As we are getting married in just two and a half short months (gosh, time flies), my fiancé and I sat down a couple of weekends ago to do a comprehensive budget analysis. This is an exercise that we wanted to do prior to combining our chequing accounts.
We started by categorizing our bills and spending into groups, such as housing and transportation. We then looked at how much each item in that group cost us; gas, property and car insurance, maintenance, etc.
We wanted to see where we were spending most of our money, and whether there is any opportunity for us to cut down on any of those bills as a result of the combination of our finances.
Other than housing, our biggest budget buster is transportation. On average, we spend more than $1,000/month on our vehicles, and that’s just to get to and from work. We didn’t factor any road trip costs into that number (as road trips would go into “travel”), and we only accounted for $100/month maintenance costs for both vehicles.
Of that $1,000, the breakdown is:
- $180/month truck insurance
- $187/month car insurance
- $400/month gas for truck
- $130/month gas for car
- $100/month maintenance
- $10/month average for extras (tires, etc)
My partner’s truck is getting tired, and while we do take good care of it through regular maintenance, it won’t last forever. It has over 250,000 KM on it, and is almost 20 years old.
My car, on the other hand, still has around 80,000 KM on it and is running perfectly fine. It has great fuel economy, at about 40 MPG. It will need new tires and brakes within the next year or so, but the brakes will cost less than $100 inclusive since we will be doing the work, and the tires will be about $500.00.
Right now, it is not realistic for us to become a one car family. Both of our jobs require access to a car now and then, and I often must drive to communities which don’t have access to public transit for my work.
At first, my attitude was that if we couldn’t drop my fiancé’s truck in favour of becoming a one-car couple with only my Civic, we wouldn’t be able to save money on transportation costs. However, recently, we’ve decided to start carpooling on the days that it makes sense.
We can carpool at least 2-3 times per week to work. I spend about $6/day on gas in my car to get to work, so if we carpool three times per week, we are saving $72/month just in gas savings on my end alone.
My other half has to be at work at 4:00 AM usually twice per week, so those are the days we can’t carpool and therefore we just take our own vehicles.
Since it costs about $20/day in gas for my partner to take the truck, and my car has at least double the fuel economy, when we carpool, he drives the car. We save $30/week, or $120/month on his end by carpooling.
Maintenance costs won’t go down and we have to keep both of our vehicles insured, so we aren’t saving any money in that regard, but overall we are saving just under $192/month from carpooling on the 3 days a week that we are able to.
Sure, it gets tricky with work tools and logistics (especially since my job description dictates that I must have access to a vehicle), but it has worked out really well for the past couple of weeks, and has even given us the chance to spend more time together on our commute.
Because transportation can cost so much, and eats up such a big portion of our monthly budget, we find that it’s one of the easiest places to save if we put our minds to it.
What are the ways that you’ve cut back on transportation costs in the past?
We pay $105/mth for a truck and a Mazda2 in Ontario. Our gas budget is $280/mth – $200 for the truck and $80 for the car. We usually underspend, except for the summer months when we go out of town more. The truck is fully paid for but we pay $177 biweekly for the car. I understand when you say you think your costs are high. Trucks are such gas hogs!
A great way for many to slash transportation costs is to join a carsharing organization and get rid of a vehicle. Depending on your needs for auto-mobility, carsharing may not make sense for you, but it’s worth investigating.
It’s actually amazing how low my transportation costs are because I work from home. However, when I was the manager at a marketing firm, I offered to pick 4 employees up and drop them off. They each had to pay a little bit of gas money which made my gas free, and it guaranteed that they would get to work on time for less than a bus fare. Overall, it worked pretty well!
Our transportation costs are rather high, but we do save a LOT when it comes to car insurance. I’m not sure how we lucked out since normally our two cars are supposed to have the highest insurance rates (a muscle car and a Jeep), yet we are fully covered for less than $100 a month altogether.
Have you guys tried looking around for better car insurance rates? I’m sure you have but I just wanted to ask 🙂
It’s great that you two have done this work before getting married. I think what you’ve mapped out so far is already saving you money. As others have said, another option that would help even more is carpooling with fellow employees.