Monday, January 26, 2009

Car conundrum.

Blogglings, I am plagued by indecision. I have made pro- and con- lists. I have sought the advice of others. I have researched. And agonized. And am still back where I started: stuck.

Here is my question. Do I really need a car?

Moons ago before I moved to Chicago, in a far away land called Indianapolis, I drove a perfectly respectable 1998 Honda Civic. It was approaching 100K miles and I decided to trade it in for something a little more sturdy and snow-tolerant. Which is when I bought my beloved Subaru Forester. With 9K miles (or maybe 11K), it was a year or two old and just lovely. It kicked winter's ass. It was roomy. It held my dog. The then-boy's dog. My bike. His bike. All kinds of work stuff.

And then, I found out that I might be headed to Chicago. (Point of fact, I actually negotiated the terms of my hire in Chicago while sitting in my 'Ru while pre-partying in the parketing lot at a Jimmy Buffett concer, margarita in hand. but I digress.)

This mark my three years in Chicago. In that time, I haven't even managed to get 20K miles on the odometer _ not 20K more miles, just 20K total. (And several thousand of which was added during my moving back and forth from Indiana.)

Truth be told, I rarely drive and try to force myself to use it once a week, if for no other reason than to justify my $403 monthly car payment. (Which makes for a freaking high per-drive ratio.) I walk to the grocery store. I use public transit for work and to meet friends. I walk to church. When it's not sub-zero I ride my bike practically everywhere. Parking is tight in my neighborhood, so I don't use my car after 5 p.m. because I'll have no hoping of parking otherwise.

Now the economy is tanking and I'm a little nervous. I'm not sure I need my car. And I'm fairly certain I don't need *this* car. But it's a great car. I'm not upside down on my payments and if I can last another 18 months, I'll own it free and clear with a car that will likely run until I die.

Or, I can sell it pay off the rest of the note, put the extra toward lowering my credit card balance and sock a little away for a down payment should my life situation change in a few years and I decide I need wheels again. If I sell the car, I'd probably get a zipcar or igo membership. Plus I get the benefit of paying off debt. And I could actually run errands in the evening, thanks to my car sharing service.

I keep falling back on the phrase "penny wise and pound foolish." But I also don't want to be "penny poor and pound poor," you know?

But you guys are smart. And urbane and clever. What do you think? You won't make my decision for me, but maybe you've got other points I haven't thought of that might help tilt the scale.


Margie Newman said...

Team Newman says this:

If you never use it, then get rid of it. We are jealous of your mass transit and Zip cars! If you aren't going to lose any money - then go for it!

But if you are going to lose money on it then hold out!

Margie Newman said...


We also say you must keep some level of car insurance though - Dave says it keeps you from having "breaks in your coverage" which means something to your insurance company. So just get the basics because you won't own a car.

The Modern Gal said...

Honestly, from what I gathered from your previous post about money, you could use that little bit of extra money. But, keep in mind with the economy as the way it is, you might not get as much for it as you expect to.

Amber McDowell said...

When we moved to DC, I thought the world was ending when we sold the hubby's car and became a one-car household. He now drives my car, and I take the metro everywhere. I can barely remember the last time I drove it. When I need wheels, I rent a zipcar. It's actually kind of nice! I say go for it!!

Currer Bell said...

DUDE. Rip off the fucking bandaid. Seriously. You were hemming and hawing about this months ago. Get rid of that thing! You don't need it. Feel lucky to live in a city with such wonderful public transport. If you get rid of the car, you can afford to buy cute new shoes to wear as you walk to the El.

jessica lowry said...

I am highly jealous that getting rid of your car is an option. I would stop driving today if I could. So that being said: bye bye vehicle.