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Reducing car costs

This post is sponsored by Youi Insurance

The Building a Beautiful Life and Savings Adventure I started talking about in this Cutting Costs Post is on like Donkey Kong. One of the biggest dints in our annual budget is our car and I’ve been looking at ways to use our car less. We all know cars aren’t great for air quality, but I’m suspicious that our car is also reducing quality of life, too.

For a long time Gordon has been riding his bike to work and yes, he’s a Strava App addict. I may giggle, ahem, guffaw about his ‘if a trip wasn’t recorded on Strava it didn’t happen’ obsession, but in truth I love how it motivates him to ride. This saves us over $60 a week in public transport fares and thousands every year because we don’t need a second car and we no longer pay for his gym membership. It has also inspired our boys.

How to save on car costs | Blah Blah Magazine

On the other hand, as the person who has access to the car, I need to lift my game. It’s funny, because the simple act of walking or riding instead of driving will save money and make the air around us nicer to breathe. How much is this ‘convenience’ really costing me? Imagine how much more relaxed and nicer our cities would be if we all drove our cars a bit less. A girl can dream.

How to save on car costs | Blah Blah Magazine

Saving the $$$$

  1. Walking or riding instead of driving
    Even in the short time we’ve started using our car less, we’ve saved 100s of dollars, met a lot more neighbours (and it turns out a most of them are really nice) and reduced a lot of air pollution.
  2. Pay less for insurance
    Now that we’re using the car less, we are researching ways to pay less in insurance. I like that Youi Insurance (now the lovely sponsors of this post) encourage people to use their car less, by offering reduced premiums in some situations. I hope that more insurance companies follow their lead.
  3. Changing driving habits to use less fuel
    This can mean rolling several trips into one and having a smoother driving technique, with less acceleration and braking to use less fuel. There are lots more great tips for reducing fuel use in this post.

Despite knowing and dreaming about this, I find it hilarious the excuses I come up with for using our car. The 3 biggest are:

  1. I don’t have time to…

But wouldn’t it improve my quality of life to walk or ride with my children, teach them about keeping healthy, get fit myself and enjoy the outdoors? Am I seriously rushing home from the work meeting so I can stick the overtired kids in front of the TV or listen to them whine while I cook them a fancy dinner they probably won’t eat? Instead, we could chat, walk, stop by the park, perhaps take some boiled eggs and salad in a jar for a picnic dinner and amble home, dunk them in the bath and put them to bed. Isn’t that part of the reason I decided to work from home? Why aren’t I taking advantage of it?

We live in the city, a lot of things are in walking distance, my kids aren’t sick, I have full mobility and we don’t have a lot of conflicting needs. This may not always be the case. I’m lucky, I can do this, why don’t I seize that luckiness by both horns and relish these moments that would whiz by if we were in a car?

How to save on car costs | Blah Blah Magazine

  1. I need to go and buy xyz right now…

Really? Do I really need it right now? Do I really need to buy it all? Will it improve my quality of life? Can I make do without it? What am I really foregoing to rush out and buy xyz right now?

How to save on car costs | Blah Blah Magazine

We now have a weekly groceries box delivered and instead of driving to the supermarket every week I buy a few things at the corner store and do a monthly bulk shop. It’s not perfect, but it works most of the time. Everyone’s needs are different.

  1. I need to rush to…

Is that true? Where exactly am I rushing? If I took a moment to plan, maybe I could do a couple of things on that trip, leave a little earlier and not rush. Have an adventure or two along the way.

How to save on car costs | Blah Blah Magazine

This is a tough one for me, because I’m spontaneous, ahem, disorganised. If I took a leaf out of the Planning Queen’s organisation book, I could plan for more freedom from my car. It’s been a bit of an internal fight, but I’m discovering that a bit of planning can lead to a lot of freedom.

How you guys use your cars less

I’d love to know how you wrestle this car dilemma in the comments, but when I did the social media shout out to find out the ways you guys use your cars less there were some great suggestions.

  1. Car share schemes
    The lovely Kris Howard uses the car share scheme GoGet and said, “I’ve never had a problem getting a car, but there are lots in my area. Vans & utes go quick on weekend.”
  2. Hybrid cars
    Ann emailed me to say she was in love with her hybrid car and loves how much less petrol she uses.
  3. Make public transport more enjoyable
    Pete said he subscribes to Audible App to make his public transport journeys more productive and pleasant.
  4. Planning
    Nic Avery said, “We survived (with five kids) on one car through lots of planning, plus our kids being independent and understanding we need to work together.” This pic sums it up beautifully.

 How do you use your car less? What would you gain?

About BlahBlahMagazine

Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine

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17 comments

  1. We lived for years without a car and got used to either walking or taking public transport. Old habits die hard and even now that we have a car, we don’t use it a lot. We both take public transport to work, do online grocery shopping and prefer to walk to local cafes and shops at the weekend than take the car. Plus I got a fitbit and so I am now obsessed with walking to as many places as possible. Now that we have opal cards, trips are usually free at the weekend which means we can explore the city by bus, train or ferry (and have a sneaky beer or two.) Winning!

  2. Since I got my licence at 17, I’ve gone a total of 3 months without a car. I’d love to embrace the public transport and walking, but… I’m too damn lazy!

  3. We just bought a second car as I started my new sales job that sees me drive to all ends of Sydney.
    I do try to walk to the shops or the cafe because well, while Gordon has a Strava app addiction, I have a 10,000 steps one 🙂

  4. I’ve done my fair share of walking and public transport and I think they’re both great options. There are many benefits, but it does require a little more planning ahead and effort. I must make the effort to put my walking shoes on even know with the kids in tow. They could benefit from the fresh air and and adventure rather than zipping around in the car automatically.
    Some great tips here! Thanks for getting me to consider this x

  5. Hi Bele, I loved this post. I interviewed a lovely Melbourne mum recently on what it’s like to live without a car, with a busy family. They’re keeping track of how much they save, but their main motivation is to have ‘one less car’ on the planet. You might enjoy hearing her take on it!

  6. Great post Belle! I’ve never actually owned a car so I’m definitely a walker/PT taker and I love it (most of the time!). I’ve actually been thinking of writing a post on living a car-free life so this might just have been the push I needed to get on to it!

  7. We live in Potts Point in Sydney and got rid of the car as we hardly used it as nearly everything is within walking, cycling or public transport.
    We use GoGet when we need a car for short trips.
    For longer distances we use DriveMyCar Rentals who rent out other peoples’ cars for a week or more at much lower rates than traditional rental companies (and they have cars with tow-bars which means I can tow my Weta Trimaran on its trailer).
    For example, we just had a 2 week tour to Canberra, Batemans Bay and back along the coast in a 7-seater Holden Colorado 7 LTZ for $66 a day (plenty of room for sailing gear, sails, luggage and my partners’ wheelchair) – and no extra insurance hassles like you get from the rental companies.
    I’ve had an electric motor added to my Bicycle (by eMax eBikes) which has totally transformed getting around the hills of Sydney – it now does 40Kph on the flat and 25Kph up the steepest hills – and I can carry my sailing gear with ease.

    • That’s awesome. I love the sound of Drive My Car Rentals. I’ve been looking into the electric bikes with mid length parcel trays to fit two kid seats, so I’m happy to hear they help with the hills.

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