Car-Share Programs: Less Stress, More Savings

If you live in an urban setting and own a vehicle, chances are you spend either more money or more time (or both) than you would like to on transportation. If you are exploring ways to have a happier relationship with your wheels, a car-share program might be worth it. These programs, which allow you to reserve online a car parked at a location near you, could save you quite a bit of money depending on your situation. You could truly see big savings if you:

Pay a lot for parking currently
City parking spots can run into the hundreds of dollars per month. Yes, there are definitely some advantages of having your own car nearby, but imagine paying ZERO for storing a vehicle and still having a ride close to you.

Don’t use your car that frequently
One of the advantages of buying a car is that eventually you may have no monthly payment once you own it outright. However, if you are currently just using your car to make a few trips to the grocery and big box stores a month, can you really justify making a car payment of hundreds of dollars every four weeks?

Have high insurance costs
Any comparison between owning and sharing a vehicle will include evaluating all the expenses associated with each option. You definitely should not forget to include insurance costs in the equation for owning. If for whatever reason your insurance costs are high, consider the alternative of sharing and thus paying nothing each month in this category.

Don’t do a lot of long-distance trips
You may tell yourself that you want to hold onto your car so you can make those spontaneous weekend getaways. But consider how often you really do that. If you make longer trips infrequently, it may make more sense to use a car-share program for week-to-week trips and then renting a vehicle when you want to do a longer trip. It helps to do a realistic forecast of your vehicle use for the foreseeable future and then incorporating that into your decision-making process.

Spend a lot on repairs or maintenance
Using your own car to make lots of quick, short trips around the city puts a lot of wear on it. With a car-share program, you don’t have to worry about paying for any of the upkeep. This can be a huge stress-reliever every time you hit a giant pothole.

Shell out for a lot of taxi rides
Do you find yourself using cabs a lot to run errands or do your shopping? Track how much you spend on taxis by requesting a receipt each time you pay for a ride. At the end of the month, total how much you have spent. Then compare this to what you would have spent with a car-share program. You may find that the latter is the better option.

Remember that going with a car-share program could also have the benefit of putting some extra cash in your pocket if you are able to sell your current vehicle. You also don’t have to worry about paying for or renewing vehicle registration or parking stickers. Many vehicle sharing programs also pay any local tolls for you.

Many car-share websites have calculators that allow you to enter a little information about your automotive habits and then get a cost estimate for using their program. This can make it easy to crunch the numbers and see if making the switch makes sense for you.

Revised January 2016

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