Is it time to Ditch the Car?

Well it is tax time. Being self employed, that means looking at most every dollar I spent in 2018.

Like many who did the cord-cutting calculation over the last five years, I am doing the Ditch the Car calculation this year.

Do I need this Car? is the new changing world question.

The background:
I am not a millennial, I do not live in a major market and I live in a very marginal walking town, Reno NV. I also don’t have a daily commute to work.

I moved last fall for a better walking situation, closer to the commercial area of the southern suburban sprawl. Two grocery stores are within a 15 minutes one-way walk, which is better than it is downtown or in our hipster mid-town area. We are outside of the allowed Lime bike area.

My wife has a 2007 Honda Element, long paid for and I drive a 2015 Hyundai Sonata with a $408/mo payment. I am certain I am not ready for NO car, but with the Element this is a thinkable thought.

The numbers:
I drove right at 24,000 miles last year, 12600 of those were racked up in 11 business trips covering 64 days. The rest were around town and a few Sunday drives.

Car Payment — $4896
Gas — $2698
Car Ins — $1628
Maintenance — $1355
Tires — $ 822
*Windshield — $ 328
Reg/Smog — $ 312

Total Exp — $12039

*a new windshield is an annual expense here every spring

Add Backs:
The 64 days I needed a rental car @$30/day adds back $1920 and of course this is gas I had to buy as well. Assuming gas @ $2.75/gal and 24 miles/gal the 12,600 miles cost $1444.

This leaves the cost of my ‘around town’ driving at $8675 or $723/mo.

Sorting it out:
I took 23 Uber/Lyft rides last year. Mostly to and from the airport, which is more or less as far as you would ever go in Reno. The total cost was $349 or an average of $15.17

$8675 divided by $15.17 equals 572 rides or 1.9 per day for the 301 days I didn't have a rental car anyway.

It is unimaginable that I would take 2 Ubers a day each and every day. While I may be a 2XMillennial I can still walk and have a good range. As well, we do have the second car and Reno does have a bus.

So let’s say I average 1 per day and save 271 (the .9) rides @ $15.17 equals a savings of $4111 or $342/month.

I have to admit I am surprised by this number. Even if my assumptions are off, that is a lot of leeway.

Life being what it is, however, it is still not this simple.

I saved $1,658 or $138/mo in taxes by deducting all those miles driven in ‘my’ car. Bringing the total savings to me down to $204/mo.

Then there are the intangibles. First is the ability to take off on a moments notice. ‘Hey let’s go … for the weekend or day’ is a thing at our house, which most of would be nixed if I had to go get a rental car. On top of that twice in recent memory emergencies have put me in the car at mid-night and heading across the country. Reno is not the kind of town where you can rent a car at mid-night.

The first, plays into the second. The Element while sound is not a comfy long haul road car. The Sonata is a great touring car, with all the comforts.

Lastly, there are a few weeks and weekends, in the summer, here in Reno when you are not renting a car for a reasonable price or at all.

Being from a generation where a car = freedom, the first and third mis-givings will be the excuse to delay this one more year. $200/month is just not enough to take away the convenience.

I was not an early cord-cutter, but I am going to be an earlier car ditcher. Just not this year.

May your life go well