How much does your transportation cost?

>> 1.19.2010

My "How Much?" series is back for 2010! I've picked apart the costs of my hair, face, and pet among other things (check out "The Budgets" tab in the upper right of the blog to get the lowdown on all of these), but with my car on my brain (seriously, I don't know why my car insurance payment has to come right after Chrismas!), it's time to get the lowdown on its costs:

Monthly Payments~ $0
I’m not like most people in that I don’t have monthly car payments to make. In my opinion, it’s worth making sacrifices to find a car that you can either afford to pay off quickly or completely at the time of purchase.

Insurance~ $647.50 twice a year
As tough as it is, I always pay my six month policy in a lump sum for a savings of $58. In addition, I keep the payment totals low by opting for large deductibles. I’d rather have that money in my emergency account than in the insurance company’s funds. EDIT: It's probably important to note that: 1. I have a newer car 2. I was in an at-fault accident last year. I wish I was eligible for some of the super-low rates you all have!

*Thrifty tip: Have a talk with your insurance representative about what policy discounts you qualify for. I was able to get an additional $36 knocked off of my policy for having earned a college degree and owning a home.

State Registration~ $73.30/ year

State Inspection~ $14.50/ year

Oil Change~ $35 twice a year
My car needs an oil change every 5-6,000 miles. As surprising as it might sound, I usually drive a little less than 10,000 miles a year… which works out to a grand total of two oil changes.

*Thrifty tip: check your owner’s manual for recommended oil change mileage. The old standard was 3,000 miles (and that’s what Jiffy Lube will tell you to go by), but most modern motors have a 5,000 mile standard.

Gas~ $48/ tank
Although I love my car, I don’t love the fact that it requires premium gasoline. Although I do pay an average of $.25 more per gallon, my gas bills are more than made up for by the cheaper Texas gas prices and the fact that I only use a couple of tanks a month.

Grand total: $3,948.80 or $329.07 per month (ouch!)

I was stunned after adding up all of the costs associated with driving my car for a year…and I didn’t even account for other minor maintenance costs such as tire rotations or filter replacements! How do your costs compare? Do you spend half as much on insurance or three times as much on gas? Are you a city bus or subway taker?


Mrs. Chic January 19, 2010 at 10:49 AM  

Love you vehicle it looks like a Mazda SUV which I love and want one! i have a mazda3 -- Wow nice gas prices. I bareyl have to fill my gas tank....I take the train to work

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog January 19, 2010 at 11:01 AM  

@Mrs. Chic~ Yep, it's a CX7. I needed a car that I could use for dogs, bikes, and home improvement projects so it was perfect!

Danielle and Clint January 19, 2010 at 11:04 AM  

Before I owned my home, I leased vehicles. A couple years ago, I purchased my first vehicle, and LOVE it! My tip is to do a little research and buy the car you are in love with. Also, check out warrenties. Since the auto companies aren't doing so hot, they are offering lots of deals. And, check to see if you know anyone that works for one of the auto companies...extra discount!

dolores @ "Welcome to My Humble Ablog" January 19, 2010 at 11:10 AM  

Thankfully, Chris and I have a short work commute so our gas costs are fairly low (considering he drives a 350z which can be a gas guzzler).

We pay our car insurance once a year and oddly enough, combining both cars to one company turned out to be a lot cheaper compared to what I was paying for my car alone!

McLaura January 19, 2010 at 11:19 AM  

I sold my car when I moved to DC, as it was going to be too expensive and too much of a hassle to deal with. So I spend about $100 a month on transit ($60 of which my work pays for), and I on average spend about $50/mon on renting zipcars for big shopping trips, etc. Throw in a a few taxi rides per month, and I probably spend around $175 or $200/mon ($115 or $140 of my own money).

Anny January 19, 2010 at 11:22 AM  

I normally take my car into the dealer for oil changes because they mail coupons that make it cheaper than local shops. They ALWAYS tell me to come back in 3000 miles and I always have to go check my manual and find out when I'm *really* supposed to show up.

What a pain!

Amanda January 19, 2010 at 11:24 AM  

I got a new (to me) car from the 'rents five years ago after my freshman year of college. She's still going strong (well, pretty strong) and although she's nothing pretty or nice in any way at all really , not having a car payment is sooooo great. I don't drive too much, so I don't spend a lot on gas. However, when you break it down monthly like that (and you don't even have a car payment!) it makes me realize how expensive driving really is! Did you buy your car brand new? It seems like insurance is more for a brand new car. Also, they don't always let you choose high deductibles.

