Frugal Occasional Car Access

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Frugal Occasional Car Access

Post by brookline »

Hi everybody,
I’m seeking access to a reliable automobile for the next few years. My situation is unusual and I’m so I’m asking for advice. The car would solely be for the purpose of shuttling my kids around to sports and community activities. I expect to be a long-term work-at-home person, live in a street car suburb, and rely on public transit, bike, and foot for my personal transport needs. The car will likely be idle either 4 days per week or every other week. I'd prefer not to buy. I’m wary of Lyft/Uber due to COVID and safety issues. What is the most economical way to handle this? Are there lease or rental options?

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Re: Frugal Occasional Car Access

Post by Ego »

I am seeing a lot more of these around town since covid. Most are electric assist.


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Re: Frugal Occasional Car Access

Post by brookline »

Ego wrote:
Fri Dec 03, 2021 6:58 pm
I am seeing a lot more of these around town since covid. Most are electric assist.

While I like the electric bike concept, one child is 150 pounds and the other is 68 pounds.
Also, both kiddos have been clear they don't like dad's bike-based lifestyle. :cry:

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Re: Frugal Occasional Car Access

Post by basuragomi »

Edit: For reference, I drive about 5x a year.

Most convenient: I use a car share service which is about $50 for one day and $35 for additional days. Gas and insurance included. Availability plummets over weekends, how your local service handles this might make a big difference. A folding bike that can be tossed into the trunk might make this easier.

Less convenient: Next option for long trips is rental.

You could borrow a vehicle from family or good friends or send the kids to carpool with their friends/neighbours. Main disadvantage for me was that their cars were in pretty poor condition compared to always-new rentals.

I've had Turo recommended to me as well. Can't say how usable it is.

All of these are only really good for urban areas. If you're really rural I've seen people get away with a side-by-side, ATV, snowmobile+sled or horse.

Wacky but ultimately not worth it here, might work for you: One-day/weekend insurance on a cheap electric car. Normally meant for private car sales.

Taxi services could work too. I find that basically any other option is superior though.
Last edited by basuragomi on Sun Dec 05, 2021 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Frugal Occasional Car Access

Post by ducknald_don »

brookline wrote:
Fri Dec 03, 2021 8:21 pm
Also, both kiddos have been clear they don't like dad's bike-based lifestyle. :cry:
I know what my response to that would be. :)

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Re: Frugal Occasional Car Access

Post by Laura Ingalls »

My grand total of four Uber/Lyft rides this year seemed pretty Covid safe.
Everyone masked.

I also don’t think you are going to come up with a more cost effective way without expending a lot of social capital (like taking an elderly neighbor who doesn’t drive places in exchange for occasional use of his or her car).

Be thankful that rideshare is available. Some of us in Podunk could get rid of one car if we had viable rideshares.

The Old Man
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Re: Frugal Occasional Car Access

Post by The Old Man »

You have several options:
(1) Borrow a car (using social capital)
(2) Rent a car through a sharing platform (i.e. Turo)
(3) Rent a car through a car rental firm
(4) Lease a car
(5) Buy a used car
(6) Buy a new car
(7) Ride sharing (Uber/Lyft)
(8) Taxi

You don’t have a car and so it is likely you also don’t have car insurance. This means your insurance rates will be high as the insurance firm will consider you to be high risk. You will need to make inquiries to find out how high it could be. Because of high insurance rates, buying a car (used or new) or leasing a car may not be the most optimal choice given your usage scenario.

For cars you will need insurance for both liability and collision/property damage. If you have the right credit card it will include rental car insurance (collision/property damage but not liability). Credit card rental car insurance will not cover Turo as Turo is not considered to be a rental car agency but a car sharing platform. For insurance reasons I don’t consider Turo and its equivalents to be viable. Credit card rental car insurance is generally secondary meaning your personal auto insurance provides primary coverage, but if you do not have auto insurance then the credit card will cover everything. Be sure to read the terms to be sure.

For liability insurance you can buy insurance coverage at the car rental agency. I am not sure how it is handled with Turo. If you rent a lot of cars, then it may be worthwhile to consider obtaining a non-owner operator insurance coverage to preclude the need to buy it at the agency.

I’m assuming borrowing a car using social capital is not feasible. Per your requirements ride sharing is also not feasible. Taxis are probably the most expensive option possible. Finally, Uber and Lyft are both experiencing a driver shortage, so they are not as reliable as they once were.

Which option to choose will depend on how much you plan to use the car. Your scenario looks to be light usage, so renting a car from an agency may be the best option. You will have to run the numbers.

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Re: Frugal Occasional Car Access

Post by Scott 2 »

It sounds like you need to drive an average of every other day. Financially - unless you can trade social capital to have someone else bear the cost, I think you'll struggle to beat owning a smartly bought used car. Your choice to go car free is a lifestyle one, not financial.

With that perspective, I'd encourage picking the options that best fit your lifestyle. I imagine it's a combination of social capital, guiding the kids into your car free lifestyle and ride shares.

Rentals saddle you with similar hassles to owning - pickup / drop off, parking, fueling, insurance, etc. Unless you can batch all driving into a couple days a month, I think you'll also struggle to beat the cost of ride shares.

We're running a 2015 Honda CRV, bought used for $17k. Over the past 2 years, we have averaged under $125 a month - inclusive of gas, insurance, registration, maintenance, etc. Current blue book value is a couple thousand higher. So the original purchase has basically been an inflation hedge. We didn't put much effort into keeping the cost of ownership low. I am sure someone making it a priority could do better.

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Re: Frugal Occasional Car Access

Post by chenda »

I would agree with Scott2 your use is more than occasional. Owing a second hand fuel efficient vehicle is probably the best option.

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Re: Frugal Occasional Car Access

Post by Salathor »

My wife and I lived in a dense suburban area before moving to our new location and drove only 1-3 times per week. We totaled probably 1000-2000 miles per year of 'convenience' driving, and the other 4000 miles we drove were all on 500+ mile road trips. Even at that usage, it makes way more sense for us to own a car than to rent one. I'm guessing you're in the same situation based on your use examples.

If you really want to get around it, maybe there are bus options for the kids for sports? (Although I'm guessing you already looked into this.) As a father and an (ex) kid, I can definitely see how the 150# child would be unwilling to ride in the back of your bike. I rode the bus to work for a year or two though and saw a lot of kids.

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Re: Frugal Occasional Car Access

Post by brookline »

Hi everyone,
Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful responses! I love this community!

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