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Have you given up the car?

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Have you given up the car?

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Old 11-27-18, 07:38 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
One of his salient points is that we underestimate the marginal cost of driving a mile. He says we should consider it to be 50 cents or so, even though fuel costs are much lower than that.
That's a very good point, and I would agree. There's probably also a deterioration cost of some sort from having my car just sit unused for long periods. I have no idea how to quantify that cost. Simply having a car sitting there unused and available consumes a significant amount of wealth.
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Old 11-27-18, 08:53 AM
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@acidfast7 , I don't remember the amount, and it keeps changing, but I'm pretty sure it's over 50 cents a mile. It's easy to see that as too high for short trips because the purchase cost is supposed to be built in, so we could expect the marginal cost of one trip to be lower than 50 cents a mile. MMM urges us to think of each mile as costing 50 cents.

@JonathanGennick , I think you're heading in the wrong direction. I'm not sure I see how you lose money by your car sitting idly in the driveway, and if you think about it too much, you could justify taking trips by car that you could take by other modes.
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Old 11-27-18, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Thank goodness this is the commuting section, not the living car free section where things get to get acrimonious.
and ridiculous.

when i first joined BF 8 years ago i was a car-free bachelor and posted stuff in the LCF sub-forum, but i quickly learned it was a land of fanatical lunatics.


"oh, you took an airplane to london!?! hypocrite! don't you know that airplanes are just cars with wings?

if i wanted to go to london, i would ride my bike to halifax towing a kayak on my cargo trailer and then paddle across the north atlantic.

I'm a REAL car-free person."

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Old 11-27-18, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
@acidfast7 , I don't remember the amount, and it keeps changing, but I'm pretty sure it's over 50 cents a mile. It's easy to see that as too high for short trips because the purchase cost is supposed to be built in, so we could expect the marginal cost of one trip to be lower than 50 cents a mile. MMM urges us to think of each mile as costing 50 cents.

@JonathanGennick , I think you're heading in the wrong direction. I'm not sure I see how you lose money by your car sitting idly in the driveway, and if you think about it too much, you could justify taking trips by car that you could take by other modes.
Some amount of that 50 cents per mile is money to cover purchase cost and deterioration. A big chunk of that 50 cents per mile is money that is prepaid in advance by the mere act of purchasing a car and keeping it maintained. A car is insidious in that it costs a lot of money even to leave it sit unused. So at some point, yes, I might as well drive the thing. MMM is correct about that 50 cents per mile, and my view is that, sadly, I've prepaid perhaps 30 cents per mile in advance. I can't save the entire 50 cents by not driving the vehicle.
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Old 11-27-18, 09:23 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
I used to read MMM blog religiously. It was one of the inspirations for riding my bike instead of driving. Good stuff. He has a lot of valuable advice to offer, finance aside, like diet and exercise and stuff.
Yup, I love MMM. He was a big inspiration for me to buy a (smaller) house closer to work and start bike-commuting. Previously I was 25mi away and when I got back into cycling would drive to work with the bike, ride home (2hr), ride back the next morning (2hr) and drive home. At most once a month. I.e. hardly ever. Now I can ride the 11mi round-trip every day, unless I happen to need the car for other errands (usually school pickups)

We're starting my kid on driver's ed, and an additional requirement I'm imposing is to read a pile of MMM blog posts about bikes vs cars.

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Old 11-27-18, 09:26 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
@JonathanGennick , I think you're heading in the wrong direction. I'm not sure I see how you lose money by your car sitting idly in the driveway, and if you think about it too much, you could justify taking trips by car that you could take by other modes.
Well there's at least the cost of insurance and registration, plus if it really sits there for VERY long periods (many months), apparently it's bad for the battery, the tires get flat spots, the gas can go bad (in CA with our additives) and/or the gas tank can rust, etc, etc.
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Old 11-27-18, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Well there's at least the cost of insurance and registration, plus if it really sits there for VERY long periods (many months), apparently it's bad for the battery, the tires get flat spots, the gas can go bad (in CA with our additives) and/or the gas tank can rust, etc, etc.
And brakes can freeze up. It's common a few times per winter for my drum brakes to freeze. Because I do in fact let the car sit idle sometimes for days and weeks at a time. Once or twice I've had brake damage from doing so that I've to pay to have repaired.

Just think about depreciation. There's a big hit when you drive the car out of the dealer lot, right? That depreciation continues tick-tock like each day that one owns the car, whether driven or not.

