Shaolin Sacrifice: 4 Reasons to Give up your Car

walking

The Shaolin Investor seeks to sacrifice material possessions in order to achieve peace.  Sometimes the best investments we can make isn’t buying something, but rather, removing something from our lives.  And for the modern soul, one of the biggest expenses is their transportation.  Often times the benefits of car ownership far outweigh the costs.  While giving up car ownership might not be visible for every investor, it’s important to consider the top four benefits to giving up your car. But first, it’s important that we get a full understanding of how bad your auto situation is.  I recommend completing the following exercise:

Calculate the Full cost of car ownership

 

1. Calculate your monthly “Cost of ownership.”  This is including car insurance, cost of gas, as well as average maintenance costs such as oil changes and wear and tear on the vehicle.

2.  Calculate your commute time:  Take your daily commute time, multiply it by how many days a week you work, multiply that by 4 (four weeks a month) and then by 50. (assuming you have 2 weeks of vacation a year)

3. Calculate your commute time Cost:  Take the number of hours you commute and multiple that by your hourly wage.  That number will represent how much money your NOT making while you commute.

4. Then calculate your after tax yearly income.  This information will be easily available on last year’s W2, or you can look at your current pay stubs and multiply accordingly.

Now, look at your totals to get a better picture of just how much your car is costing you.

Here’s my personal breakdown from my last job.

 

Car Payment

$325 per month

Cost of Ownership

Full Coverage Car Insurance -$120 per month

Gas- $100 per month

Parking Pass for Trendy Downtown Job – $200 Per month

Maintenance costs- $50 per month.

Total: $600 per month.

40-50 minutes each way:  Total  of 80 to 100 minutes per day.  This equates to roughly 33 hours per month, or 400 hours per year.

My hourly pay was $22.40 per hour.  Multiplied by 400 hours and that equates to about $8,000 per year of money I was NOT earning.

$35,000 per year.

Minus $7,200 in Car costs

= $27,800 yearly pay.

Unpaid Driving time: $8,000

To summarize, I was spending spending $7,000 a year in car expenses, and I was also losing $8,000 a year in unpaid commuting costs.

Now that you have an idea of just how expensive car ownership is, let’s take a look at the top four benefits of giving up your car.

Maximize Your Retirement

Americans spend a ton on their monthly car expenses.  According to finical guru Dave Ramsey the average American has a $475 a month car payment.  That money, when placed in a IRA or 401k could be worth over half a million dollars after 20 years!  This is due to the power of compounding interest.  Compounding means that the more time your money has to grow, the larger your pool will be when you retire.

Let’s look at my costs for example:

Yearly Car expense $8,000 per year for 3 years = $24,000.

V.S.

$8,000 saved in an IRA a year for 3 years =$24,000

The current rate of return on the S&P 500 is on average about 10 percent.

So let’s say that I don’t put in anymore money for retirement for the rest of my life.

Starting Balance: $24,000 X 10% average interest rate X 30 years of compounding.

= $418,785.65

So before you consider updating your current car, remember.  That same monthly car payment could be worth well over $500,000 by the time you reach your 60”s.   However, people are wasting their prime working years by paying high monthly car payments.  They constantly buying new cars, getting new leases, trading in, etc. at a time when their retirement needs to be a top priority.  By even sacrificing a car for just a few short years, we

 

Help your Physical Health

Another consideration is the overall effect on your physical health.  According to the latest U.S. Cenus, there average commute time is approximately 26.1 minutes each way, or a total 1 hour a day.  That equates to 5 hours per week and nearly 200 hours, or 9 days a year.  In addition, most of those Americans are working in office settings where they sit for upwards of 30-40 hours per week. Add in 5 hours sitting in a car, and an hour or two sitting in front of the TV a day, and in total the average American is spending about 50 hours a week sitting down.  This much lack of physical activity can cause a wide array of health concerns.  Obesity, back and spinal problems, lack of energy, all of these can be contributed to a lack of physical movement.

So by ditching the car, you could find yourself with a much more physically active lifestyle.  Even a simple 20 minute walk to the bus stop a day could help burn calories and help keep you in good shape.  Or perhaps you skip the bus, and bicycle to work a few days a week.  Either way the increase in physical activity will do wonders for your overall state of wellbeing.

You can get back the most valuable resource: Time

Time is the most valuable resource any of us get in this life.  Why waste it on commuting to a job.  As stated above, the average American worker is spending 10 days a year driving to and from work.  That is a lot of life that is being wasted when it could be put to better use.  Think about what you could do with an extra 10 days a year.  That’s two 5 day vacations,  that’s 1 day of volunteering a month,  10 day extra days to finish your breakout novel.  Where ever your passions lie, getting more time dedicated to them will prove to be a priceless entity in itself.

