Sunday, September 03, 2006


Kicking the Auto Addiction (book)
Contentment Without a Car

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, September 3, 2006; F01

. . .

Balish's mission is simple. He wants all of us to challenge the notion that we need a car. Most importantly, he says we all should reevaluate the cost of car ownership. . . .

Balish, a broadcast journalist who lives in Southern California, has been living without a car since 2003. He began his car-free existence after deciding to sell his $36,000 Toyota Sequoia SUV because of its gas addiction. . . . "I was actually angry with myself for never sitting down before this to figure out how much money I was spending on my car," he said.

In the three years he's been without a car, Balish said he's saved $36,926.

Here's how he broke it down for me:

· $17,822 in car payments

· $5,054 in car insurance premiums

· $8,400 in gas

· $3,600 in parking (at work and at home)

· $1,800 in repairs

· $250 in car washes and oil changes

"With that money I paid off all my credit cards, a personal loan, and became debt-free for the first time in my adult life," he said.

The average annual cost to own a car is $8,410, including car payments, insurance, gas, oil, car washes, fees, taxes, parking and repairs, Balish reports. The average American spends 18 cents of every dollar earned on transportation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2003 Consumer Expenditure Survey.

There are other reasons to go car-free. Balish, who is 39 and single, said his social life actually improved. . . .

If you are interested in discussing this month's book selection, join me online at at noon on Sept. 28. Balish will be my guest.

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