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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On going carless...definitely


first I would like to say that I am sorry I have been out for so long...  I really missed writing this blog... but I was concentrating on my book... which is almost done by now!  Just a few more minor revisions and I submit it! I will then be able to go back on writing more often here... which I really truly enjoy! 

There are tons of things I would like to write about now... having been out for so long!  I would like to let you know about my jobless summer in my new area, my new stimulating contract with a long commute, my son adaptation to high school, my adaptation to  project 333 , fall (which is one of my favourite season) and much more... but first and foremost, I want to talk to you about our decision to go car less!!!

On October 3rd, when I got to work my car broke down....  seriously!  It made a funny sound when I stopped it and it would not ignite again... not even try...  not a single light coming on when I put the key in...  I had to get it towed to the garage across the street...  I know!  not too far but there was no way I would push it and it would refuse to do anything!!! Even the towing guy said it would be faster for him and cheaper for me to push it across the street... but also said he might be tired after and the day was just starting (and probably like the easy $)!  Now the garage called me sometimes after lunch... and had bad news... they were no longer even able to push the car if it was on neutral...   so it was probably engine...  jammed!
We were looking at a minimum 3000$... if lucky...  probably more!  Now technically this car (according to book value, when working, is worth 3000$).  We had to make a decision!!!

Now before you start asking question... this is a 5 years old car... 130000km... no more guarantee of course!!!  And before you assume otherwise, I did EACH and EVERY single maintenance on that car... replacing things when they needed to, changing oil, filters and what not... I even just had a break job done!!!  I LOVED that car....  it was the first car I really chose in all my life...

So when I got home my husband and I had a good long discussion...  assessing what we should do!

Now keep in mind that at the time of making the decision, this was the underlying goal we had in mind:  trying to be debt free and going to a simpler less expensive way of life as well as having money put away for an emergency fund (trying to get 6 months of expenses) - this would enable us to do what we truly love.  We have been working at it for a few years now... one thing at a time... but we were so far... it can't happen overnight! We are almost there...  We live in a small apartment my husband my son and I (800 sq.ft.).  No outside storage or locker...  closet not even packed, almost no storage furniture...  we are getting really close with that goal possession wise...  Living expenses, going from 2 cars to one, from a house to an apartment, cooking more, eating out less, thinking before buying stuff.. has been decrease by roughly 40%...  We have a small remaining debt on our credit card mostly due to me not having a job for 3 months and having to replace bikes (2 of them) that were stolen and going away for a week end with all 3 kids or ours... and a Starbucks addiction (which is quite expensive when you are out of a job - auto refills are nice bu you just don't realize it as much!) not much thus... will be taken care off shortly...

So here what we concluded:

Keeping the car:  Puts us further away from being debt free or having the emergency funds we want, most likely looking at further repair, maintenance, etc...  One thing to take care of... one more thing away from the freedom we aspire too... Faster to get to some places...  More convenient for week end away ( maybe 2 per year), more convenient for family vacation (1 week per year).
So in the next year, 3000$ repair minimum, 600$ in maintenance, 400$ insurance, 4500$ gas for a total of : 8500$ at a minimum we do not put toward our debt and or emergency fund. Basically for convenience on week end away and family vacation (roughly 15 days).

Letting go of the car:  More freedom... getting exactly where we want to be on our goal of not owning a car eventually, commute by bus ( 2340$ bus pass for whole year for all 3 of us), using Communauto (about 1200$ per year maximum), walk more, bike more, be in better shape, enjoy being outside more, save money because malls  and stores won't be as easily accessible, save the trouble of parking the car on the street during our wonderful Montreal winter... no more parking ticket... or stress because of traffic...  able to read while commuting to work (already 2 novels in 2 weeks), no more leg pain because of driving manual in traffic... maybe less freedom to go some places... but no more garage appointment to fit in my schedule...

All in all, financially, in the next year we are saving almost 5000$ (this is assuming there would be no further repairs, tires to change... and no need to buy a new car that would come with lovely car payments!) - Good financial decision.  Stress wise:  Great decision... I am much more relax when I get home... and quite frankly I save $$$ on Starbucks...  on shopping and on groceries... and probably on week ends away too...  I think twice before going out to buy a specific item... Do I really need it?  Is there a way around it? I will also think twice before organizing a week end away... There is so much to do here in Montreal... but living here made me blind to it!  Now that I have to think outside of the box, I see all those things!

So we decided we would give it a try... a good try... I know it may take time for us to adjust...  but we will give it a fair chance... and if it really does not work (which I sincerely doubt - the first 2 weeks have been quite easy and we are not even member of Communauto yet)) I am sure someone at a dealer will be very happy to sell us a car!!! 

What do you guys think?  Would you consider going car less?  Or maybe just down one car?


  1. I think you made a really good choice! The same thing happened to me in April. We had to make a choice. 2000$ worth of repairs on a car that was valued at 2000$... We finally decided to buy a used car, but that is only because I tried to go to work by bus and it took 2 hours, versus 25 minutes by car. We found a good deal because my uncle works for a wholesale car auction. But depending of where you work in Montreal, you don't need a car. Since I work in West Island and the STM is crappy there, I didn't want to spend 3-4 hours a day in the bus... but where I worked before, I used the metro instead of my car because it was more convenient and because I hate driving in Montreal. I now only use my car to go to work or to visit my family. When I go shopping downtown, I use the metro. When I go to the grocery store, I walk. When I go to university, I walk. And Communauto is so convenient! I love that system :) Congratulations, you are doing to great!

  2. Brave choice! not necessarily easy to make! I went from 2 cars to 3 cars for a few months!! and now down to only one for over 3 years now. and not difficult. I am coming to work in the West Island - co-voiturage with Collegue twice a week and bike to work from April to October more than 2-3 times per week and at times take the bus (65 minutes drive-I like it at times - listen to music - times to relax a bit,.).

    So we manage well with only one car. Now this car is mini van,.. so next steps is to size down, least to a small car. I am not yet at the point of being carless,... but I admire people who can do it. The most difficult time is the WE, activites, and going to the grocery,.. I do not see myself doing it by bus or with a small cart,.. it is too far away,.. but we can order by internet and or have it delievered,.. There are always solution for those who seek!!

    MY daugther is getting her driver license,.. she wants freedom now,.. and acccess to a car,.. mini van is not cool for her,.. this is another story,..

    so congratulations, good inspiration, will have an influence on my thinking and behavior,... If I were to do it now, my entire family would divorce from me,.. but we can aim to a better utilisation, reduction and eventually,.. car-less,..