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog January 19, 2010 at 11:33 AM  

@Amanda~ Yes, I got my car three years ago so the insurance costs are much more for it versus a car with more mileage.
My insurance company (Progressive) let me pick between deductibles, but some might not... it's always worth checking!

Babs January 19, 2010 at 12:01 PM  

It's definitely worth checking for discounts. When we bought our house last year, I was required to add my financé to my car insurance policy in order to get the home insurance (standard rules for USAA). We thought it was going to be a problem but it ended up saving us $1,200 a year! Maybe it's because we use the same company for both home and auto though. Maybe try looking at if you have different companies?

Kristina January 19, 2010 at 12:38 PM  

Wow, that is a big chunk. I get way more oil changes than you do-- but I also drive a lot more. One thing I've discovered is the beauty of online coupons when going in for an inspection. It's only a once a year thing, but I always go in armed with a 50% off coupon-- search online to see if your car-care place offers them, too.

Sweetfern Handmade

Kate @ Twenty-Six To Life January 19, 2010 at 12:59 PM  

I am always so impressed that you add these costs up! We're a two car household , one car is paid off and we're working on the second. I can't wait until the second is paid off so we can get those costs down!

The Brick Cottage January 19, 2010 at 2:36 PM  

Ok, I decided to participate in this one because we're thinking of trading in the car we're making payments on and getting a cheaper car since I'm no longer commuting. And our grand total for two cars is $521. That includes a $326 car payment. We really save a lot of money with our insurance provider--I only pay $672 a year for mine (and that's on a new car) and my husband pays $636 per year on his used car. I save $433 per year on mine due to having multiple line (house and car), multicar (2), vehicle safety, and the biggest saver being accident-free (saving us $180 per year). We don't spend too much on gas either since my car is used for running errands and my husbands commute isn't that far, so once a month fill up for me and twice a month for him.

Thanks for forcing me to do the math on our car situation! :)

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog January 19, 2010 at 2:44 PM  

@The Brick Cottage~ It sounds like you're doing great on the car costs! I forgot to mention above, but I had an at-fault accident last year and I'm still trying to shake it off! I hope to try and combine plans when I shop for home insurance this summer.

seejanegetrich January 19, 2010 at 3:15 PM  

My insurance as you know is much less at $23 ish per month and that is because my car is old.

I have never checked my manual (will do this week) but I always go past the 3,000 by 500-800. The last time I went over it by 1,500 and my oil tank was bone dry when I pulled in and the mechanic wasn't none too pleased.

You didn't mention parking. I have to pay a yearly $300 for parking at school. Also, I take the metro sometimes because it is so hard to find parking.

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog January 19, 2010 at 3:21 PM  

@seejanegetrich~ Good point about parking, I know that some people have $100+ monthly lot fees. Luckily, my office has its own lot and I don't have any parking related expenses (Nate works downtown and has free garage parking for us whenever we need it).

Sarah@Tiffany Ln January 19, 2010 at 3:43 PM  

I drive a 2003 Chevy Impala... we still have car payments of $290 a month. Insurance is $70 a month (we pay it monthly... we used to pay it in full, but got away from it.) Gas is approx. $35 per week (I commute 20-25 miles one way... so 40-50 miles per day.) So I have to fill up once per week, but the impala gets on average 25-30 mpg. Maintenance, I change my oil every 3,000-5,000 miles... going on 5,000 this time as I haven't found time to get it done. And we have the tires rotated every 6,000. We have a place in town that does a $15 oil change and $30 tire rotation... My oil gets changes probably 4 times per year, every 3 months, and my tires rotated twice per year, every 6 months. And probably $75 for tag fees... we don't have a required inspection in Georgia. So we spend approx. $516.25 PER MONTH on our vehicle. Double OUCH.

