Thinking Of Getting Rid Of My Car

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One of the biggest things of being American is car ownership. People love their cars. It is an extension of themselves, in many ways. From the neo-hippies in their Prius, to the muscle-car guido in their Ford Mustang to the yuppie driving the Range Rover. Everyone loves the freedom and fun that their car brings them.

When I first moved up to Hoboken, I didn't have a car. Now, this was back in the mid-90's, and it was a bit of a pain in the ass to get back to Philly. I basically had two choices. One, I could take the train. Two, I could rent a car.

Taking a train then was the days before the Acela. It was usually around $125 round trip from 34th Street / Penn Station to Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, taking the Keystone or NE Regional train. I remember lots of nights waiting for the PATH at Newark Station and really hating not owning a car.

Then, I tried renting cars. At the time we had Hertz in town, up by 14th Street in Hoboken, and I would usually rent a car Saturday morning and want to return it on Sunday. The problem with renting a car, was that every car rental place is CLOSED on Sunday. I hated that. I know why they were closed Sunday and it wasn't because they want to keep the Lord's day sacred - they want to jab the consumers with having to rent their cars an extra day. It would steam me when I would get back to Hoboken by 6pm and then have to wake up before work, the next day, and drop the car back off at the rental place. Was a royal pain in the ass.

Then Zip Car came along. They have parking spots all over Hoboken. There's one parking garage two blocks from my apartment. With my Corporation X discount fee I only pay $25 a year membership to Zip Car, and then weekday hourly rates for a Mazda 3 from $11 or weekend hourly rates of $13 (BMW 328i as $15 weekdays or $17 weekends). With a Zip Car you just park it where you found it, without the hassle of going to the rental counter to check your car back in or paying for extra days. If I have a car for 26 hours, I pay the daily fee plus two extra hours of use, which would be $115 + 26, or $141 for the Mazda.

Sure, it isn't *my* car. But lets break down what I pay for my car a month.

First, I own my car. I bought it in 1999 for $7,000. I pay some maintenance costs over the years, like oil or new tires. The car A/C doesn't work anymore, which was a real pain last weekend when I drove my cousin and her fiancée to our family reunion.

Second, I pay $185 a month for my parking spot across the street from my building.

Third, I pay about $90 a month on insurance for my car & condo.

Fourth, each long drive costs me about $25 in gas.

So, what are we looking at? $300 a month, or $3600 a year just on that alone.

I could drive the Zip Car BMW for 20 days a year or the Mazda 3 31 days before I spent $3600.

I use my car maybe 4-5 times a year to travel outside of Hoboken. Then another 4-5 times a year I may use it if I want to go to the mall or watch a movie or something. My car gets to the point where the security and clock drain the battery down to empty and I have to carry out a battery jump charger to restart my car. Every year I spend about $100 and buy a new car battery from the auto center.

But there is that sense of "freedom" that I enjoy. Also, I would hate to be dependent upon the "Rental Gods" and hope that around the holidays that I get the car I want to drive vs everyone who uses Zip Car to rent the car on Thanksgiving or Christmas weekend. I know me - I know if I thought about a quick trip to the food store or Home Depot or seeing a movie I would "think" about that $11 weekday charge versus paying (in my mind) $0 for my car (when, technically I am paying $300 a month for the car).

Maybe it is time for me to seriously consider getting rid of my car.

Do you have Zip Car? How do YOU like it? Leave a comment below or email me!

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on June 7, 2010 12:02 AM.

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