Does it still make sense to own a car? Let’s find out…

So, I was recently figuring out whether it still makes sense to own a car in South Florida in a world where Uber & Lyft are so quick to give us a ride?

SPOILER ALERT: If you drive less than 9,000 miles per year, then sell your car. If you drive between 9,000-10,000 miles per year, then it is a wash. If you drive more than 10,000 miles a year, then keep it and use Dave Ramsey’s free car for life method.

For many of us who work from home or many seniors who live in the South Florida area, we may not drive as much as others who are driving to and from work. Many South Floridians lease their vehicles or grossly underuse their personal car. With car ownership comes many expenses; loan payment, oil changes, insurance, parking, tolls, repairs, new tires, etc.

But what if you ditched your car and put that money to work in the stock market or into a savings account which you used to pay for your Uber/Lyft rides? And once a month rent a car for a long weekend for your longer excursions.

So, let’s break it down. Keep in mind, these are general figures as sometimes traffic will be heavier or lighter, car prices are different for all and gas prices change often.

COSTS OF A LYFT AND CAR RENTAL

A rider in a Lyft going from Delray Beach to Fort Lauderdale Airport will pay around $40, including tip, for a regular Lyft ride (you can save more by choosing a “shared” ride). This comes to about 83 cents per mile for a 45-minute ride. The fare is heavily weighted toward the number of miles in a trip and the time is a small portion of the fare (about 26 cents a minute). There are potential other fees (platform fee, tolls, service fee, minimum fees, etc.) so, whereas the cost per mile and the time portion add up to about $1.09 per mile, the real figure will come in at around $1.14 per mile. At $1.14 per mile and driving of the course of a year to the tune of 9,000 miles, the total cost comes in at $10,260/year for your Lyft rides. Then, let’s say you want to travel once a month out of the area, so you want to rent a car. That will come in at around $120/month or $1,440/year. When added to your Lyft rides we come in at $11,700 total ground transportation costs. This is a high figure because if you are smart, you will use rewards programs offered by credit cards and internal company rewards; you will not pay as much because you will be getting dozens of free Lyft rides as well as several free days of car rentals. But that is a blog post for another day as I am a rewards junkie for which rehab is not needed.

So, how much does it cost to own and operate an average car in South Florida and is it less than the $11,700/year we found using Lyft and occasional car rentals?

COSTS OF OWNING AND OPERATING A CAR

As of this writing, the average cost per gallon of regular gas is $2.54. The average car gets 23.6 miles per gallon these days. The average car purchase would come in at around $30,000 and after 5 years will be worth approximately $20,000 ($167/month depreciation) — if you are fortunate. According to NerdWallet.com, the average person is spending $500/month on car loan payments. This seems excessive and in my example, I would say the monthly car payment would be around $350/month. Since we are assuming this is a new car, maintenance will be minimal for the first few years and will escalate over time; but let’s average it down to about $34/month over the full five years. Insurance in South Florida runs about $1,185 per year.

Many of these expenses can be mitigated or exaggerated depending upon one’s own personal circumstances. For example, one could buy a new Tesla and while the maintenance costs would be near zero and have no expense for gas and oil, it would have much higher acquisition costs. On the other side, one could buy a used car for $20,000, escaping some of the depreciation costs, but they will tend to have higher maintenance and fuel costs — especially if they purchase an SUV or truck. One may have perfect credit while another will have poor credit, greatly affecting their acquisition costs and insurance costs. The point of this exercise is to average things out.

The fuel costs come in at a little more than 39 cents per mile and over 9,000 miles during the year amounts to $3,543. Now we add in the monthly costs above (maintenance, depreciation, insurance, parking, tolls, cost of purchase, etc.) and we come to a final total of $11,340 per year.

CONCLUSION

If one is driving less than 9,000 miles per year, ditch the car, use Uber/Lyft and seek out the wide array of rewards programs available to drive down your costs even more. If you drive between 9,000-10,000 miles it is pretty much a wash financially. If you drive over 10,000 each year, then get a quality used fuel efficient, low maintenance car and pocket the savings over owning a gas guzzling, high maintenance truck. Use this link to get a free Lyft ride on me!

The question an ultra-low mileage per year car owner needs to ask themselves is do I want to get rid of the convenience and freedom car ownership provides by ditching the car to save money? Those savings could be put into an interest-bearing account or growing in a brokerage account, increasing one’s net worth while not having to deal with the hassles of car ownership. With a Lyft or Uber usually less than 5 minutes away, perhaps it may be a good idea to ditch the car or at least get rid of a second car which is being underutilized.

It’s still a tough decision as most of us saw buying our first car as a right of passage and gave us a strong sense of freedom. It may be hard emotionally to go without a car, but for many, it may be a great idea. If you are going to keep your car or are thinking of buying a new car, I strongly urge you to use Dave Ramsey’s free car for life method of car ownership.

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Karl’s Permanent Portfolio / Net Worth Allocation

dollar-gold-money

This is a combined asset allocation model culminated from Harry Browne, Tony Robbins, Jim Rogers and my own experience. I have excluded most specifics with relation to my personal situation and generalized the plan for the general public. This, in my opinion, is a balanced and safe approach to managing one’s net worth. I am NOT a financial adviser and if you consider anything from below, you should consult with a tax adviser, investment adviser and/or your attorney to see if it is right for you.