I'm not disagreeing with the 50 cents per mile. That is in fact a good way to think about the costs. I do agree w/that.
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Old 11-27-18, 09:45 AM
  #33  
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I like to think of it not only as cost per mile, but also per person. So transporting a whole family of 5 makes it 5 times more reasonable/worthwhile to use a car than driving alone.
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Old 11-27-18, 09:53 AM
  #34  
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GSA figures it's currently $0.545 per mile with depreciation, etc. added in. Only 18 cents per mile for oil and gas, apparently:
https://www.gsa.gov/travel/plan-book...ursement-rates
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Old 11-27-18, 09:57 AM
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If you buy used cars cheap, depreciation is a lot less. And MMM would probably argue it's the only sensible way to buy cars. And I don't fully agree, but I do mostly.
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Old 11-27-18, 10:07 AM
  #36  
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MMM is definitely against buying cars new, and also against buying them big

New Cars and Auto Financing: Stupid, or Sensible?
Top 10 Cars for Smart People
What does your work truck say about you?

Now don’t get me wrong – not every work truck is a money-burning rolling clown circus with a 24/7 fireworks show shooting out of its roof telling the world how dumb you are. Only about 99% of them.

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Old 11-27-18, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
I like to think of it not only as cost per mile, but also per person. So transporting a whole family of 5 makes it 5 times more reasonable/worthwhile to use a car than driving alone.
for sure. and that's what our lone car primarily is: the family hauler.

my wife does use it from time to time to do site visits for her job, but she works from home 80% of the time. our car sits on its parking pad out back most days. it does also help with getting the kiddos over to daycare in inclement weather. their day-care is only a 1/2 mile away so my wife usually just walks the kids over there most days, but if it's pouring rain or 3 degrees out, the car is a nice luxury to have available.

one of our car's main duties is transporting us up to the western burbs of milwaukee where my wife's parents and her two sisters and their families all live. we drive up there not quite once a month, maybe 10x per year. it's 200 miles round-trip, so $100 per visit using that $0.50/mile figure, but that's the total for all 4 of us. if we took the train up there instead, that would be $160 ($40 per round-trip ticket on amtrak). and amtrak doesn't do door-to-door, we'd still need to get from our home down to union station in downtown chicago, and then from the amtrak station in downtown milwaukee out to my in-law's house out in the burbs, which would add cost, time, and considerable hassle to the journey.

sometimes cars just make the most sense for all of the reasons.

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Old 11-27-18, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
My wife and I went car-free Sept 2017. We’ve used a combination of Lyft/Uber/borrowing friends’ cars since then. The toughest part has been my daily commute, 12 miles each way. My wife works 1/2 mile from home and daughter rides the bus to middle school. Shopping/entertainment can all be done within 2 miles of home. We live in the suburbs and I commute through the countryside to a small town. I have flexibility with my employer that allows me to work remotely from home with my work laptop when road conditions are hazardous (snow/ice) but it takes some planning and carrying the laptop back and forth.
We are looking into getting an old beater station wagon or small pickup. Healthcare accessibility and zero cycling infrastructure are the primary driving force behind this, pardon the pun. If we lived and both worked downtown, we’d probably be satisfied to stay car-free, and that still remains the long term goal. I personally am finished with using a car for commuting unless/until my body or living situation demand otherwise.
I agree with others about avoiding the LCF sub-forum. I suspect that most of the “car-free” posters there probably aren’t really car-free, and have my doubts about how many of them even ride actual bicycles. The longer I’ve been car-free, the stronger my suspicions/doubts.
In defense of the LCF sub, actually living car-free - or maybe more accurately becoming a car-free convert - outside of maybe highly urban areas, I think can become a social issue as well. It can be challenging to arrange/attend social gatherings that were previously made possible by the car. Not to mention that forming new relationships can also be complicated living without a car in a car-centric place. Some folks seem to dislike cyclists so much that just the knowledge that someone is "one of the someones" on a bike "getting in the way of traffic" is off-putting to them. Spending much time commuting by bike in areas without bike-specific infrastructure and hostile motorists can change a person's outlook on life. Car-free folks who commute exclusively by bike - it requires a different frame of mind than if the car is sitting in the garage waiting until one decides for whatever reason not to ride a bike that day. I don't think they (we?) are a large group of people, but it IS tough sometimes. You just can't let the bastards get you down. (Illegitimi non carborundum?) But it seems to me like there's a lot of rage happening in that sub, and rage doesn't mix well with my brain so I tend to stay away. Advocacy and Safety, sort of to the same effect.

And yes, I'm defending the LCF sub to myself.
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Old 11-27-18, 12:11 PM
  #39  
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And also also, we didn't go car-free until we had one kid left living at home and she was 12. When there were 5 of us, we used a minivan and drove everywhere. We wouldn't have gone car free had we had more kids at home still and/or they were younger. Not in this area.
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Old 11-27-18, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
You just can't let the bastards get you down. (Illegitimi non carborundum?)
I don't know much about Latin, but that's cute. My first guess would have been something like "carbon's not real" -- the flip side of Steel is Real
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Old 11-27-18, 12:50 PM
  #41  
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I first heard of "car free" and "one car family" with the Internet and reading people from US texts.

