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.


edelweiza said…
It's really convenience and safety from bad elements that are our primary reasons in keeping a car as well. We don't pay for parking but we have toll fees to allot a budget for. We're not used to commuting anymore (mas convenient talaga kasi pag naka-car!) but we jump at every opportunity to commute like riding on the LRT when going to a place that's just near a station and riding in a pedicab or just walking when going to the mall nearest our place here in Manila. My husband is planning to get a bigger car in the near future (gusto rin kasi nya i-sideline yun sa Uber dahil uso yan ngayon among his peers) but I'm still undecided on it as I enjoy not worrying about car amortizations at present. I also want to maximize the use of our car as long as possible. :)
Hi Jill, just found your blog I wish I had read it sooner! Much like you, I fell prey to a little consumerism early on as a first year lawyer. I now know better. Also started a little personal finance blog at
Jen said…
Grabe, Toyang made it to her 10 years and still moving!!!! papano nyo sya napangalagaan? I want to do that in my car. Kotse namin gamit namin from office to work pero di sya masyadong gamit lalo na ngayon that our new job is somewhat closer in our rented place. So ngayon naglalakad na lang kami pauwi and ginagamit lang namin sya kapag umuulan. Sa tingin ko kung maganda naman ang mass transportation sa Pilipinas we no longer need car
Jillsabs said…
Hi Jen!

My husband is the one responsible for keeping Toyang alive and kicking at 10 years old. But he says he only follows the suggested maintenance works in the manual, like change oil after x number of kilometers. And if he feels that something is wrong with Toyang (i.e. may tumutunog, kumakabig sa kanan etc) then he brings her to our friendly neighborhood car repair shop ASAP.

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