Written by Naphtalia Loderick - freelance personal finance editor
While I’m sure some of you have a lengthy commute for which your car is a necessity, many Brits - especially those who live in cities - own cars that are driven a few miles to work, parked up, driven back home and, well, parked again - with the odd trip to the shops and a school run thrown in.
Yet running a car isn’t cheap. There’s road tax, fuel, insurance, maintenance, parking and in fact, one in 10 motorists claim they’re driving less these days due the difficulty in finding parking spaces, the RAC’s Report on Motoring 2014 found.
The cost of running a car? £4,674 a year
I’ve calculated that the average annual cost of running a car is a staggering £4,674 a year! This is based on figures from the AA’s car running costs resource.*
That’s a lot of money to spend on something that goes unused a lot of the time and this is why I think having a car is a financial luxury. As one friend of mine admits:
“I bought a car as my previous job involved a lot of commuting at odd times so public transport just wasn’t an option.
“But I left that job more than a year ago and yet I’ve kept my car - even though I don’t need it and it costs me to keep it on the road. So it is a luxury but having a car makes my life easier - when seeing friends or going food shopping.”
I have many friends like this – they have a car but don’t even use it to drive to work as they walk/get public transport/are too cheap to pay for city centre parking. YET these same car-owning friends - and my family - regularly harangue me about my use of taxis as “it’s a waste of money. Buy a car”, they say. But I don’t have a car because I’ve weighed up the cost and I save money by not owning one despite all the taxis I take.
Admittedly, I could save even more money getting fewer taxis and making more use of 1. my legs, and 2. public transport. But taking a taxi is, for me, like my ‘have-car-but-rarely-drive-it’ friends, the financial luxury that makes my life that bit easier.
What’s your financial indulgence?
After having this discussion with a friend, it got me thinking: what’s the one luxury you can’t live without – that others think indulgent?
For a male friend of mine it’s good food. “I could save money by bringing lunch in but I don’t want to eat last night’s leftovers or a homemade sandwich.”
Another male friend, married, with children, says he likes the odd cigar. But with an eye to getting the best value for money, he stocks up on the finest Cuban cigars at the airport so that when he does indulge, he’s indulging in the best.
Do you have a financial indulgence? Tell us yours over on our Facebook page.
* Figures based on a petrol car with a purchase price of up to £13,000 when new, with petrol costing 115.0 pence per litre, doing 5,000 miles a year.