In my country, having one car per family was the norm, until relatively recently. Even now, having even one car is a big cost and very few people have more than one in the family.

Apart from the 300$ per month average pay, good public transport and much smaller distances play a big role. I find people comparing Amsterdam to the US to be a poor example for that reason. In my city, you can WALK anywhere worth going (cinema, swimming pool, park, local mountain, any school/university, library, shopping mall etc) in under 30 minutes from the city center. 45 minutes to walk end-to-end (hour tops, for the suburbs). While a friend from the US drives over 1 hour to work - one way.

Setting "car free" as a goal is fine if it makes you happy - not much reason for it otherwise, it boils down to needs, habits and budget.

Having a car costs money. It gets ruined from sitting idly, it gets ruined from time (seals, tyres, bodywork), price decreases with age etc. Plus yearly insurance, registration etc.
And it does provide lots of freedom and mobility, with minimal downsides if used wisely and rationally.

Since I had stopped running a computer business, I had realised that for the amount of 4 wheel transport I need yearly, using a cab is a lot cheaper. That was my main reason for ditching the car. Never thought of myself as a "car free person". Just like I don't consider myself a "recumbent free person" for riding a bicycle only.

On the other hand, if I lived in some parts of the US, at least from what I've heard, being without a car would be a challenge and take lots of planning, sacrifice etc. I'd have to have some sort of agenda for doing it - either being happy for more excercise, less carbon emmission or whatever drives people to go through a lot of hassle, without being pushed by lack of money, or some other "sensible" reason.
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Old 11-27-18, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
Apart from the 300$ per month average pay...
!!! How is that enough for housing and food, let alone a car?!
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Old 11-27-18, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
!!! How is that enough for housing and food, let alone a car?!
My man, have you never been to Eastern Europe or Asia? People make stuff last and stuff is built to last.

My other half is from Hungary, which is becoming expensive of late but still quite affordable.

England, now that's unaffordable.
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Old 11-27-18, 01:42 PM
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I've never been to Asia; I have been to Budapest and Moscow, but not long enough to get a meaningful understanding of the local economy.

Food is not built to last, and it still need to be grown and transported. Although I guess the cost goes down if people are able to rely more on local farmer's markets, eliminating transport and retail middlemen. And less than $300/mo seems super-crazy-cheap for housing
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Old 11-27-18, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
!!! How is that enough for housing and food, let alone a car?!
McDonald's, shopping mall and similar jobs are about 200-300 per month. As well as most factory jobs. School teachers get about 400-500. Programmers are among the best paid - 1000 or so, 2000 for the top ones. Dentists and lawyers - depending on the scrupules, one can earn 2-5 thousands.

Small flat rent is about 150 with all the bills and expenses. Food is about 5 per day if you are sensible. Costs of services are matched, but new cars and clothes cost more than in Germany, for example. However, 2nd hand market of (stolen?) goods and spare parts is blooming, so you can get clothes on the cheap, by a kg, car, bicycle, computer parts etc. Books and software are free - piracy and copyright is something you have to explain to most people - the meaning (people get insulted if you don't share, even if you buy). Avoiding taxes and laws is the "national sport", with a very high corruption rate and bad bureaucracy - doing anything by the book gets you into a Catch 22 situation in most occasions. You can get cheap, 15+ year old cars, paying just for the parts, while repair labour costs are cheap. Most families have one car.

2000 per month gets a very good life (in terms of finances) for a two kids family.

Still, 90% of people live very badly, poorly. Many emigrating for better "standard", even to China.

What helps is strong family ties and it's normal to help each other for free (I do all the "handyman" and computer stuff for example - neighbours, friends...). University costs now about 1000 per year, but good students can still get it for free (top 50 ranked on the "entrance" exams or so). It's normal for people to live with their parents in the country, in the same house, and in the cities, most people stay in their parents flat until 30 or so.

Social life is a lot better than Germany for example though. I'd rather live here with 1000 per month, than anywhere else. If I had to work for average pay, I'd be off to Germany or so.
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Old 11-27-18, 02:14 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Mr Money Mustache, and he writes a lot about the virtue of driving less rather than ceasing to drive. He also points out how useful bicycles are. One of his salient points is that we underestimate the marginal cost of driving a mile. He says we should consider it to be 50 cents or so, even though fuel costs are much lower than that.
Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
I thought the IRS allowed a running cost that involved depreciation of 41 cents / mile, which is almost an honest evaluation.
The marginal (AKA variable) cost of driving a mile should not include the relatively fixed expense of depreciation. Most of the depreciation cost is incurred even if no miles are driven.

