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Should You Sell Your Car If You No Longer Commute?

Photo: aphrodite74, Getty Images

Have you thought of ditching your old car? It could be the easiest way to shore up your finances by allowing you to reduce thousands of dollars in annual expenses. Of course, most people own cars because they need them, but is that still true for you? The pandemic has killed the commute for many of us, and you might be one of them — with a depreciating asset sitting on the driveway.

Cars are expensive

Transportation is a typical household’s second-largest expense after housing.

Car costs vary by car, and a cost-of-ownership calculator can help you determine how much you’re spending. As a rule of thumb, you should be paying no more than 15% to 18% of your income on a used car, especially if you don’t use it.

You might have alternatives

Not everyone can ditch their car, but if you live in an urban area with good public transportation and ride-sharing options, you’ll want to do the maths and see if it works for you. Knowing how much you spend on your car, including gas and parking, should give you baseline that you can compare against with these other options:

  • Public transportation
  • Walking or cycling
  • Taxis, car-sharing, and ride sharing services
  • Peer-to-peer car rentals
  • Rides from a family member or friend

Look at your public transport costs. How do they measure up against how you’re using your car?

Just don’t forget to be realistic about your needs — once in a while you may need to do some heavy shopping, move furniture, or drop your kids off for school. You’ll want to set aside some money for taxis, ride-sharing, or rentals even if you intend to only use public transportation. Also, you might want to put a dollar number on your time and factor in the opportunity cost of doing something else other than driving, like reading or working during your commute.

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