Meg January 19, 2010 at 4:57 PM  

I have a Honda Fit which is super reliable and awesome with gas. I have a one hour commute one way (I know, shoot me. Gotta love Atlanta!) and even though my commute is 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, my little car's tank lasts 7 days and it's only about 17 or 18 dollars to fill her up. But I do make car payments. I can't wait until that's over and I can use that money for something else!

micah @ the yellow front door January 19, 2010 at 6:55 PM  

Both of our cars are paid off (finally!) and we have fairly short commutes to work (10-20 minutes) so we don't spend a whole lot. I dread the day we have to get a new car and make payments again!

Elisa @ whatthevita January 19, 2010 at 8:25 PM  

we just recently got a new used car (dodge caliber) and loved it until we got a flat tire.. was shocked to learn that a new tire, even at a discount place, cost us 150 bucks! my old car, ford mustang, cost me around 60-80 for a new tire. big difference... so if anyone's looking for a new car, might be a good idea to see how much the tires cost...

Mel January 19, 2010 at 8:38 PM  

I just paid our 6-month insurance too. Why is it that it's due right after the holidays? Boo! No car payment, but gas in Chicago is not cheap. I think the hubs said it costs him about $50 a week. I, on the other hand, spend about $80/month on the bus - taken out of my paycheck pre-tax!

Strapless Living January 19, 2010 at 8:41 PM  

i'm the luckiest girl in the world in that my office pays for my monthly unlimited subway pass ($89/month) so my only transportation costs occur when I forget my pass (deaathh) or have to take a cab to/from the airport (which can run a ghastly $40 each way). so while my in-city costs are usually no more than $20 each month, I have to fly anytime I want to go home to see my parents, or to see friends in other cities (which means airfare plus another $80 for round trip cabs), so I still budget about $200 each month for total transportation. oy.

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog January 19, 2010 at 9:19 PM  

@Elisa~ Great point about the tires; I think that's something that most people don't think about!

Sara @ Russet Street Reno January 19, 2010 at 9:36 PM  

Holy cow, your insurance is astronomical! Me and Shaun each pay around $370 twice a year, and we always pay the 6 month premium in full to get the discount as well. It's the only way to go! He also has a car payment, so I know our per month price would be high. Especially because he drives a lot and had to buy tires last year. Ugh.

Flavia @ Estilo Home January 20, 2010 at 10:46 AM  

Replying a little late, but wanted to comment because, although I have a monthy budget, I hadn't stopped to truly think about what my transportation costs were until this post. I'm shocked - $700 a month!! That is because it's about $300/mo for car payment, plus another $100 or so between insurance and gas...but I also take the metro to work (which I have to drive to and park) which is another $300. Ouch!

spark! (Ada-Marie) January 20, 2010 at 12:46 PM  

I love these posts! You answer questions that I think about all the time, but never take the time to calculate. Thanks!

LizzieBeth January 21, 2010 at 11:06 AM  

Oh my god... my car is the LEAST thrifties thing I own. I am rockin' a 2000 Jeep Cherokee. Unfortunaly I still owe on it - $181.71 a month and previous accidents make me an "at risk driver" to the tune of $191 A MONTH for insurance. GOod news is I will finish paying the car off in July and in August all of my accidents will be erased from my record.
But that does not change the fact that I spend about $350 in gas a month. Stupid SUV.


chacha January 26, 2010 at 12:55 PM  

Your car insurance is high! We're paying a little less than that (around $630 per 6 mos) for two cars and two drivers, one car is brand new, too. But our registration is higher ($125 for mine, and $180 for the new car).

We USED to have no car payments. And I planned on having no car payments again within a year after buying the car, but with my husband's extended unemployment means continuing to pay the minimum payment on the 5 year loan. Booo. As soon as he gets a job that loan is going down.

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog January 26, 2010 at 1:01 PM  

@chacha~ I know, it really is compared to the costs of everyone above! One more thing to add about my insurance (other than the new car and previous wreck), I live in a city in Texas. Sadly, this fact alone causes the premiums to skyrocket. Nate said that after moving from Ohio to Texas (in high school), his family's car insurance QUADRUPLED!

Anonymous,  January 27, 2011 at 6:35 AM  

Really need information from expert in auto insurane. I do know several people who have submitted their personal info into one of the numerous "online car insurance quotes" and after this they've got solicitors all over them, e-mails, on their phone, junk postal mail and even one case of Social Security Identity theft. Therefore my question for you is: Are these online auto insurance quotes really safe? Doesn't it make sense to remain with a local car insurance agent that you can do business with either over the telephone or perhaps person.

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