Depreciation and financing, the major costs of car ownership, as well as registration and license fees are not affected for the most part by added mileage. Even insurance, another major expense, is not affected much, if at all, by each added mile.

Unless bridge and road tolls or expensive parking fees are incurred with added mileage, (chiefly fuel and prorated wear of tires and added maintenance) the marginal/variable cost of extra mileage is probably way south of 41¢/mile.
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Old 11-27-18, 02:21 PM
  #47  
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Have you given up the car?
Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Thank goodness this is the commuting section, not the living car free section where things get to get acrimonious.

Living car free isn't important for most of us. It's not a measure of virtue, at least not to me
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
for sure. and that's what our lone car primarily is: the family hauler.

my wife does use it from time to time to do site visits for her job, but she works from home 80% of the time...

it does also help with getting the kiddos over to daycare in inclement weather. their day-care is only a 1/2 mile away so my wife usually just walks the kids over there most days, but if it's pouring rain or 3 degrees out, the car is a nice luxury to have available.

one of our car's main duties is transporting us up to the western burbs of milwaukee where my wife's parents and her two sisters and their families all live. …

sometimes cars just make the most sense for all of the reasons
Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
My wife and I went car-free Sept 2017. …I agree with others about avoiding the LCF sub-forum. I suspect that most of the “car-free” posters there probably aren’t really car-free, and have my doubts about how many of them even ride actual bicycles.

The longer I’ve been car-free, the stronger my suspicions/doubts.
Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
And also also, we didn't go car-free until we had one kid left living at home and she was 12. When there were 5 of us, we used a minivan and drove everywhere.

We wouldn't have gone car free had we had more kids at home still and/or they were younger. Not in this area.
There is a single thread on the Regional Discussion Forum, “Metro Boston:Good ride today”, with over 7800 posts, that I have called the de facto Metro Boston Forum.

Similarly it seems that this thread is becoming the de facto “Living Car Light” Forum (in disctinction to the de jure “Living Car Free” Forum). .

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Old 11-27-18, 02:23 PM
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@I-Like-To-Bike , that's the way I think. I don't remember MMM's rationale for telling us to consider the marginal cost to be 50 cents per mile. Maybe he said that we should look at it that way even though it isn't. Thinking about it now, I can envision an argument that says that the more you drive, the sooner you have to replace the car, so miles count towards depreciation. And again, since he advocates buying used cheap cars, depreciation is a smaller fraction of the costs. So is insurance; when your car is paid for, there is not much reason to have insurance beyond liability insurance. You can also get a break on your premium if you don't drive much. A relative of mine has a big pickup truck that he may only use two or three times a year.
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Old 11-27-18, 02:28 PM
  #49  
I-Like-To-Bike
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
and ridiculous.

when i first joined BF 8 years ago i was a car-free bachelor and posted stuff in the LCF sub-forum, but i quickly learned it was a land of fanatical lunatics.


"oh, you took an airplane to london!?! hypocrite! don't you know that airplanes are just cars with wings?

if i wanted to go to london, i would ride my bike to halifax towing a kayak on my cargo trailer and then paddle across the north atlantic.

I'm a REAL car-free person."
The LCF sub-forum is not so much a land of bicycling enthusiasts but rather a land dominated by ideology infused with ascetic proselytizing, motorist/car-culture bashing, and counter-culture moralizing; bicycling is a side show to the political and economic fantasizing/ranting.
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Old 11-27-18, 02:36 PM
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Slaninar
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
The marginal (AKA variable) cost of driving a mile should not include the relatively fixed expense of depreciation. Most of the depreciation cost is incurred even if no miles are driven.

Depreciation and financing, the major costs of car ownership, as well as registration and license fees are not affected for the most part by added mileage. Even insurance, another major expense, is not affected much, if at all, by each added mile.

Unless bridge and road tolls or expensive parking fees are incurred with added mileage, (chiefly fuel and prorated wear of tires and added maintenance) the marginal/variable cost of extra mileage is probably way south of 41¢/mile.
If a car is necessary anyway, then you could deduct the fixed costs, since you'll have them anyway. If you can live without a car, fixed costs should be considered - what can you buy for the cost of yearly insurance and registration vs how much you need a car. Boils down to that.

Also, again, if not having a car is an option, then cost per mile must include the fixed costs IMO. The lower the mileage, the less it makes sense to buy a car. In my example, cost per mile (calculated that way) was higher than paying for a taxi/minivan transport whenever I need to. That is, yearly transport costs were lower.
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