Lifestyle Assessment Series: Transportation
My parents gave me a car a few months after I became a lawyer and joined a law firm near our house. I guess they got tired of my sister and I squabbling over my mom's car, which my mom also used, and they couldn't fathom that their lawyer daughter would take a jeep or tricycle to work (they were snobby that way).
So they bought me a Hyundai Getz, which I named Toyang. However, my parents only paid for the downpayment and left me to settle the monthly payments. Those monthly payments amounted to more than half of my take home pay (I worked in a small law firm which wasn't very generous to its associates) and I swore to drive that car to the ground because that's how much I hated those monthly payments.
Toyang will be celebrating her 10th year later this year thanks to my husband's religious maintenance, and it's been 7 glorious years since I last made a car payment.
If I still had car payments, our transportation expenses would increase by about Php10,000 to Php15,000, depending on the car we have. Sadly though, Toyang is starting to show her age and we may need to start shopping for a new car in 2-3 years. That means we have to start saving up for the downpayment and make room in our budget for the monthly payments. The dream is to pay for a brand new car in full, but the reality is that we will probably make a downpayment of at least 30%, with part of that funded by trading in or selling Toyang, and limit the monthly payment to Php15,000 with a 3 year payment term.
Sometimes I fantasize about not having a car at all since we do live near the highway, so public transportation is convenient, and there are banks and grocery stores within walking distance. My husband works from home and when I don't drive to work, my work commute involves a single FX ride and a 10 minute walk.
So in all honesty, we don't need a car. But having a car is convenient and is nice to have when the weather is bad and commuting involves running after jeepneys and buses in flooded streets. It's also nice to have a car when we go on a road trip to Baguio or Tagaytay and it's great to have a car so that I won't have to carry bags of grocery from the Waltermart a kilometer away from our house.
In short, we're paying for the convenience of having a car and if we were really hardcore frugalists, we would have gotten rid of our car years ago and banked/invested the savings from not paying for the privilege of using a car. But we're not hardcore, we love the comfort that a car brings a little too much.
Knowing that, I try to minimize our transportation expenses by making our car last for as long as it possibly can and commuting to work as often as I can. I'm lucky that my toll and parking costs are only a fraction of what my Makati and Ortigas counterparts pay for. However, I can't do anything about our condo parking costs because that's already fixed. The alternative is to buy the parking space but I can't stomach paying Php475,000 for a parking slot, so we'll always be renters when it comes to a parking slot.
The time will come when we'll have to replace our reliable and beloved Toyang, but for now, I'm hanging on to her and will have learn to work with her growing list of quirks and hiccups.