As many of you know, I live car-lite, not car-free. Yet. (We're working on it.) Accordingly, Monday was the day for me to go take care of the ritual sacrifice at the altar of AAA and DMV to ensure my vehicular operations, such as they are, comply with all local and state regulations. Namely, smog check, insurance and registration.
I don't have a car payment. My car was a gift to me for my 18th birthday. (Thanks, mom!) Even still, a "free" car costs a considerable chunk of our meager college-student income. This year's sacrifice was a little over $700. This is nothing extravagant- 1 smog test, 1 AAA membership (we decided to cancel the wife's card, as she doesn't drive), the cheapest liability-only auto insurance we could find, and $129 to the friendly DMV man. Some readers will point out that $700 really is rather low, comparatively speaking, for my yearly auto regulatory costs.
I will point out that $700, just one year's car costs, is enough to buy a sweet new folding bicycle, or 14 months of general 30-Day bus passes under the new fare structure. (More on that later.) It would also amount to around three months of our household food budget, six months of the cell phone bill, and a year's Internet bill. And, of course, this figure only counts the bare minimum it takes to legally park a car on a public street. To run it, you have to add in gas, maintenance, repairs, car washes, fast food, etc. I keep these operations costs to a minimum, but that doesn't change the fixed costs one bit.
How much is your car costing you?