Should You Make A Car Purchase Or Take Public Transportation?

by Lorie L. on January 5, 2011

Planning to buy a car? Find out if you really need to.

The biggest status symbols for the previous generation include cars. Not only are they tools to help you get from point A to point B easily, they can also be luxury items that let you brag to the world how far you’ve come and how much money you have. Cars are a top priority for most families. Next to a house, they are among the top 3 most expensive acquisitions that a family or an individual can make. But according to this Yahoo! Autos article, Gen Y, or the population of people under 30, pass up cars in favor of gadgets and digital purchases. Interesting!

According to the Yahoo article, it’s not because the people from Gen Y cannot afford the cars. It’s just that, for them, traveling by car is a waste of resources because they can probably squeeze in time to work as they commute. Driving requires you to be mindful of your surroundings and puts your safety in your own hands. On the other hand, taking public transportation leaves you free to read any reports or to check your e-mails while you’re en route to your destination.

Both choices do have their pros and cons, and you need to evaluate each of them before deciding whether to buy a car or not.

Making A Car Purchase

Pros: Cons:
Convenient A car could set you back a few thousand dollars, adding to your bills or debt
You can drive directly to your destination, without relying on any specific stops Gas is costly, and parking can be a challenge
You don’t need to deal with other people, as you would with public transportation If your car breaks down, it’s much more inconvenient
Flexible, as you can get to where you want to go at your own your pace; no need to follow commute routes Repairs are costly
Depending on the model you purchase, it rocks as a status symbol Cars diminish in value the moment you drive one out of the dealer’s garage

Taking Public Transportation

Pros: Cons:
If you have a Blackberry or a mobile device capable of reading e-mail and other office documents, you can catch up on work on the train or the bus Dealing with weirdos on the bus or the train
You can sleep while you travel There is a risk of being mugged or having your pockets picked, depending on your neighborhood
You can space out and detach from life as you observe other people Seeing and needing to push through all those other people, compete with them for seats, etc., could be pretty stressful
You can meet other people A bad commute, from rerouted trains to terrible traffic or transport strikes, could be a bad day-starter
It’s a lot less costly than owning a car If you sleep too long on the bus or train, you could miss your stop

In addition to all these, you also need to consider your location. Are there public transportation options in your area? If you live in a fairly remote neighborhood a good distance from the town proper, then having a car is your best bet, if only to help you get around the area and also to take you to the nearest train or bus station or carpool site. If the stations are just a few minutes’ walk away and if your street doesn’t provide much room for parking, then go for public transportation instead.

The bottom line is, what do you really value? If you value being able to save, if you like being able to squeeze in more work as you travel to your office, then public transport is the way to go. But if you find that dealing with a throng of people every single day is a stressful thing that’s not worth your savings, then getting a car would probably be a better decision. If you need help in figuring out how to squeeze in your car payments into your budget, here is a good financial budgeting software review. Also, if you need to figure out how to afford a car purchase, here is some information on how to get car financing.

Juggle your budget, take out a loan, save for the car purchase, it’s all up to you. The bottom line is, whether it’s a car or public transport, the point is to choose what’s best for you.

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