Are "Fixed" Expenses Really Fixed? Part 3 (Car Expenses)

Earlier, I talked about re-evaluating our expenses and determining what we currently consider “fixed” and “variable” expenses. I discussed housing expenses in Part 2.

After housing, the next biggest expense for many of us is our car. Most of us will put this expense in our “fixed” category because that amount doesn’t change from month to month.

Again I ask… Does it HAVE to be fixed? CAN it change?

Do you have to have a car payment? Keep your car ‘till it’s paid off and WELL beyond. Or, better yet, sell that high-priced vehicle and buy a used one for MUCH less up front…and keep THAT one until it dies. Our current vehicle has almost 250,000 miles…and is still going strong! In most cases, the cost to repair an older car is FAR less than the cost of car payments and insurance on a newer vehicle. In our WORST year, we spent close to $800 on our car. That included new tires (at $450), oil changes & other regular maintenance as well as a “repair” (anything outside of “regular maintenance” you’d do on any vehicle). Our cost most years has been less than that. Our total monthly out of pocket including the purchase price of our car, the tags & taxes, all regular maintenance including oil changes, and repairs has been around $100/month since we purchased our car. You can’t have numbers like that if you’re paying $400-$600/month for a new car.

Better yet, try going down to ONE car. I fully believe it is possible for the majority of families to live on one car. As with many things I’m sure there are exceptions. However, I think they are just that…exceptions rather than the rule. Sure it will take some adjustment, but it’s so worth it. We’ve been a one car family for close to 9 years now, and wouldn’t go back. We only have insurance for one car. We only have gas, maintenance, and repair for one car. If we happened to need to do a repair, we’d rent a car while ours was being fixed. The $30 cost for that was FAR less than if we’d have had 2 cars the entire time “just in case”. If you’re currently making 2 car payments, or paying insurance and maintenance and repair costs for 2 cars, just think of how much money you’ll save by going down to one.

There are even people who can go completely without a car. People in some areas have ditched their cars in favor of bikes. No gas, no high-cost maintenance. Can’t beat that! Even if you can’t completely ditch your car (we can’t), you could still possibly reduce your car expenses and extend the life of your car by utilizing those legs to walk or ride a bike.

I would like to encourage you to look at your car expenses again. Are they really fixed? Is there something you can do to change (lesson) the amount you spend on your car expenses?


1 comment:

Cynthia said...

Last summer my brother decided he wasn't going to fill up his gas tank more than once a month so he did a LOT of bike riding! We live too far out in the country to do that and we have a fleet of vehicles mostly for business so we can downsize either, but we can and do try to group our errands together to save as much gas $$ and time as we can.