that alone was a deal breaker and we retired right here in nyc .

we have one of the most extensive public transportation systems in the world and that is important . while my wife has a licence she is not comfortable driving . so if i am not home she takes public transportation every where .

my ex wife gave up her car too because of affordability . she does fine most of the time .

i always say one big pitfall of reverse mortgages is being in an area with no public transportation then finding yourself unable to drive .

now you have little to no equity left to even move .


Last edited by mathjak107; 12-24-2018 at 05:57 AM..
Old 12-24-2018, 07:34 AM
196 posts, read 60,980 times
Reputation: 112
It’s nice to see someone is honest about the needs of an older vehicle and not the “I have a 25year old Chevy , it needed nothing except tires ; brakes; and oil changes”.
Old 12-24-2018, 07:41 AM
12,095 posts, read 16,793,563 times
Reputation: 17413
Bus and sod at current price are 52$/mo. What does the old beast run you per month? What else do you expect to break 2019?
Old 12-24-2018, 07:43 AM
Location: Orlando
1,845 posts, read 2,454,432 times
Reputation: 6671
Boy, I wish I could go car-free. One of my kids has lived in Chicago for 25 years and has never owned a car. He uses buses, the El, Uber. I envy him that freedom. I have never liked driving.

Where I live the public transportation is sketchy, not really an option. I live in an urban area and can walk to my grocery store, drug store, hair salon. Library and doctors/dentist are too far away for that.

My eyesight is diminishing, and I'm sure in a few years I'll have to give up driving. I guess I'd better start getting used to Uber.
Old 12-24-2018, 09:26 AM
Location: Cochise county, AZ
4,668 posts, read 3,128,739 times
Reputation: 9741
When I lived in Minneapolis I used to be car free. Here, outside of Sierra Vista, AZ, I wouldn't try it. I am thinking about moving into Sierra Vista proper because they have bus service if my eyesight goes.

You might try it for awhile and build up your savings. It's scary not to have back-up savings. I was/am lucky to have a good vehicle but I did without and saved for it until I could afford one. I also am on limited income, social security, and it wasn't the easiest thing to do. I became very frugal.

I know where my brother lives in Illinois they have the transit service and it worked great. $30 a month will save you car insurance, gas and maintenance. That sounds awesome. When I was saving for my car I used Amazon a lot. It worked out fine.
Old 12-24-2018, 01:25 PM
Location: The Triad (NC)
27,116 posts, read 58,929,345 times
Reputation: 29809
Originally Posted by NoMoreSnowForMe View Post
But, I qualify for a cheap transit pass at only $30 per month,
and I'll be able to ride the buses and light rail trains without paying for transfers, etc.
...BART or the Caltrain or Amtrak, so it would be rare for me to pay for those separately.
And, I may want to take an Uber once in a while or other train, etc.
And one upside, is I'll walk more, which will be good for me.
EXPECT to both need and want to take an Uber or taxi fairly regularly. Walk or bus TO the grocery or Big Box
and Uber home. Budget for these (and BART too) expenses so they aren't a surprise or force you to do without.

Uber has somehow classed up Gypsy cabs.
I'm not sure it's an improvement.
Old 12-24-2018, 02:42 PM
Location: Tucson, AZ
2,192 posts, read 7,550,601 times
Reputation: 3005
My 2002 Nissan Altima is a good car, but not worth more than $2000 if I sell on craigslist. My car looks almost like new, but has 171,000 miles. Today the "check emissions system" light came on. I checked the fuel filler cap, and installed a new air filter, but the light did not go out. So now, I'll have to get someone to hookup a diagnostic system and see what emissions system part needs replacement. I hope it is not the expensive catalytic converter.

I was in Germany for 3 months over the summer with just my bicycle for transportation, along with some local trains. I could easily live car-free in a medium to large city in Germany. Here in the USA, it would be more of a challenge. I could live car-free here in Tucson most of the year, but the hot weather months are brutal. I can pedal my bicycle to everything I need easily, but would need to do the errand trips in the very early morning hours.

I lived in the Jersey suburbs outside of NYC in the early 1990s. Car free there would also work, especially if I was in Hoboken, Union City or Jersey City.

In any place that I would consider living car-free, I would find a nearby place (not at an airport) where I could rent a car for weekend trips outside the metropolis. Many metro area car rental places have really good weekend rental rates, especially outside of peak tourist season or holidays.
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