Thursday, October 2, 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to saving money with Zipcar . . .

When I first sold my car, I figured if I spent anything under $400 per month for transportation I'd be ahead of the game. It didn't take long though, to start thinking of $0 for car expense as the norm, and anything over that as excessive. I started consciously cutting back on my Zipcar use, cringing at every dollar I spent for the priviledge of driving.

The problem? Whereas before we never really went anywhere fun because I was concerned the Subaru wasn't dependable enough, now we never go anywhere fun because it costs too much to rent a car for the day. Arrgghhh! How did this happen??

I have recently identified travel as my #1 recreational priority. But here's the thing: Local travel counts. There's a limit to the number of big trips we can take every year, so to maintain our spirit of adventure we need the little trips. I have to budget for local travel as well as distance travel.

So . . . I can rent a Prius for $62 per day. Four days per month -- either 2 full weekends, or one day each weekend, or some combination therein -- is $248. Math is not my forte, but I believe that leaves about $150 per month before I hit that $400 level. That's 15+ hours of running around town, which should be fine if I organize myself a little better.

Now the only thing left is to arrange my finances so I can get on the $250/month plan and save 15% instead of 10% on my hourly rates. The problem is that the plan amount is taken out of your account at the start of the month, all in one chunk. With the plan I have now, they take $50 on the 1st-ish, and then I pay as I go. But this last month? I spent over $300.

Of course, that included $73 for a trip to the beach at Oswald West, which was more than worth it. It was sunny, beautiful and warm, and at low tide the tide pools were packed with anemones, sea stars and fish, and a number of cool caves that are normally underwater were made available for exploration. This is why we have cars. This is what makes the trade-offs worthwhile.


Rossco said...

One thing to consider is that sometimes it is cheaper to rent a car at Enterprise than it is to do Flexcar. Enterprise will charge $25/day if you rent over the weekend (book online). What about the extra cost for car insurance? Well, if you book the car with your credit card, most credit card companies include rental car coverage free! (check with your credit card co first). So if I wanted a Enterprise car for 4 days, it would only cost $120 + gas.

Just another option to have in the bag of tricks of car free living!

Teddy said...

A funny thing happened while you were writing your comment . . .
I haven't had a credit card in years, because they are objectionable to me on so many levels, but I just got one -- it literally was delivered to my door today. And sure enough, it includes insurance when I rent a car.
So I took a look at Enterprise: Weekend rental of an economy-class car is $14 per day, $46 total from 5pm Friday until noon Monday! And that includes unlimited mileage as long as you remain in Oregon and/or Washington.
That's so cheap it's mindblowing. Thanks!!!