This is a sad love story between a girl and her truck.
Once upon a time, I had a vehicle. Actually, it was several times and several vehicles.
Come to think about it, I’ve owned a truck continuously since I first got my driver’s license at the age of 16. I grew up in the country, and a vehicle meant freedom and independence. It was something that was very important to me as a teenager, and even now.
My first vehicle was a wee rusty old Mazda B3000. I loved that thing. It’s what brought me up to Alaska back in 2005.
I loaded that thing up with me, my mom, my aunt, 8 sled dogs, 2 dogsleds, a bicycle, and the remainder of my worldly possessions a mere two weeks after graduating from high school.
I pointed the thing north, and drove for 3,000 miles. It was a bit of a comical sight, to say the least. We put the Beverly Hillbillies to shame with all of the junk I had hanging off of my truck.
My second vehicle was a much nicer Dodge Dakota. Three months after we bought it, though, we realized we had a bit of a turd on our hands when the transmission went out and a $3,000 repair bill was in order.
Looking back, we should have known better, as we purchased the vehicle from a park-and-sell car lot on Fort Wainwright that was aptly termed the “lemon lot.”
The remainder of the Dodge’s life didn’t go so well. Repair bill after repair bill kept the credit card balance ticking ever upwards (something I would not condone today), and when we knew we were going to move to Colorado in the summer of 2014, we knew we had to sell it.
We had several reasons for selling it. We wanted to get the thing off our hands so we wouldn’t keep shoveling money into it, and more importantly, we had no money to fund the moving costs.
It was going to be $1,000 to rent a U-Haul trailer and drive it over the Alcan highway, not to mention the cost of gas, hotels, and restaurants. Luckily, we were able to sell it before we moved (unlike our house). We pocketed an extra $6,000 which allowed us to move without racking up too much more debt.
Related post: Why We’re Giving Up Our Home
Uh Oh…I’m Gonna Have To Give Up My Car For A While
I figured that I’d just be able to buy another truck when we got here. I had no plans or numbers to back me up on this. I’d just assumed that I’d always have a truck. In fact, even those two weeks it took to move to Colorado left me feeling vulnerable and trapped without my own vehicle to escape from my crazy husband (just kidding—sort of). He is a weird one sometimes.
If there is a supreme god of trucks somewhere in existence, he is surely laughing his ass off at me right now. Not only did I not get a vehicle when I got here, I haven’t had one at all—for 32 months and counting!
It’s been a bit of a difficult transition for me.
We live smack dab in the middle of Fort Collins, and luckily I am able to take advantage of public transportation. It still seems weird to me to take the bus. I’m not going to lie: I had to have my city boy husband accompany me on my first bus ride to show me how public transit buses work.
I despised it, though, and still wanted to move on to getting a truck as quickly as possible.
I’m Gonna Have To Use Public Transit?!
Over time, I’ve gotten used to riding the bus. In fact, sometimes it’s even nice not to have to worry about traffic. That’s good, because if I had to drive through rush-hour traffic I’m pretty sure I would have had an aneurysm by now. That would definitely not be a good thing for the finances.
Related: Swagbucks is a great free money-making activity to do while riding the bus.
Even though I’m okay with riding the bus for now, I know that eventually I’ll have to get another vehicle. I’m still a country girl, and I don’t do this whole city thing well. Still, I can’t help notice the fact that I’ve been saving a lot of money by not having car—a ton of money, in fact.
Wait…Maybe This Is A Good Idea After All
Let’s break this down and look at what I would have paid each year by buying a car, and how much I’ve saved by giving up my car instead.
I found a car on Craigslist that would be a feasible car for me to buy right now. It’s a functioning 1998 Toyota Rav-4 for $4,000. Sure, I’d like something nicer, but this one runs and from the ad it doesn’t look in too bad of shape.
Here’s what it would have cost me up-front and per year to buy and maintain this vehicle.
- Auto Price – $4,000
- Auto Loan Interest – $55.50
- Insurance – $687.31
- Gas – $313.76
- Registration – $133.33
- Repairs/Maintenance/Tires – $914
In other words, I’ll spend $4,055.50 up-front for the vehicle, and then each year I’ll shell out another $2,048.40.
If I would have went ahead with my gut instinct and bought the car when I first got to Colorado, I would have shelled out $9,517.90 so far.
That doesn’t sound so bad, except when you consider my income. It took me about four months to even find a job when I got here, and the only one I could get for the longest time paid $32,000/year. I would have spent nearly a third of my first-year earnings on a damn vehicle.
Yep, that’s gonna go over with my budget like a fart in church.
Can I Keep Saving Money?
Instead, if I continue with my current plan of saving a minimum of $100/month toward a car purchase, I will be able to buy this outright in 3.3 years. If I park that money in my high-interest savings account at 1%, I’ll even earn an extra $172.50 to boot!
Will I be able to go for 3.3 years without a vehicle? I don’t know. It all depends on where my future job prospects and living situations are all located, whether me and my husband’s schedules align so we can rely on one vehicle, and whether or not we live along a public transportation route.
But for the time being, I can say for damn sure that giving up my car is definitely one of the wiser financial decisions I’ve made.
Have you had to transition from a two-car to a one-car household? Do you eschew autos? What are some of the difficulties and benefits you’ve faced? Leave a comment below!