Help the environment

According to a report by Environmental Defense Fund, cars release approximately 333 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, which is 20 percent of the world’s total.  Carbon Dioxide is a major source of the air pollution in the world today.  Thankful with the advent of ridesharing and increased spending in public transport, we are now seeing less cars on the road overall.  And by sacrificing your car, you can feel good that you are doing your small part to help the environment.

Next Steps

So as you can see from the examples above, car ownership can be a devastating burden, both financially, physically and emotionally.  Those on the Shaolin path will seek peace and harmony in their lives through minimizing anything that keeps them from finding their Nirvana.  So if you’re ready to ditch the car, or downsize your car to an older cheaper model, please check out the following links to help you in your journey to peace.

Help getting out of your Lease

Swapalease is an online database that connects people in leases, with people who want to buy them out of their leases.  This is an excellent way to get out of your overpriced lease.

Remote Jobs

Working Nomads is an excellent resource for people looking to work remotely.  With hundreds of jobs to choose from in a variety of industries, you could ditch the commute entirely and work with just a resume and a few clicks.

Ridesharing

Zip Car, a car sharing service, saves its users on average 500 a month in car payments and insurance costs.  Not only that but Zipcar reports that drivers 90% of Zipsters drove 5,500 miles or less per year, saving 32 million gallons of oil (219 gallons each!)Not only is Zipcar car saving drivers money, but it is also saving the environment.

Consider an Alternative form of Transportation

Motorcycle

No car ditching article would be complete without a car alternative.  And as a motorcycle enthusiast, I think there’s nothing for freeing than commuting to work via motorcycle.  I’ve ridden everything from Harley’s to Sport bikes, and in my opinion there’s no better commuter bike than the Triumph Bonneville.  It’s the perfect mix of a lightweight design, a tall, upright seating position, and great MPG.  

Triumph Image

https://www.triumphmotorcycles.com/bikes/classics/bonneville/2018/bonneville-t120

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18 thoughts on “Shaolin Sacrifice: 4 Reasons to Give up your Car

  1. Hello and thank you for your informative and thorough article. Never actually taught about giving up my car before. Somehow, it seems like the fastest way of transportation. From reading your article, I guess I was wrong. I read a book called “Rich dad poor dad” and in this book, he is giving the simlair tips you are here.

    Anything that is costing you money, on a monthly level is liability and not an asset. Car needs fuel, and monthly and yearly improvements and investment. So, when you look at it – you loose money on a monthly level. And that is not something you want. Especially, if you bought the card on credit.

    It is worth considering alternative methods of transportation, as you nicely said. Thank you for this eye opening article. You are going on bookmarks.

    Strahinja

    1. Thanks Strahinja,

      I understand that giving up your car is not for everyone.  But I when I found out that the average car payment in the USA was $475 per month (not counting insurance) I was blown away.  That is TONS of money that could be spent in other ways.  And so many Americans just pay that money and don’t even question it.  

      That is why I created Invest Like a Warrior.  As a guide to help people learn about different financial concepts, and help them find ones that work for them.

  2. Ditching your car may sound like a great idea at first but everyone’s circumstances are not the same.  Living in the country does provide challenges that city living does not.  The closest store is a half an hour drive away and there are no buses out here.  I don’t know how long it would take to walk there but it certainly would be a lot of time.You mentioned the use of a motorcycle which would be great if you did not have shopping to do.  I at one time had a motorcycle but every time I needed to stop for groceries I had to go home and get the car.  Very inconvenient.This may be a great concept for younger people but for a person who is retired I will take the comfort and convenience of my car.

    1. Maureen, 

      What kind of Motorcycle did you have?  I’d love to hear your opinion of the new Electric Harley.

      And I totally agree with you that not everyone can get rid of their car.  In that case I would recommend settling for a nice used car and avoid paying top dollar for a new one.   I’d recommend looking into Carvana.  They are an online car shopping website where they can ship you a used car with a warranty for much cheaper than a dealership.  they don’t have the same overhead costs, so they can keep their prices significantly lower.

      Glad you enjoyed the read.

      1. Hi Jamie I used to drive a Honda 250. You have to keep in mind this was back in the 70’s. The car we have now was bought used and we were able to pay cash. We don’t go very far so the expense is not that much. When we both worked we had two cars now that we are retired we do well with just one.

        1. Honda’s are fun bikes. I was always into the smaller bikes. I currently ride a Triumph Bonneville 865cc. Sad thing is now a days a “beginner’s ” Bike is in the 1000.s personally I think 1000 cc bikes are way to much for a beginner.

          That’s great to hear your down to 1 car. Me and my wife are trying to get down to 1 newer car and 1 beater. Hopefully we can get there. Also I wanted to ask if you are a homeowner? I’m creating new content for the Knights section about homeownership, and I’d love to hear your perspective on it. To hear what issues come up, or unexpected costs that can arise.

