Is It Downsizing Time?






Vehicles - multiple cars/trucks, RVs, boats, trailers, 4-wheelers,/snowmobiles, planes? (and registration, insurance, storage, and upkeep for them all); new car turnover:
Vehicles costs - quite possibly a touchy subject!

I know few couples who get along with only one vehicle these days, especially if both work out of the home (though certainly it can be done). Most people I know, though, have more than one vehicle per person – and that’s not counting the recreational items. While it might make excellent sense for special reasons (business use of a particular car, real need for a truck, or whatever), I suspect that most families could recoup a lot of money by downsizing within their garages and driveways alone!

I have a working single neighbor who has a "commuter car" and a truck – the truck, I suppose, because she bought a rural home and wants to occasionally haul messy garden stuff. How much money do you suppose she’d save yearly if she paid more for the gas it would take to use her truck as her commuter vehicle? The exact answer depends on the mileage she puts in commuting to work, of course – but let’s just look at what she’d save on (and you could use this list to plug in your vehicle cost figures):

  • Yearly vehicle registration
  • Yearly vehicle insurance
  • Depreciation on value of vehicle
  • Whatever room it takes to store the vehicle (i.e., if garaged, this adds to the size/cost of the home required)
  • Maintenance of the vehicle as necessary (regular tune-ups, oil/filter/belt changes, washing? – plus repairs as they crop up… and most of them are majorly expensive) – including the time it takes to get the work done
  • Plus the (ever-dwindling) equity in the vehicle that she might recoup by selling it

Actually, this woman just took early retirement... and bought a (used) camper van so she could take her granddaughter on fun overnight fishing trips. (Then found out her granddaughter is claustrophobic and afraid of bugs.) Living your dreams can be very wonderful... and exceedingly expensive. Many people keep the remains of their dreams in their driveways...

Other neighbors of mine, an older couple (not at all wealthy), have two compact cars (one old and one new), a truck – kept to pull the boat and trailer – and a motor home. Wow, that’s a lot of expenses, even without their using any of it! And, like many other folks who used to recreate with vehicles, they rarely do more than drive the new car. …But they keep the older one because "it’s a pretty good car", and they’ve fallen prey to the notion that because they wouldn’t be able to sell it for much, they might as well keep it – they just can bear to "give it away for a song"! Only, they’re not asking themselves an important question:  how much is it costing them to keep it?

You know, you can rent extra vehicles – including RVs and boats and snowmobiles, etc. – when needed for a whole lot less than it costs you to own them. (And no upkeep! Someone else pays the repair bills!) If it’s your delight to spend the summer traveling, an RV does "save on motel bills"… that is, it saves you from paying motel bills – but does it actually save you in the long run over driving a car and renting rooms wherever you go? (and don’t forget to factor in the money you’ve got tied up in the equity, on the vehicle and the parking space).

Do what you will – but vehicles costs may be a place to gain a lot of ground quickly.

(Do you actually need to have your car washed regularly?)

A brief word about car loans:  refinance.  

On the new car turnover habit:  New cars lose value as soon as you drive them off the lot - and they lose a great deal of value over just a few years. Despite the popular conception that it saves you money to trade in your car every few years, this may be a costly misconception (it saves you peace of mind). If you buy one of those trade-ins from a new car dealer instead, you'll save thousands of dollars (and though dealer prices on used cars average high for the used car market overall, their not the pigs-in-a-poke that other used cars are - because a dealer will only keep those trade-ins they can stand by... the troublesome others go to auction and wind up at the little used car lots). You may be amazed to learn that installing a remanufactured engine in your car can be a far better deal than trading up, if other aspects of the vehicle are in good shape (see this page for some information about that).

About vehicle insurance:  review your plan? Maybe you're carrying unnecessary coverage (e.g., expensive collision for an aging car) or too-high deductibles. And of course, a newer car costs more to insure than an older one - another possible rationale for reviving your present car rather than dishing out many thousands of dollars for a new one.

(I’m not even going to go there about planes! If you have one, you know full well how expensive they are. Ah, but to fly!… a strong allure, no doubt.)




BACK TO:  Divestment of money-sinks
BACK TO:  Ways to save
BACK TO:  "Downsize" in the home you've got


Gordon Pioneering - Copyright 2007 & onward