My husband and I are always trying to find ways to cut costs, especially in the area of transportation. We’ve already cut back to one vehicle since we both live in walking distance to school (for my husband) and work (for me). The one car we have is old and has a ton of miles on it–over 310,000–so it’s not very dependable. The car doesn’t like short five mile trips in the city (it likes to shut off at when it’s in reverse), which is what most of our driving consists of, but it usually does fine on the highway. Also, the car gets terrible gas mileage in the city. Our solution? Getting a scooter.
Note: I know that getting bikes is a great option in a lot of areas, but my city is not biker friendly. Bike lanes are limited and bike racks are hard to find, even in the downtown area. Several of my friends had been in biking accidents. One got hit by a truck and another by a car. A third friend passed out because of the heat and dehydration while biking to work. Someone found him laying on the side of the street and took him to the nearest hospital. All three ended up in the emergency room with concussions, which is an expense I would like to avoid.
Scooters are extremely popular mode of transportation in other countries, and they seem to be gaining some popularity here, or at least among my husband’s dental school classmates. An under-50 cc scooter gets between 75-100 miles per gallon, and does not require an extra license, tag, or registration in Kentucky (check the requirements/laws in your own state). In other words, there are no extra costs other than gas and maintenance. We should not need to spend too much money on maintenance since one of my husband’s good friends fixes motorcycles and scooters as a hobby and refurbished used ones for side income.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Before deciding on making a large purchase, I like weighing the pros and cons, to make sure not we’re not making an impulse decision or just trying to keep up with the Joneses (which in this case would be my husband’s dental school class).
Pros to getting a scooter
- They get great gas mileage, between 75-100 miles per gallon, so more eco-friendly than a car
- They are great for running errands that don’t require the storage space of a car
- A used scooter costs is fairly affordable typically costing less than $1000 (at least in this area)
- No tag, license, or registration required if the engine is less than 50 cc, so no extra “taxes” like a car
- Much easier to find parking in the city, can avoid paying for parking
Cons to getting a scooter
- They cannot transport a lot of things
- If the engine is under 50 cc you cannot ride it on the highway
- Not much protection from bad weather, and it’s pretty much impossible to ride in the snow and ice.
- Getting into an accident on a scooter is a scary thought
- Seems like it would be easier to steal than a car
We decided to buy a used scooter. In regards to the cons list, I’m not too worried about the first two listed. We can use our car if we need to transport things, and each week the only trip that would require a car is going to the grocery. Also, I don’t mind that we can’t ride the scooter on the highway. I don’t know how I feel about cars zipping past me at 70+ mph. The only major concerns I would have is that we can’t use the scooter for about three months out of the year because of snow, ice, and rain, that it doesn’t seem as safe as driving a car, and that it seems easy to steal. I think that making safety a priority should lower the risk of theft or getting into an accident.
Saving money on transportation is a huge priority for us. Getting a scooter would cut our gas expenditures by one-half or even two thirds. Depending on how much gas prices are and judging by our previous driving habits, it would take between a year and a half to two years to break even, which is much faster than the estimates of break even points for hydrid cars.
Paying for the Scooter
Once we decided that getting a scooter wasn’t a bad idea, we needed to figure out how to pay for it. Were we going to start a scooter fund and contribute each month or were we going to use the extra money from cash wedding gifts or my husband’s tax refund? We decided to use my husband’s unexpected tax refund to purchase the scooter. He didn’t send the tax refund before we got married and did not have any plans on how he was going to use the money. Plus, he wanted a scooter more than I did and would probably use it more often. So, we did not need to take any money out of savings or our regular budget to purchase the scooter.
So far, I think it has been a good purchase. We’ve only had to take our car out once or twice a week, and it’s a good feeling when you spend about $2 to fill up the scooter’s tank.