Car vs. Bus

Apr 21, 2013 by

          I am considering cancelling my car insurance. I know, I know, how will I transport myself? How will I withstand the utter inconvenience of being carless? How will I go on? I have posed these very same questions. Fear not: I will survive the unbearable annoyance of unreliable public transit schedules by staying focussed on getting to Europe. (Warning: This decision is still TBD. I reserve all rights to take everything I say in this post back in a future post. I am merely thinking aloud/in writing.)

          I cannot believe I am contemplating this. I love my car. In most cases, I am not materialistic. I don’t get a surge of happiness from buying new things. I don’t like to shop. Black Friday and Boxing Day mean nothing to me. I think of money in terms of travel. Travel enthralls me; possessions do not. For example, the thought of a $90 shopping spree makes me sick to my stomach because it costs a roundtrip bus ticket from Toronto to NYC. My car is an exception to the rule. I’m proud of my car. I bought it on St. Patty’s Day 2010 (my car has the coolest birthday) for $5,400 with a loan taken out under my dad’s name (told you my dad’s the best!). Working tirelessly that summer, I paid off the loan by July (a little less than four months later). My adorable little Toyota Echo was christened The Beaut, and he’s been my best inanimate friend for just over three years. No matter how crappy my day is, he always cheers me up with a drive and some awesome music. He’s been with me through good times and bad. He’s sheltered me on nights when I’ve had nowhere to sleep. I’m just supposed to abandon him in a parking space until further notice?

          While this isn’t the first time I’d be cancelling my car insurance, the grievance cycle is just as difficult each time. Since it was my happiness experiment that led me to reinstate my car insurance less than two months ago, it is especially hard to cope with losing him now. By March, I hadn’t driven my car in four months and Olivia had just totalled hers. Not ready to live the life of a poor student again, I reinsured my car to spare my sanity when we lost Glorious (Olivia’s car – RIP bud). This was around the time where I began to start reassuring myself about my decisions with the mantra, “happiness experiment” (and so it was born), granting myself permission to make the choices that made me happy, even if not the best decisions measured by other scales (i.e. financial sensibility). The feelings of freedom and independence that I felt when I drove my car for the first time this year were invigorating. I was satisfied with being robbed by my insurance provider if it meant that I could feel this light. Just writing this is making me pro-car. I swear I was pro-bus a few minutes ago.

          At $120 for a monthly pass, taking the bus is significantly cheaper than driving. The buss pass alone costs less than the amount of gas I pump each month, never mind the cost of insurance and maintenance. By not paying car insurance, I could start putting money from my paycheques into my dream fund two months earlier than I could if I keep driving. My car offers freedom. The bus offers opportunity. I want both. I’m trying to determine which course will make me happiest. Realistically, the bus can’t be that bad. I bussed everywhere for four years during university. I mainly use my car to get to work. I don’t go out a lot and I can’t afford to drive too far when I do. Even more reason to forgo my car is my location. I am walking distance to a lot of places and bussing distance to the grocery store. The only slight challenge would be getting downtown, where I like to go to try new restaurants. I’m only 20 minutes from Toronto, but crossing city borders costs an extra $3.00 each way. I only go a few times a month, so the extra $6.00 roundtrip to gastro pubs and street-inspired menus is a bargain compared to driving. Looking at the bigger picture, taking the bus for a year is $1,319.20 less than my current annual insurance premium, plus gas and car maintenance savings. I’m not sure that my drive to and from work is worth that kind of money. That’s more than a flight to Europe, after all. The ability to start saving money from my paycheques sooner and the reduced financial pressure of not having to pay car insurance seem more freeing than the open road. I may be pro-bus again. (I still love you Beaut.)

          In all honesty, my biggest fear of reverting back to student life via public transit is not the inconvenience it imposes. It’s that I’ll use not having access to my car as an excuse to not go out, which is not acceptable. I’m running a happiness experiment for a reason. My drive to get out of the apartment and (insert horrified expression here) be social are the areas of my life that require the greatest improvement. If I keep driving my car, I have to start going out. If I take the bus, I still have to start going out. Unfortunately, the bus adds an extra step in my mind. Multistep tasks make me anxious. It will be easier to talk myself out of making happiness strides during near-panic attacks, easily induced by bus trips. Essentially, I’m scared to fail my happiness experiment. Bus or car, that is not an option, so I guess it really does come down to just money versus convenience. I’ll keep you posted.

          P.S. If I take the bus, I don’t have to be DD! Ironically, maybe the bus would benefit my social life!

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