I'm spending nearly $400/month on automotive-related expenses for a car I don't enjoy driving. That's about 25% of my monthly income, and when it really comes down to it, I think I'd rather be saving that money for something better, like travel. Or education. Or Scotch. Lots and lots of Scotch.
Car in question is a 2003 Volkswagen Golf. If you know anything about cars and a little about me, this purchase was a mistake, solely for the choice of transmission. Really, I can't stand it. I'm falling asleep at the wheel without a clutch pedal.
Because driving this car is such a boring, arduous chore, I do ride the bus from time to time. I like the bus, mostly. My home is a block away from a major bus route (for MSP folks, the 14) and it gets me a few blocks from work; most of my other destinations (friends in Uptown/Northeast, entertainment/shopping/etc) are a transfer away. What the bus lacks in driving excitement is traded for an exciting tour through North Minneapolis.
Total monthly expenses are broken down like this: $150 car payment, $60 insurance, $160 for fuel. Plus maintenance and repairs, which will likely start piling up on this wonderful little box of Brazilian-built German engineering with 100,000 miles. I still owe $1500 on the car; it's probably worth $3000 in its current condition, needing some attention to the exhaust/emissions system and some minor body work.
It's not like the $400 is a complete stretch of my budget, but I'm just not happy that I'm spending that much on a dinky little commuter hatchback with an automatic. I've had it for almost five years now. Yeah, actually, it's not that I'm unhappy about it, I'm kinda pissed. But let's save that discussion about anger management for another AskMe.
Could I buy a different car? Well, sorta. My credit is lousy; I'm in the 590-640 ballpark. But more importantly, I just graduated, and I don't really want to take on another loan or a lease because I don't know exactly where I'll be in three years, let alone three months. I have dreams of getting my foot in the door at a design agency either here in Minneapolis, or, better yet, in Madrid. Or Montreal. Or Manhattan. And those work dreams trump my car dreams.
So I've come up with three plans. YOU DECIDE:
Plan A is selling the car, paying off the loan, throwing the change in savings, and taking the bus year-round. Hooray for saving money and the environment and all that.
Plan B is selling the car and buying a cheap old beater with the leftover cash, like an E28, E30, W201, or something of that size/shape/vintage. Or maybe a motorcycle, if I can find a working R60 in that price range. I could probably be cool with taking the bus all winter long if I had a sweet old Beemer
to look forward to riding in the summer. Either way -- more fun to drive, lower ownership cost. Maybe not as practical, but I'm not always a very practical person.
Plan C is doing nothing, because, well, this probably isn't that big of a deal in the long run, is it?