Where the money went 2010: Part 2 – Transportation

I’m a single mom who doesn’t own a car. Don’t think for a minute that I don’t have any transportation expenses.

According to Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s guidelines, transportation should be about 15% of your expenditures.

This year, I spent $4049 on transportation, or about 4%. Considering that I over shot housing by about 8% this year, it’s totally reasonable that I underspend in this category. In her guidelines, Housing plus Transportation equal about 50% of your spending. In my case, I come in at 47%. Not bad. Folks in urban centers may find themselves in a similar situation: housing is costly, transportation is chaotic and expensive to own a car, so folks depend on public transportation and car sharing/car rental services. My friends from the suburbs are still dumbfounded that I’ve been without a car for 16 months. Sometimes, so am I!

Where’d the $4,049 go?

Public Transportation & Parking: $2609. Most of this is Public Transportation (TTC largely, a few cabs), there’s likely less than $50 in parking in there!  In Toronto, there are no school buses to take kids to school. My youngest is in Grade 12, and we live 6 km from her High School. On nice days, she does walk.  Most of the time, however, she takes the TTC bus to school. We pay for her student Metropass. Additionally, my eldest now commutes to and from her full-time job, using TTC. She and I share the cost of an adult Metropass. When there’s a Metropass available, I use it to transport myself to my part-time gig with Weight Watchers. Otherwise, I use a token to pay my way. It adds up, doesn’t it?

Car rental: $991. Thank you AutoShare for making sure I can take treks up north to visit family and friends, or to just collect a big haul at the grocery store and not have to carry it home.

Fuel: $374. Still have to put gas in those rental cars.

License renewal: $75.

Early this year, I was really torn with the idea of owning my own car. Many of you helped talk me off the ledge. Even if I had a car, I would not escape the cost of Public Transportation. (I’m not going to become Mom’s Taxi if I own a car). With the insurance alone for a five year old model being about $250 a month ($3,000/year), it’s easy to see now why I didn’t make the move.

I’ve also been torn over a desire (not a need) to purchase either an electric bike or an small motorized scooter, like a Vespa. As I look ahead to 2011 I think this will continue to be a want. Even now, the store that sells electric bikes in my neighbourhood is going out of business and having a December liquidation sale. As I peered through the window on Boxing Day, I saw the model I really liked sitting on the floor still. I’m sure I’ll be in there this week taking a look at it again.

In recent months, I’ve started charging my eldest for half the cost of an adult Metropass each month (or $55). I was presuming that we’d share it, and I’d have access to it almost any time I needed it to go to WeightWatchers. In the last month, it’s rarely available when I need it. I’m considering getting two adult metropasses (rather than one student, one adult) for a few extra bucks a month, to save me from purchasing extra tokens when my eldest is working late.

One of my budgeting flaws in 2010 was not budgeting for the cost of car rental and fuel.  So, every expense I made in this regard became an over expenditure. I know – I was delusional. At any rate, my 2011 budget has 200 per month set aside for car rental/fuel. If I can manage to shave $165 off my car rental expenditures in 2011, I’ll have balanced the books. In 2010, my rental property was vacant for a while, and I made a number of trips to Barrie and back. This year, it promises to be vacant again (as my tenants will vacate in the Spring), but I’m hopeful I won’t need to make near as many trips.

Tomorrow – LIFE! (prepare yourself, it’s expensive!)


4 responses to this post.

  1. That is really low for a year’s worth of transportation – yes, my car insurance is about half of your transportation amount! then there’s gas, maintenance, wear and tear, parking and YIKES! it’s damn expensive. Our only alternative in London is the city bus or taxi. I wish we had access to street cars and subway and buses but our population just couldn’t sustain them:( It’s wonderful how your transportation balances out your housing with the result of being under the 50% mark!


  2. I guess it really is low, isn’t it Jane? Seems funny how I obsessed over renting cars, and thinking about how it was adding up. Worrying about taking the odd cab if I was late for something.

    Week by week and month by month, I hadn’t budgeted enough for this category. Now, in the annual “big picture” analysis, I see that all is well here. Which is good, because my Housing and Life slices of pie are pretty darned FAT. Something needs to be low-cal!


  3. I love how you kept track so well! I’d love for you to do a post on how you kept track, any tips you have to share, etc… i’ll be sure to check in tomorrow! LIFE is always our most “expensive” cost too!


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