Something exciting happened a couple of weeks back.
I passed my driving test!
Before I did that however I used to tell people I couldn’t drive and the response was always the same, surprise.
But to me waiting always seemed to be a good idea, I was only on minimum wage a student and there’s a big secret no one wants to admit.
CARS ARE REALLY EXPENSIVE!!!
Like seriously expensive, not just to buy but to own and run as well.
How expensive though?
When I became self-employed I found out about a number that perfectly sums up how expensive cars are.
It’s 45p a mile.
That’s how much you get to claim back against your car on your tax return at the end of the year if you’re self-employed or a business owner. You’re not allowed to write off the expense of buying a car anymore so they’ve given us this instead.
Now I can’t imagine the government being very generous with this so the actual amount will likely be higher but it’s a great benchmark.
And it doesn’t seem much right? A cheeky wee 45p?
If you combine it with the fact that in 2015 the average mileage of UK motorists was 7,900 miles it gets more serious.
That gives us the grand total cost of £3,555 a year!
That’s on 7,900 miles a year, I know of people who certainly drive more than that.
That is a serious amount of money! Especially to a young student working minimum wage. By waiting till I was 24, call it 6 years, I potentially saved £21,330!!
Now I obviously still had to get around while I didn’t drive so I bought a bus pass which was about £50 a month, then a couple of times a year I’d visit my parents which was £50 4 times a year so £800 a year. By taking the bus and not driving I saved £2,755 a year, £16,530 after 6 years.
How’s that for a huge chunk out your lifestyle?
But a question remains…
Will I get a car now that I’ve passed?
I’m earning enough now that I can cope with the extra expense and I’m pretty sure I can get the annual cost far lower than the average. And I bet you can too, being the badass sparks we are, because there’s a secret saving we can all make.
We can walk more.
You can walk to work! Walk to the shops, walk to your friend’s house. If it’s less than half an hour you can definitely walk there. Or even better get a bicycle, then you get all the benefits of free travel but much faster! And you’re half an hour area gets even bigger!
Plus walking gets you the benefit of exercise, and it helps clear your mind and relax you. Plus a whole host of great benefits I’m yet to get in to.
So I will be getting a car, once I save for a reasonable second hand one, but I will still be doing most of my travel by foot. Or since I’m moving I’ll have the luxury of somewhere to put a bike!
The Power Of The 45p Mile
The best thing is to take 45p a mile as a benchmark for any trip you make regularly. Especially if you commute.
I know people who do a 120-mile round trip commute every day, that’s £54 a day just to get to work.
I shared the power of saving £5 a day by bringing your lunch. Well £54 is beyond insane at £14,040 a year. A YEAR. If they moved closer to work for 10 years and only made that saving by the end they’d have £282,553 in the bank if it was invested. With a 4% withdrawal that’s £11,000 a year for life.
That’s an extreme case and one I really hope doesn’t apply to many of you. But even if your commute is smaller think about what that is actually costing you. A 30-mile round commute is £13 a day. £3,380 a year. And with a 10% return that’s £68,000 after a decade.
Or it’s a massive chunk out of your living cost. It means you need an extra £3,380 a year just to support yourself. That’s an extra £4760 in your pay packet so you can get that much as take-home pay. A huge amount of money.
So what can you do?
Get a job closer to home or get a home closer work.
If it’s an excessively big commute, more than 30 miles, then you need to move closer to work, the amount you save means you can move again in no time much richer and with the freedom to do what you want.
But if it’s a smaller commute then you gotta walk it, cycle it or take public transport.
But I want you to make the change in all the smaller car runs. They’ll add up a lot and most of the time they can definitely be done without a car. Take a look at your mileage at the start of the week and the end and see how far you’ve gone.
Then use 45p a mile and see how much it cost you. You may be horrified.
Then you can take a note of all the times you used your car and see which ones you could stop. Did you take the car down the street to buy milk? Did you drive past the closest supermarket to go to a different one?
Just become aware, that cars are expensive and not having one is always a choice.
And remember if you’re thinking about taking up a passion and working from home that’s a huge amount off the minimum you need to survive.