Life in Transition

Navigating Personal Finances During Life Transitions

Archive for the tag “transportation”

Five Necessities I Hate Paying For

  1. Oil Changes and Car Maintenance: I hate spending extra money to keep something running.  I know it’s what you’re suppose to do, but I still don’t like paying for that kind of stuff.
  2. Health Insurance: It’s expensive, and from my experience, everytime I try to file a claim, the insurance company tries to find a reason to deny it, which means I spend over 45 minutes on hold with their customer service.  Yet, it would be foolish to go without it.
  3. Parking pass: I know that what I’m paying right now for downtown parking at my apartment is a bargin, but since I grew up in small towns, I’m not used to paying for parking.  Yes, I could park for free on the street four blocks away, but the neighborhood four blocks away is ranked the 14th most dangerous neighborhood in the US by  I don’t plan on walking there by myself at night, so the better alternative is to shell out money for a parking pass.
  4. Gas: Yes, I listed another car-related item. For some reason, I always underestimate how much it would cost to fill up a tank.
  5. Tuition: This isn’t really a necessity, unless your career goals requires a degree. I don’t really mind tuition itself, but why does it have to be so expensive?

What are some necessities you hate paying for?

Saving Money with a Scooter

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

The verdict
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.

Transitions and Finances

As you all may know, my wedding is a week away, which means a lot of changes are going to happen and effect my finances.

Transition #1: Housing
My fiance was an Resident Assistant (RA) at a freshmen dorm for two years when he was an undergraduate student. This year, a spot opened up at the student housing complex at the health science campus, and he got the job.   He’s lived in an apartment for the last two years, and I have lived in one for the last three.   It’s definitely a little odd going back to dorm life, but at least housing will be free.  We  won’t have to worry about rent, utilities, Internet, or cable for at least a year.  Rates for a one-bedroom apartment in the area  starts at $500/month, and when we throw in utilities and internet, I’d estimate our housing costs would run $575/month.  So, we’re looking at saving approximately $7000/year.  

Obviously, our one-bedroom dorm suite isn’t truly free.  As an RA, my fiance will have have a set number of on-call hours a week, which means he cannot leave the building during set hours.  He’ll also have countless meetings and training sessions and a mountain of paperwork.  Since he’ll be studying a lot for his classes, the on-call hours shouldn’t be a problem.  Those will become his designated study times. When he was an RA at a freshman dorm, most of his on-call hours were spent mediating conflicts, busting people for drugs or underage drinking, and calling hall meetings because a guy thought drawing obscene pictures on the walls would be funny.  Most of the residents at our new dorm will be Ph.D students and postdocs, so hopefully we won’t run into the same kind of problems.

Transition #2: Transportation
Since we will be living less than a block away from where I currently work and my fiance goes to school, having two cars does not make sense.  We decided to keep his car, since it gets a lot better gas mileage.   We plan on loaning my car to my younger sister, who would be responsible for insurance, maintenance, and registration fee.  We thought about selling one of the cars, but since his Honda has over 300,000 miles on it, we want to have a back-up car.  My sister understands that I’m taking my car back as soon as the Honda  stops working.  Becoming a one car family will at least save us $1000/year when you take into account the maintenance,  registration fee, parking pass, and extra gas.  It will take more time to coordinate errands and who needs the car when, but I think the hassle is worth the money saved.

Transition #3: Two people, One salary
My fiance has been living off of his savings for the last year, and won’t have income for another three years  unless you count free housing as income (I’ll find out soon enough if the IRS does).  It’s pretty much impossible for dental students to find time for a part-time job, so we will be living off of my income for the next few years.  I currently have a modest income, but I still able to save a lot of money when I was just supporting myself.   I’m also planning on going back to school part-time, which means I might not work as many hours as I do now.  I used to feel nervous about supporting two on a small income, so when my fiance got the position a huge burden lifted from shoulders and I felt a lot better about going back to school.  It’ll still be a challenge to adjust to the bigger expenses.  For example, I only spend $50-$70 a month on groceries, but my fiance spends at least $150/month.

Post Navigation