I Sold My Car…Now What? – Living Without a Car

I’ve known since the day I bought my car that it probably wasn’t the best of ideas. It was older, I had no one with me when I bought it, and had so many questions in the back of my mind. I tried my hardest to do the right thing and shop around, etc. but after all was said and done, I got impatient and bought the damn thing.

That was 2.5 years ago, and ever since that day, I’ve been too stubborn to admit that I had made a mistake when I signed the papers. living without a car

What A Piece…

I’ve been having car trouble for a while now. One day my car overheated on the highway and needed to be towed to a repair shop. Apparently, it needed a new radiator, hoses, etc. – $600. Then it overheated again, but not as bad. This time it needed a new water pump and timing belt – $650.

Two days after getting that fixed, I was driving down the road and it started shaking violently while I was driving.

That moment in time was it for me.

I had been thinking about getting rid of my car for a while now but was too scared to pull the trigger.

Now was the time. Life was telling me that this piece of crap was coming to the end of it’s life, and it was okay to get rid of it.

Instead of gambling with the final cost of labor being anywhere between $850 and $2,000, I decided to sell it and be done with the situation.

Show Me the Digits

Being a personal finance lover, I just had to calculate the numbers and see what I could be saving.

Here is what I was spending each month on my car:

$110 a month in car insurance

$45 in parking at work

$100 in gas

$192 in car payments

$150 a month in repair/maintenance bills

$597 Total!

Then subtract $130 for the monthly train pass I will now be buying.

Without a car, I will be saving $467 a month! (I wish I had done that calculation earlier!) 

This definitely helped me make the decision to sell it. That was a ton of money I could be saving or putting towards my debt!

It also meant that 3 payments will no longer be on my list of bills 🙂

Could I have gotten it fixed and sold it for more? Probably. But that would have meant me having to actually deal with waiting until it was fixed, and finding a buyer who wanted a hail-damaged car (yes, this car was a nightmare for me) – all the while paying the bills for it each month.

I’m not a fan of unpredictability in my ripe old age of 27. I was not going to sit there and play the waiting game.

So, I took the $1,000 I had in my emergency savings, coupled with the money I had in my “car insurance” fund (which I will no longer need) and paid off my car. I was then able to sell it to the mechanic (this still seems shady to me, but it was a family friend and I was desperate) and get a bit of money back. I sold it for slightly more than I owed on it and that was that.

It’s Official

I am now officially a loyal public transportation-taker.

Will it take me longer to get home from work? Yes. But I’m okay with that. Now I can actually get work done on the train – or read books on my commute home – I love being a nerd! 🙂

Do I sort of feel like I’m also helping the environment? I do.

I’m also reducing my risk of getting in a car crash or sliding off the road in bad weather.

Yes, train accidents happen, I get it. But I car crashes happen way more often so I’m taking my chances.

How does this change my overall plan?

Well, I paid off my car in the process because I had to in order to get the title to sell it. That means I will have one less item on my debt report.

I will also (in theory) have an extra $467 a month to build back up my savings account, and set some more money aside just in case I do end up loathing the train life a few months down the road. Once that is done, I can really start hammering away at my debt.

I’m actually really excited about this change (if you couldn’t tell). I have finally found an excuse to ditch that beater and be freed of car payments and repair bills. WOOHOO!

“Wait, what?! You have no car??”

I expect to be hearing a lot of this during my “transition time.”

I’ve already heard it quite a bit and haven’t even told that many people.

“What if you need to go somewhere?” Well, there’s the train, the bus, the subway, rental cars, zip car, and bicycles. I think I’m good. If all else fails, I’ll call you to come and get me! 🙂

“Don’t you feel naked?” I’ll be honest, I do have a few weird feelings I’ll have to get over. It’s like breaking any habit. Not having that place where you can go and just ride around alone will be different.

“I could never get rid of my car!” That’s ultimately your decision, but I’m pretty sure if you live in the city like I do, there’s a very strong likelihood that – yes, you could do it.

Why I’m Excited

  • I won’t be spending almost $600 a month on a vehicle. That’s still outrageous to me…anyone else?
  • I’ll meet more people and hopefully make some connections
  • I will have a lot less stress with not having to deal with car breakdowns, flat tires, getting towed, etc.
  • I’ll be forced to go outside and get some walking done – any extra exercise helps when you’re a cubicle dweller!
  • I like to think I’m breaking a longstanding chain of reliance on the major auto manufacturers and oil companies (Hopefully my uncle, who works for Chevron, doesn’t read this!)
  • I’ll get so much more work done! Meaning I can help you guys more often!
  • I’ll be opening myself up to new experiences
  • Lastly, I’m helping the environment just a little bit 🙂

After all is said and done, I call this the $8,600 learning curve of life. I will definitely start examining the rest of my life, and asking myself more often “are you too proud to give it up?” Because in this case, I totally was.

Have you ever thought about selling your car? Are there things I need to know about this journey? I’d love some advice!

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Chenell

I am Chenell Tull and so far, I've had a pretty rough time with my student loan debt. Recently, I've figured out a more productive "get out of debt" plan and the goal is to pay off over $60k in just 36 months. If you want to learn more, subscribe to the mailing list and get FREE updates on my successes and failures on this journey out of debt. 

  • You are really taking the plunge on this one! I will be interested in how your experience is. You focus on a lot of the positives, don’t forget about some of the negatives: Possibly not getting a seat if it’s crowded, making it on the public transportation time schedule, etc. Overall, I hope you have a great experience and can continue with it!

    I don’t think that it would work for us as both my wife and I each commute 25 miles each way to our work. My wife did just change jobs and now we are basically going the same way to work, but we haven’t been able to get it to work for us to commute together with one vehicle due to too many variables in our schedules.

    Thanks for sharing, hopefully it will encourage others to look at alternative options as well!

    • Haha, yes! There are going to be negatives, I am well aware, but I’m trying not to focus on them so they don’t come true 🙂 When the train is running two hours late, I will do my best to remember how many times I didn’t have to sit in traffic on the way to/from work. And that $400 kicker each month will get my negative thoughts to disappear REAL QUICK. 🙂

  • Yay I’m so glad to hear this! I don’t have a car either, so I know what it’s like. I don’t want a car because it’s a huge money-suck as well being bad for the environment. Sure, it gets difficult sometimes, but it’s also easy to get used to. People think I’m so weird for not having a car, but honestly, I think it’s weird that owning a car is like the equivalent of owning a microwave here (lol). I think it’s great that you finally sold your problematic car. You’ll definitely be able to make a better choice when it’s time for you to buy another car 🙂

    • Thanks, Anum! I love the microwave analogy, it’s so true! I’m appreciating my new experiences so far with public transportation and forcing me to move around a lot more 🙂 How long have you been without a car?

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  • I think that was a courageous and bold decision you made to sell the car. It is amazing how much vehicles cost us. I will be curious to see an update perhaps six months from now on your experience.

    We have been a one-car family off and on for years. I wrote a post about that if any wants to see that experience. For us, it was not too bad since I work from home and my wife and I would coordinate the use of the car.

    I would recommend any interested in go without a car to read this book by Chris Balish: How to Live Well without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life Paperback.

    Take care!

    • Thanks, Bryan. It was difficult at first thinking about how much of a change it would be. I’ve been driving for over 10 years and have always had a car. It’s a little strange sometimes, I’ll be honest, but I live in a city that is very accessible via public transportation….except when the Pope comes to visit next month, but that’s another story 🙂

      I’m definitely going to have to check out that book, thanks for the recommendation! And I will plan to write an update post a few months from now about living without a car!

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