For decades now, it seems every family has at least one vehicle, if not multiple. Gas has been affordable. The competitive auto industry has kept the general population desperate for the latest high tech features. The banks were overly generous with lending to ensure everyone was behind the wheel of their very own car. Times had been good, until recently.
Many people must now make difficult choices. Does a person put gas in the car to get to work to make money, or buy new shoes for junior so he does not get made fun of at school? Sorry junior, times are tough. It is becoming more of a reality that cars are becoming a luxury item again. Believe it or not, a time existed when owning a vehicle was a true sign of prosperity. Perhaps this is how the obsession with cars began. Look at older homes compared to more recently built models. Many older homes were lucky to have a car port, let alone a garage where you can throw some performance parts in there. Today’s homes now often have a three car garage. Times are changing again.
If a person would sit down to calculate the actual costs of owning a vehicle, they may be highly surprised. Make a list. How much is spent on the following: Gas each week, yearly oil changes, miscellaneous maintenance fees, car washes, yearly auto insurance cost, parking, money spent on auto parts, and detailing? These are not all of a vehicle’s expenses; however, they cover an average person’s routine costs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average US car owner spends 17% of their annual household expenditures on their car ownership, second only to one’s mortgage. A family could save nearly $7,500 per year by eliminating the vehicle. These are not figures the auto industry likes people to consider.
This figure is highly tempting to many people. We have become a car society; however, this is slowly changing. People are walking and riding bikes to work more now. Use of public transportation is up in nearly all cities. People are becoming more logistically conscious while running errands to save on gas. Most people are probably not quite ready to hand over the keys to their car; however, with tighter lending policies, less disposable income, and improved perceptions of public transportation; the days are fast approaching to a life where cars are a luxury again.