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Car Sharing

Sometimes being a Broke-Ass Mom means giving up a few things for the greater good, and sometimes that greater good is paying rent.  After succumbing to the idea that I am no longer that beer funneling, dance-my-ass-off-til-3am, or sleep-till-noon kind of person anymore, the next hardest thing was figuring out what physical thing I could give up to save a little extra cash.  I could get my hair highlighted less.  Perhaps cancel a few magazine prescriptions. Or maybe I should finally give up something that I spend most of my time circling the block looking for a spot because it’s the 3rd Tuesday of the month.

Back in the day, I owned a beautiful used 1992 Toyota Celica that I paid for with my hard-earned $28,000 a year salary. Sure it may have been an ugly teal green and every day I hopped in it I wished for a cooler color like black, but whatever it was all mine.  My parents didn’t buy it, and I paid off the loan in five short years at $250/month.  Before buying a car, I spent countless hours in bookstores desperately trying to understand “Consumer Reports”.  I spent even more countless hours being ignored at various car dealerships across the beautiful state of New Jersey. I was twenty-three years old and looked like I didn’t have ten cents for gum from the vending machine much less a car.  Finally, after months of searching and being told “No, you can’t test drive that Mitsubishi Eclipse”, I found a female car dealer that I could trust and a price I could afford.  Three short days later it was all mine.

Believe me, when I say that selling my car was not the easiest thing I’ve ever done.  In fact, parting with my slender body during pregnancy was easier than parting with my car.  But I have since moved to a place that makes keeping a car difficult, I have a new baby that needs things, and if I’m not going to work then I need to sell my car.  Sure, it was heartbreaking to sell the one thing I’ve ever owned, but there’s something beautiful about owning next to nothing.  If you can get yourself into a situation where you don’t own a car, a house, school loans, or money on your credit cards it will truly feel incredible. Although I can’t take off at a moment’s notice easily with a baby, owning less brings me one step closer.

Selling my car didn’t mean I would never drive again.  There are several car-sharing opportunities out there, and now I finally get to test drive that Convertible Mini Cooper I’ve had my eye.

Zipcar is probably the most popular car-sharing program out there.  Most of their locations are either in major metropolitan areas or in college towns.  Prices vary from car to car, and city to city, but they are on a per hour basis. Zipcar offers several different kinds of plans depending on your needs. No matter what plan you choose, though, gas, insurance and 180 miles are included.

City CarShare has a similar program that also offers different options depending on your needs, but does not include miles.  Their costs combine miles and hours for a total fee, but their hourly rates tend to be less than Zipcar. City CarShare fees include gas and insurance.

Besides saving the annual cash by not having a car, I found myself walking more, and seeing things I may have missed had I been driving. Suddenly, I was also spending less cash on stuff I didn’t really need, because I had to weigh the options on what was worth carrying home and what wasn’t. Having a baby meant learning to enjoy the simple, small pleasures in life, and not owning a car is one small step for Moms, but one giant step for Broke-Ass Moms.

Photo by: Istockphoto PictureLake

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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.