girlnextdoor

financial discussions with the girl next door

My Car Broke Down (Again)! November 6, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlnextdoorfinance @ 9:46 am

I decided to move to the new apartment, and wow, am I glad I did!

On NetworthIQ, one of the comments I received asked what would happen if I need a car repair or other unexpected expense if I move into the more expensive apartment close to campus. Would I have trouble coming up with money for those sorts of things due to spending more each month on bills? My answer was that if I move into the apartment and my car breaks down, I wouldn’t have to get it repaired if I didn’t want to – I would be able to walk to work and school, and the university has a “shopping shuttle” that runs a few nights a week so that students who live on campus without a vehicle can go to WalMart, the mall, Barnes & Noble, etc., and I could take that shuttle as needed.

Last Friday I decided to return to Missouri for an overnight trip to visit my family. As soon as I got to town, my car broke down! I was unable to get it repaired on Saturday (most places are closed on the weekend, or were already booked solid) so I got a rental car for this week. I was planning to try to move into the apartment today (Friday), but was able to switch my move-in day to Tuesday. I have decided not to get my car repaired. We suspect it needs a new fuel pump, which will cost $400-$600 (I called around for some estimates). Since I haven’t actually had it looked at, I’m not sure that it would be that much. However, I don’t want to spend the money on it even if it’s only $200-300. I’ve spent so much money on my car this year, it’s just not worth it to keep spending more money – especially since I now live within walking distance of everywhere I need to be on a daily basis.

As of right now, I’m keeping my car insurance for when I need to get rental cars. I know that I will need rental cars at least a couple of times to go to Nashville to work at Titans games, and if I want to go home for a weekend I’ll have to rent a car. The weekend rate to rent a car is about $50, or the daily rate is $20-25 with unlimited miles. If you don’t have insurance, you have to purchase insurance through the rental car company. Since my full-coverage insurance is $38.50 per month (and I can now easily drop that to liability only, which will be much cheaper), I think it will be worth it to keep my insurance. After the new year starts, I will re-evaluate since I will likely be doing much less traveling.

All that being said, I have savings that would cover the cost of getting my car repaired, should I decide I can’t live without a vehicle any longer. However, I have been watching my savings dwindle steadily since starting graduate school, and it is NOT fun! My current incomes (from my graduate assistantship and the bartending jobs) cover my expenses, but paying nearly $5,000 for the study abroad in Australia and New Zealand in January is taking a big chunk of my money! I’m also trying to save some extra money for spending while on the trip, and I have some other large-ish expenses coming up too (in particular, Ph.D. applications). So I think it will be much better for now to save the money for other potential expenses rather than spending it on car repairs when it isn’t even necessary that I have a car.

Thoughts? Comments? What would you do?

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5 Responses to “My Car Broke Down (Again)!”

  1. If the car is not necessary (like traveling 3 hours just to get somewhere and 3 hours back when you could cut it down to half an hour each way), then just save the cash and do without

    I’d keep the insurance for the car rental though. Wish I had that. I have bare bones, $300/year coverage which doesn’t cover much except personal liability :P

  2. KarinsBuckaroo Says:

    If you can get by without a car, do it. And stick to bring your lunch with you everyday to work/school, do it. Not having a car will help you save money for when you study abroad, plus you won’t have to wory about it while you are gone.

  3. girlnextdoorfinance Says:

    @FB: I’ve been planning on moving to a major city next summer (not sure which one yet) and getting rid of the car at that point, so really it breaking down just speeds up the process, I think! I’m actually really excited about not having it anymore. (:

    @KarinsBuckaroo: Will do! Since I now live a 5 minute walk from work and school, even if I don’t feel like packing a lunch in the morning I can easily run home and get something just as quickly as I could go out to eat.

  4. Bradd Says:

    Sounds like a great decision. Doing without a car is probably the biggest financial savings you can make right now. Those things are huge money sinks. It’s easily a $2000/yr hit on the budget. My first car (high school) was $200 and had it for 1 year. My second was $2000 and lasted 2 yrs. My 3rd was $10000 and lasted 10 yrs. I’m hoping my recent car purchase for $15000 lasts 15 yrs.

  5. KarinsBuckaroo Says:

    As to moving to a big city, look into using CityShare (nonprofit in SF Bay Area) or ZipCars (for profit in many US cities) for those few times a month you need a car. The rental is buy the hour and the cost includes gas & insurance.

    Another thought is your insurance may get reduced if you are not commuting in it (which you aren’t if its parked broken).


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