Friday, December 16, 2016

An Experiment in Frugality

My car is totaled. The Geico adjuster estimated that the repairs would be in the neighborhood of $7800; I bought the entire car (previously owned) five years ago for $8000. Spending so much on repairs would make little economic sense. I gave the adjuster man the title; he gave me a check for $5307.26, their calculation of what it would cost to purchase a vehicle equivalent to the one I just wrecked.

I looked at that check - a fairly paltry one for the purposes of car shopping, but quite a nice one in its own right. Ooh! If only I didn't have to use that check to buy a car! If only I could just HAVE that money to refill my ever-depleting coffers and fatten my ever-shrinking purse!

Then, as I drove home, check tucked into my purse, I started to think: what if I DIDN'T buy a replacement car? What if I DID just hang on to that money?

Double ooh!

I thought some more. My son and daughter-in-law, and their two little girls, live with me. Both Christopher and Ashley own cars. Christopher uses his to go off to work every day. But Ashley is a stay-at-home mom and plans to be a primary caregiver for the foreseeable future. She's taking courses, but online. She hardly drives anywhere. Even when I had my sweet little Chevy Aveo, I hardly drove anywhere. When feasible, I greatly prefer to walk or to ride the Skip, one of Boulder's extremely excellent buses.

Did our extended family really need TWO cars sitting around for 90 percent of the time, costing us money that we'd just as soon spend on something else? What if Ashley and I shared both the use of her vehicle and the costs associated with it? Wouldn't this be a win-win situation for both of us? And, if this gave us an incentive to drive less (which it definitely will, for me), a win-win both for us and the planet?

So this is our plan for now, to be a two-car rather than three-car family, to coordinate, to share, to take turns, all of those good things. If we don't like it, that $5307.26 is right there in my bank account, swelling the balance but pledged to remain untouched.

I've been saying that I want to make 2017 a year of greater frugality, with more mindful (and just plain less) spending. The slushy stretch of road last week that totaled my poor little car has just given me that chance.

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