Retired in New Jersey – Do I Really Need a Car?

retired in New Jersey

Owning a car gives you the freedom to hop in and drive wherever you want, whenever you want. While most of us tend to see this convenience as a necessity, the cost of owning a car can be a major burden on your budget—especially after retirement. When it comes to deciding whether or not you really need a car, it is important to consider your individual needs. Here are some things to think about if you’re wondering if you can get by without a vehicle.

After retirement, of course you want to spend your money pursuing lifelong dreams and kicking back. But many people find themselves struggling to maintain their lifestyle with retirement savings. There are few choices that can make as big of a financial difference as the choice to give up your car. The following is a typical breakdown of monthly car expenses:

  • Car Payment: $300.00 per month
  • Gas: $150.00 per month
  • Insurance: $80.00 per month
  • Maintenance: $100 per month
  • Parking: $40.00 per month
  • Depreciation: $200.00 per month

These expenses add up fast!  The average car owner spends $870.00 a month on their car—and that’s not including the potentially huge cost(s) of unforeseeable repairs in the event that something breaks or you are involved in an accident. If you are a multiple-car household, these costs can absorb a huge amount of your budget. Even giving up just one car can save you thousands throughout the year.

So getting rid of your car can help you save big, but how will you get around without one? There might be more options than you think.

Most New Jersey cities, suburbs, and even some rural areas have public transportation in the form of buses, trains, and/or trolleys. On average, people spend about $120.00 per month on public transportation. In order to figure out if this is an option in the area you live, do a quick internet search to see what kind of services are available. Many counties in NJ have their own bus services for travel to popular destinations like local shopping centers, hospitals, or larger travel hubs. If you’ve always owned a car, the number of public transportation services available in your area may surprise you.

Even if public transportation can’t get you everywhere you need to go, there are plenty of other options at your disposal. Is your community walkable? Are there bike paths? Walking or biking around town is a great way to stay active in retirement with the added bonus of being able to explore parts of your area that you would typically zoom right past while driving.

Ride sharing is also an increasingly popular way to get around. With companies like Uber and Lyft offering rides to customers for around $1-$2 per mile, these affordable options give you the convenience of a car without all the hassle and expense. Especially if you live in an area where it is difficult to pick up public transportation, ride sharing services are a great way to get around while saving money.

With the average monthly cost of a car equaling $870.00 a month and the average cost of using public transportation or ride-sharing typically around $120.00 a month, you could save about $9,000.00 a month. That’s no small savings! All that extra money can put a little more cushion in your budget, allowing you to live more comfortably. You can use that savings to do the things you’ve always wanted to do, like travel or pick up a new hobby.

Not everyone can give up their car. But owning a car is not always a necessary expense. If you can get by without a car, you can save big. Look at all of your options to decide whether or not owning a car in retirement is the right choice for you.

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