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Saving Transportation Costs

Most of us think of the cost of transportation as the monthly payment on our car, perhaps with gasoline prices factored in. But when you add insurance, maintenance, registration fees, taxes, and depreciation (that is, having to buy a new car when your current one collapses into repair hell), you may actually be spending thousands of dollars a year on personal mobility.

If you’re curious about how much you’re actually spending on personal transportation, the website Nerdwallet provides a tool that helps estimate those costs. On average, it estimates that if you drive 15,000 miles a year, your average ownership costs may come to about $8,500 a year.

Is there any way to bring down these costs? A recent financial blog post suggests that you can save in a number of ways by buying a used car instead of a new one. The savings start with the sticker price. Edmunds, the car pricing service, estimates that the average total cost of a new compact SUV is $33,682, while the average total cost of a used compact SUV three to four years old is $24,966. That difference of $8,716 should be added to the likelihood that you’ll be paying less for insurance coverage and lower vehicle taxation. Choosing a used car that is easy on gas, like a hybrid, and a car that the Consumer Reports website deems to be reliably free of defects and costly repairs, can lower your transportation costs still further.

The blog even questions whether people need to be two-car families. Most of the time, only one person is traveling, and if the other needs to run to the grocery store while the car is out of the garage, that person can simply use the services of Lyft or Uber—and pay a few dollars per trip, instead of thousands to have a car waiting in the garage for their convenience.

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