  3. Some excellent advice, and great points to ponder. I only wish I could sell our car and not have to worry about it. We live in a very rural area though and it is very much necessary. The idea of getting rid of material things is what my wife and I are currently working on though. We have sold a lot of “stuff” and are so much the better for it. Thank you for your encouraging and inspirational article. 

    1. Free4Life, 

      I’m glad you liked the post.  Invest Like a Warrior is designed to help each reader find financial advice that works for their lifestyle.  Downsizing is one hallmark of the Monk class.  Being a Monk is all about learning to live on less, so that you can gain more.  More peace, more time with your kids, and a more well rounded life.  

      The Knight’s section also talks about tips for managing family affairs like buying a home and learning to fortify your finances.  I’d recommend checking that out as well.  

  4. Wow! Very well said. Back in my home country, I used to have my car. Your blog hits me inside because I am a typical mediocre guy who want to show-off. And I tend to spend more money on car accessories (which is not important) just to fulfill my desire on making my car to look great. But now, as an expat. I learnt from my mistakes. I didn’t own a car now. Instead, I rented a house which is 20 minutes walk from my office. Not only I reduce or removed my expenses on commuting, I also help my self to have a 40 minutes walk exercise each day. 

    Your article is an eye opener. I hope many people will read your blog. Thank you for very informative article….   

    1. I totally understand all about showing off.  That’s why I got into motorcycles. haha   Because it’s alot cheaper customizing a motorcycle than it is a car.  I’m about $4,000 into my motorcycle in total cost.  I believe everyone needs a toy or something to splurge on. 

      I’m glad to hear your living in an apartment near work.  I think you will find you feel healthier and are saving money.  Where are you originally from?  Do most people own cars where your from?

  5. This is truly an innovative look at  how to save an incredible amount of money and time i must say I’m intrigued I would add that the stress off sitting in traffic is something that is adversely affected by driving! I was wondering i live  its a more suburban area is there a way to calculate how much Uber or Lyft would cost? Thanks for this great article!

    1. Thanks for the feedback Joe.  It’s hard to say if Uber or Lyft would be right for you.  My favorite ride sharing service by far is Zipcar.  They have cars you rent by the hour.  All you have to do is download their app, pay a small yearly fee, and you can rent by the hour.  

      The company leaves cars in various parking lots in participating cities.  You simply walk up to one, pay the rental fee and you can drive.  It’s usually about $16 an hour to drive a zipcar.  Best thing is you can usually leave it in a different parking lot when your done with it.  

      That means you could spend roughly $320 a month total to get to work in back round trip, 20 days a month.  Plus you don’t pay for gas or insurance with a Zipcar.  But Zipcar isn’t widely available.  Mostly big cities and college towns have them.  But something to look into for sure.

  6. Hi,

    I love Shaolin monks, I watched some documentary about them. There are things that we can really learn from them. I especially like their strenght, physical and mental.

    I totally agree that it is much better to spend time walking or even using your bike rather than a car. First of all, because of the health. People get used to drive everywhere with their car, even to a shop that is like 15 minutes of walk.

    Although, I have to say that sometimes car is irreplaceable, I say that from my experience, cause for some jobs this is necessary.

    Generally, people could use cars less. I’m for some eco-friendly… maybe electrical.. the ones that polute less, but it will take some time till that happens globally.Nonetheless, we should have some faith and try to be more active ourselves.Best wishes,Susan

    1. I’m glad you bring up being Eco-Friendly. 

      I don’t know if you’ve heard the news about Harley Davidson creating it’s first Electric Motorcyle, but it’s set to change the game.  Harley was always known for loud gas guzzling bikes.  But even they are looking to “go Eco”  with an emissions free motorcycle.  Times are a changing that’s for sure. 

      I’m Glad you liked the article.  Which Warrior system do you click with the most?

      1. I haven’t heard about that, I’m so glad you mentioned it. I love Harley Davidson and now when you say this, I’m so thrilled.

        It’s hard to decide which one, I would take strategies from all, but maybe something between the knight and monk!? 😀

        1. Monk and Knight is where me and my wife are at. Our goal is to save enough money to build our own house, but we want to do it as minimalist as possible. Not quite a Tiny house, but not quite a full size home.

          I will also be posting a section for how to work with your spouse when you are different Warriors at heart. Tips on how to negotiate achieving lifestyle and financial goals. Be sure to check it out.

  7. You make some amazing points. You really do have to calculate how useful a car would be to you and continue to recognize the after costs of maintaining one. I will be calculating the cost and maintenance of mine soon to see if it is worth it in my life or if I should just get rid of it now to save for the future.

    1. Ben,

      I’m glad yo hear you are going to figure out the costs. I feel like so many Americans are “pre-programed” to think they NEED a car. That it’s just simply the cost doing business here when really it isn’t.

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