• Ginny Brooks

The Cost of Getting Around: 3 Unique Takes on Transportation Spending

Transportation is tricky! Everyone has different needs when it comes to transportation, but no matter what you choose, being intentional about how it fits into your budget can save major💰💰💰.

I transitioned from having my car in college (and parents who took care of my car💕) to sole car ownership in a metropolitan area (yikes💥). Insurance🚗 , inspection🔎, registration📜, and upkeep🛠 can add up quickly and get forgotten when budgeting, double whammy.

This piece is all about how we get around. If you have a car, should you keep it? What is the cost of keeping it? If not, what is the cost of the alternative? How does where you live impact the type of transportation that you can consider? We talked to three recent grads (names changed for anonymity) about their transportation philosophies and budgets. This article is like a hybrid of MoneyStories and Back to the Basics— after talking to them, we created a spreadsheet so you can navigate your transportation decisions!

Tati, 22 | Small Town North Carolina ~$20k salary

What is your main form of transportation?

Viola, a 2003 Honda Civic 🥰🚗

How often do you use your car?

I use my car every day! I drive to work, the grocery store, farmer's market...basically anywhere that's not my apartment.

Why is having your car important?

Not only is having a car a necessity for work, but it's also necessary for life outside of work. I live in an area that is surrounded by mountains and I need my car to enjoy life and get outside! There is also no public transportation in my area, so it's not really an option. Even though I'm on a tight budget, I can't imagine not having my car.

Do you have any advice for car owners?

I've been caught off guard by expensive car repairs in the past— prepare for the unexpected. Take care of your car; good vibes bring in good vibes. Also clean your car. 🙏

Let's breakdown the costs of Viola:

Maddy, 25 | New York City, ~$100k salary

What is currently your main form of transportation?

Well, pre-COVID when I was in New York, I always took the metro, walked, or rode a citi bike 🚇🚶‍♀️🚲

What was your transportation like before moving to New York?

I lived in Dallas in college and drove my car (Lance, a 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer 🏎🚦) to school and used it to get everywhere— to class, to nanny, to work— everything. I needed it daily.

Why did you decide to get rid of your car after college?

It was an easy choice for me. Every year I was spending about $1000 on insurance, $100 on maintenance, $300 on repairs, and $600 on gas (only positive was spending $0 on inspection because Lance was illegally still registered in FL where we don’t have inspections...)

Anyways— I moved to the city for the city things and I want to spend my weekends doing that. In NYC, parking costs are INSANE and there are $20 tolls to get in and out of Manhattan 😥🆘

For work, my employer offers metro perks and it's only a 20-30 minute walk if I decide. (This part of her total compensation package)

Do you have any advice for car owners?

Get maintenance done early so you don’t create expensive issues, a used car is a 100% better purchase than new car, take transit when possible to save money and the earth 🌎✨

Let's breakdown the cost:

Charli, 23 | Washington, DC ~$60k salary

What is your main form of transportation?

PriPri, a dark green 2001 Prius ⭐🚙

How often do you use your car?

I use my car once or twice a week— usually on the weekends to get out of the city or run errands.

Did you have a car before moving to DC?

Yes! I had my car in college in Charlottesville for three years. I used it way more and needed it to get everywhere. I considered getting rid of it when I moved, but my commute makes it worth the cost.

Why is having your car important?

Currently, I'm working remotely, but when I start commuting again, it's so much faster. The bus would take 50 minutes, walking would take 45, biking would take 20, and my drive is 10 minutes. It's also necessary for all the fun things— wineries with mom, camping, getting to Charlottesville.

Do you have any advice for car owners?

It all really adds up. I wasn't sure I was going to keep my car when I moved because there are so many costs associated— I started considering parking with rent and all my other monthly expenses. Have money set aside for repairs; you never know what's going to happen.

Let's breakdown the cost of PriPri:

Let's make a transportation plan!

Start by plotting out all your possible transportation options. Think about cost per use— if you’re driving once a month, is it worth the cost of parking, insurance, registration, inspection, maintenance, and repairs? If having a car is really important to you, how can you reflect that priority in your budget? Talk to the people around you and look at what people in your area are doing for clues about the best way to get around efficiently and affordably.

Try out this spreadsheet to make a transportation budget. Think about these questions:

  • How do you currently get around?

  • Do your transportation costs make up than 15% of your income?

  • What is your monthly transportation cost? Is this where you would like it to be?

  • What are the biggest costs related to your transportation?

  • How has your transportation changed in the past year?


Looking at your transportation can result in small changes and big wins. Try out a few different options and see what’s right for you. Good luck navigating your transportation budget!

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Disclaimer: The content on Young, Not Broke is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor.

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