Since the day most of us have turned 16, access to a car has represented many things: freedom, spontaneity, and flexibility. However, if you’re trying to pay off student loan debt, a car comes to represent less positive things.
In fact, living without a car can actually free you financially and prove to be one of the best moves you can make to improve your financial situation.
Here are just a few of the reasons why it may benefit you to give up owning a car in favor of other forms of transportation.
1. Plenty of other transportation options
These days, there are so many options for getting around that owning a car is no longer necessary.
Here are just a few examples:
- Renting a car when necessary, or using services like car2go
- Getting a taxi, or using services like Uber or Lyft
- Using public transportation including bus, light rail, or subways
- Taking advantage of self-propelled forms of transportation like walking or biking
Living without a car doesn’t mean you have to stay home all day. There are plenty of ways for you to get to where you need to go, whenever you need to get there.
2. Freedom from monthly payments
Whether you are buying a car or leasing one, you are making monthly payments.
And even if your car is paid off, there’s still car insurance to think about. Living without a car frees you from these expenses and gives you breathing room in your monthly budget.
Public transportation passes cost a fraction of a car payment. Even if you’re supplementing with services like car2go, Uber, or Lyft, it’s unlikely you’ll pay more than you would on car or insurance payments.
3. Liberation from unexpected expenses
The unexpected expenses associated with a flat tire or engine failure can be challenging to fit into a budget if you’re still trying to pay off debt.
Living without a car means you don’t have to be afraid of the check engine light coming on at the worst possible moment. It also means not worrying about other unexpected expenses, such as paying to park or getting a ticket.
If you don’t have a car, you’re also free from spending money on maintenance issues designed to prevent breakdowns from occurring in the first place.
While maintenance costs are not unexpected, they are irregular. They can also sneak up on you when you least expect them.
Not having a car means not glancing up at that sticker in your windshield and thinking, “Crap, time for an oil change and tire rotation.”
4. No need for a gym membership when you’re living without a car
Increasing the amount of biking and walking that you do will not only have a positive impact on your health. It may also mean that you no longer have to shell out for that expensive gym membership.
Not only that but since you will be working out throughout the day, you are also free from having to work time into your busy schedule to get to the gym in the first place.
5. Enjoy that extra free time
When you are the one behind the wheel, you have to pay attention to the road.
However, with alternate forms of transportation, someone else is doing the driving instead. That means you gain back that time for other things.
You could use that time to catch up on your reading, listening to a podcast, or even binge-watch your new favorite tv show. While it may take longer to walk or bike from place to place, you can use that extra time productively.
Challenge yourself in the short term, gain long-term financial health
For many of us, the idea of giving up our cars can seem like an almost impossible sacrifice.
However, living without a car while you’re getting your debt under control can be one of the most impactful financial changes you can make to improve your situation.
In fact, once you’ve gotten used to living without a car, you may find yourself wondering why you ever tethered yourself to such an expensive and unnecessary item in the first place. What you originally envisioned as a short-term solution may, in fact, result in a permanent lifetime change.
The longer you can go without a car in your life, the longer you can spend that money on other financial goals such as debt repayment, retirement contributions, or savings.
What are you waiting for? The freedom of a car-free life could be yours.
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