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How Green is My Ride?

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

My Car

Yesterday I was driving to pick my son up from school and I was sitting at a light behind an aging, maroon colored car. I could see from their temporary plates and dealer plate holder that they had just bought the car and at that moment I realized that I have changed so much on this green journey of mine. I have always been something of a car snob I guess. I liked new cars with that new car smell and every car I have had was fresh from the factory with that stylish car payment that says “I am so successful that I can afford to waste money on something that will depreciate significantly just by driving it off the lot.”

It only took about a year before I was upside down on car worth versus loan amount still due but hey it was a NEW car. When the car started to look not so new it was time to trade in and when I got married of course both hubby and I both had to have our own cars. Then we started trying to live with a lighter eco footprint and we bought a used vehicle. About two years after that we decided we needed something with better gas mileage even if meant downgrading to a car once again… like we had pre-kids.

Since hubby’s vehicle was a company owned 18 wheeler I got to choose my new-to-me car and I chose the one above. It was an 8 year old car in great condition with only 40,000 miles. It had a sun roof, a remote starter, lots of trunk space, and it cost half of what I would usually spend on a new car. I did initially get a loan on it but I paid it off after only a couple months. I love this car and I plan to keep it until it tanks out on me. Just this week I had to put out $500 for a new tie rod, internal maintenance, and four new tires but considering I have no car payment and good gas mileage I am happy as a clam…I just passed 100,000 miles.

When I saw that rather ugly maroon car in front of me yesterday my first thought was COOL. I wondered if it ran well and how many miles it had. I realized that I now have a used car mentality. Gone are the days when I see a new car and get a twinge of jealousy. Now I just smile to myself and remember that I have a car that meets my needs and no car payment. I also have a more affordable car insurance premium from buying used, though I know this can vary by car model. I am not throwing away my money on bank interest or higher insurance rates, and by buying used I am recycling. That feeling is so liberating I can’t even describe it.

Another good feeling comes from deciding to only have one vehicle. When my hubby quit his trucking job we had a little problem…two people, one car. But we really didn’t want to buy another car so we found some work arounds. Hubby got a night job so we both had the car when we needed it. I found that at first I was irritated about not having a car from 4:30 PM to 8:00 the next morning but quickly I realized that it was saving me money. I stopped making quick shopping trips to pick up “one” item that quickly turned into a shopping cart full of crap I didn’t need. I also couldn’t get lazy and decide to take the kids out to eat if I didn’t feel like making food. It turned out to be a blessing.

But then the economy tanked and my hubby was switched to day shifts. This was very bad for us since we now had two children in two different schools that did not have bus service. It wasn’t feasible to drive my husband to work since I would have to get the kids up at 4:30 in the morning so they could ride along. We were going to be forced to buy a new car and I was really bummed. But we got creative and borrowed a car for 3-4 days a week until he got switched back to the night shift (this week). I did end up buying a used motorcyle as a backup for good weather days too. The gas mileage on it will be a big money saver for us in the summer months.

At some point we may decide to become a two car household again but I am confident that we will do it only if it becomes necessary and not because it is merely convenient. I am also confident that we will not get sucked back into the new car consumer trap until the time comes when green car technology really does make a new car the more eco friendly option. As it is now, it is just more eco friendly to buy used.

But it is very nice to catch yourself mid thought and realize…I am not the same person anymore… in a good way. ;)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

10 Comments on How Green is My Ride?

  • You know it’s crazy how in the states everyone is concerned about how green their rides are and are really trying to do somethign about it. for instance, i know people are opting to bike, walk, and carpool. living in 3rd world countries (costa rica) and i’m about to move to guatemala. it simply amazes me that no one cares!! and they drive huge cars. i know, you’re like, but they earn so much less. no matter, they are nations of credit too. but the congestion is insane. i mean 2 hours for a 10 mile drive. and 99% of the cars have single drivers. it sickens me.

    i’m moving to guatemala and my goal is to either be so central that i can walk everywhere, or at worse get a scooter!

  • Marina,

    I would love to bike or walk but hubs would be doing a 100 miles per day at least and there is not even a grocery within a mile of our house…so walking or biking with kids is not very practical for many areas of the states. Maybe when we move to the city we will be able to walk more.

  • andiscandis

    My husband and I have been thinking of getting a new truck for months now. Ours is 10 years old and thus has none of the latest safety features or the latch system for the baby’s car seat. Since they’re practically giving trucks away right now, we figured we should take advantage. But I just got over it the other day. Our truck is paid for, has low mileage, and is in excellent condition. I only drive a couple of days per week (he has a Prius of his own for commuting) so the 19 mpg doesn’t bother me that much. What’s the point of getting a new truck?

  • I am with you 100%!! I don’t think my hubby or I will even buy a new car. I am to spoiled with no car payment. And I have to say I love the looks people give me when I tell them my car is 15 years old and still running like new. :)

  • Sharon Dixon

    We have been a one car family ever since my first son was born. At first it was becuase we couldnt afford two car payments if I wanted to stay home. Now, it is a choice. My husband did just purchase a scooter and he LOVES it. At first he thought people might make fun of him (good thing he doesnt care), but people are always commenting on how awesome it is that it only cost $1.50 to fill up and that will last a week or two. Your blog just really hit home…love it.

  • RickRussellTX

    “I stopped making quick shopping trips to pick up “one” item that quickly turned into a shopping cart full of crap I didn’t need.”

    Wow. That, umm, is an extremely accurate description of almost every post-sundown shopping trip I’ve ever made.

    Food for thought. Oh, that reminds me, I sure could go for hummus right abo… NOOOOOO!

  • Amy

    I drive a diesel vehicle (VW Golf TDI) as my daily driver, 7 years old, 126,000 and going strong and NO car payment (paid off, bought new). My husband drives a used Audi Allroad that is the bees knees. It doesn’t have half the mileage my VW does (50 mpg) but he works 2 miles from home. Our big truck, that we have to pull our horse trailer, stays parked unless absolutely needed. Also bought used, a former US Marshall’s vehicle with 147,000 when we bought it, but it’s in great condition and is the 3/4 ton vehicle that we need to pull a heavy trailer with fat ponies!

    If I do get another vehicle I would get another diesel vehicle and get something slightly bigger. The Golf is great, I LOVE it, but it is small with 2 kids and all our stuff. The next one I’m considering is the new VW Jetta Sportwagon TDI. Boy are they nice!

  • I currently drive our SUV (6 cyl.), so that hubby can take the small 4 cyl, for his long commute to work. Most days my Explorer sits in the driveway. During nice weather I take my daughter to the closest market in her stroller, and I plan combined trips as much a s possible. A tank lasts me at least a month, usually longer. Getting rid of it would just be silly.

    I do drool over the small hybrid crossovers though.

  • Teresa

    We bought our last new car 3 years ago. It was the last of 50 2006 4 cyl models left anywhere, we used a family discount plan from Ford and got an amazing offer….for almost a year we had equity in it! We paid the tiny loan off in 3 months, after we sold our old car, and I will never buy another new car again…unless we get that great deal! :)

    With today’s economic climate we are truly greatful we had the forethought to stay within our means. The thought of having another car payment is sickening!

  • Erin

    It’s great to hear of another mom two-wheeling it. :) PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make sure you wear properly fitting gear. The cost of a good helmet/jacket/gloves/boots will eat up any gas savings over the first year but it’s worth it.

    I’d only been riding for only 3 months when an in-attentive minivan driver gave me a flying lesson, and I landed ON my helmet. My armored jacket kept me from crushing both elbows.

    Stay safe and alert.