Broke-Ass Mom, Footloose and Car-free

Getting rid of your car is one of the most liberating things a Broke-Ass Mom can do. It may not be possible in all cities, towns, countries, etc, but if you can free your mind a little, you’ll be sure to free up your wallet.

According to an annual study conducted by AAA, the average person with a mid-size sedan is spending $8k a year on their car. This study assumes you own your car and have no monthly payments. (Quite an assumption for a Broke-Ass Mom, don’t you think?)

Average Midsize Sedan @ 15,000 miles/year:

Gas = $1,750
Maintenance = $663
Tires = $137
Insurance = $1,004
License, Registration, and Taxes = $583
Depreciation = $3,451
Finance Charge = + $803
Grand Total = $8,436

Imagine what you could do with an extra $8k a year. You could finally get a haircut, hire a babysitter to find your sanity and reclaim your adulthood, replace that pair of jeans that with holes and have stretched to the point that they’re constantly falling off your ass, or simply buy yourself a new book that has absolutely nothing to do with raising children, or hell — all of the above?

Now for the hard part, how to still live your life without a car? You really only need three or possibly four things: a pair of comfy shoes, a smaller set of wheels that doesn’t guzzle gas, a backpack, and access to mass transportation (This one is optional depending on your situation). Out of this list, the smaller set of wheels is the most important and it’s what will save your life when used to its full potential.

Basically you still need something with at least two wheels to help you carry your baby and anything you may pick up during your day. You could break out that old pair of roller skates from your teenage years, but then you’re running the risk of crushing your baby’s head. Buying a used bicycle is a great option, if your child is old enough, you have plenty of bike lanes, and you’re in good shape. A Vespa would be totally awesome, and you would be a super cool mom, but unfortunately we should forgo the cool factor for the safety of our children. Last but certainly not least, is a good, strong, and durable, (of course, used) stroller.

As you are well aware, there are a zillion strollers out there, but not all are made to be the workhorse we need. What we’re looking for is a stroller that can handle the most amount of weight. Although there are other strollers that can handle quite a bit of weight (In Step, Baby Jogger, Jeep Jogger, etc), the BOB stroller can handle up to 70lbs and is easily found used on Craigslist. It has also been tested to hold at least two gallons of milk, 10 bottles of “Two Buck Chuck”, and a snoring, drooling baby. Instead of merely using the basket underneath to carry things, attach a few carabiners with some Velcro to the handlebars. Then you can hang about three bags off the sides of your stroller, plus two gallons of milk underneath, your baby, and whatever fits in your new backpack. Awesome! Let’s see what our shoes, stroller, backpack, and carabiners costs us.

Used BOB stroller = $200
Nice backpack from REI = $30
3 Carabiners = $24
*Comfy shoes = +$100
Grand Total = $454

*You need something with some support. It could be as simple as a pair of sneakers, or something fancier like Keens, Merrells, Timberlands, etc.

Absolute worse case scenario, you need to rent a car once a week for two hours through something like Zipcar, that’s only $780 per year. Then the most amount of money you’ll be spending a year including the products mentioned above is $1,234 (In three years’ time, that’s $20,000 you’ve saved and you can now afford at least one year of pre-school). And hey, if you get ambitious, the BOB is not only the horse that will safely get you across the desert, but it also doubles as a jogging stroller, and guess what, jogging is FREE!

Photo by IStockPhoto.com Laoshi

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About the author

Jennifer White - Mommy No Bucks

Jennifer has been a bit of a nomad having lived in seven different cities. Her life as a gypsy has settled down for the moment in San Francisco with her husband and two-year old son. Recently, she decided to throw caution to the wind, quit her job as an analyst to be a full-time mom while chasing her dreams (and the Pulitzer Prize). When she's not writing, she's aspiring to be a luddite (although blogging isn't helping), knitting the occasional hat, or running in the park with her son and his secondhand compost truck in tow.
  • Broke-ass soon-to-be mom

    Love your column! As a broke-ass, soon-to-be mom (freelance writer), i am terrified and your column makes me feel like I can do it and am not alone.

  • http://www.my-watercooler.com Jennifer White – Mommy No Bucks

    Well, if you’re making it as a freelance writer, then you’re giving me hope too! Trust me, if I can be a mom, anyone can…..