UPDATE: I have created a permanent investment portfolio at this link.

Definitions:

  1. Financial Security: the amount of money that covers food, housing, cars, travel, and basic entertainment.
  2. Financial Independence: where one doesn’t have to work and everything is covered.
  3. Financial Freedom: where one doesn’t have to work and EVERYTHING ONE CAN THINK OF is covered.

There are essentially FOUR “Buckets” where you will have your net worth. Your Security Bucket, Growth Bucket, Dream Bucket, and your Maintenance Budget. More on the buckets in a bit.

MUSTS:

  • Build 24 months of cash reserve in your security bucket
  • Have durable Power of Attorney
  • Have a Will & Living Will & Advanced Medical Directive complete, signed & accessible
  • Have a decent amount of life insurance to cover expenses should you die (if needed)
  • Have enough medical insurance to cover your needs
  • Have Auto, Home & Insurance plus an umbrella liability policy
  • Sign up w/ Legal Shield and/or have excellent legal representation & consult a good tax advisor

Example of what to do with your extra income and money received unexpectedly: $1,000 received – put $500 in Security Bucket, $250 in the growth bucket, $185 in the maintenance budget, $65 in the dream bucket. Spend less than you earn and you will have money left over for this plan. Skip the $12 martini and the $6 latte and put that money to work for you the rest of your life.
Reinvest all dividends, profits & non-earned income from the following buckets & distribute the income equally to each bucket.

50% of Assets go into your Security Bucket
This is the place where you put money into investments that are secure by their nature. They won’t give you huge compounded return, but if you do it long enough, even if the initial return is small, in the long run that compounded return grows and is kept secure. Your first investments MUST be put into your security bucket. These assets are either owned Joint Tenants in the Entirety if married, or in another secure, asset protection vehicle such as a trust.

12% of Security Bucket – CASH (equivalent to 24 month’s expenses, though some may only want to have 6 months reserve)

  • 20% New Zealand Dollars
  • 20% Singapore Dollars
  • 20% Swiss Franc
  • 20% U.S. Dollars kept in a money market account OR physically in a secure location
  • 20% Bitcoin (annonymous, secure, portable)

20% of Security Bucket – Your personal home

15% of Security Bucket – Life Insurance (and make certain you have HSA health insurance covered as well)

48% of Security Budget into your IRA / SEP / Tax Free Retirement Vehicle(s)

5% Fixed Income Investments: Corporate Bonds, other taxable but high yielding investments

90% Rest in Misc. Investments: Real Estate (REIT or direct), BRK.a or BRK.b

25% of Assets go into your Growth Bucket
These assets should be held in an LLC or other asset protected (privacy) vehicle

  • 10% of Growth Bucket goes into an Aggressive Growth Mutual Fund(s)
  • 20% of Growth Bucket goes into Real Estate – Direct Investment into commercial, residential or land (if not enough money available, then a REIT)
  • 45% of Growth Bucket goes into Collectibles: 10% of the 45% in Art / 90% of the 45% in Gold/Silver via Scrap-Coins-Bullion (kept in secure location)
  • 25% of Growth Bucket is your own small business (reap the tax benefits while increasing its value and enjoying its income)

6.5% of Assets go into your Dream Bucket

These assets can be anything from cars, boats, planes, etc. This is literally your dream bucket when you put money aside to buy or you already own the toys in your life.

18.5% of Assets go into your Maintenance Budget/Bucket
This is your maintenance bucket which is to pay ALL of your expenses during the year for when you do not work or for when you retire. If you are retired, then this is the bucket which must generate enough income for you to live. This needs to generate income (preferably tax-free) to pay up to at least $X per year in expenses such as food, property taxes, travel, etc, etc.

Karl's Permanent Portfolio / Net Worth Allocation

dollar-gold-money

This is a combined asset allocation model culminated from Harry Browne, Tony Robbins, Jim Rogers and my own experience. I have excluded most specifics with relation to my personal situation and generalized the plan for the general public. This, in my opinion, is a balanced and safe approach to managing one’s net worth. I am NOT a financial adviser and if you consider anything from below, you should consult with a tax adviser, investment adviser and/or your attorney to see if it is right for you.

Definitions:

  1. Financial Security: the amount of money that covers food, housing, cars, travel, and basic entertainment.
  2. Financial Independence: where one doesn’t have to work and everything is covered.
  3. Financial Freedom: where one doesn’t have to work and EVERYTHING ONE CAN THINK OF is covered.

MUSTS:

  • Build 24 months of cash reserve in your security bucket
  • Have durable Power of Attorney
  • Have will & living will & Advanced Medical Directive complete, signed & accessible
  • Have a decent amount of life insurance to cover expenses should you die (if needed)
  • Have enough medical insurance to cover your needs
  • Have Auto, Home & Insurance plus an umbrella liability policy
  • Sign up w/ Legal Shield and/or have excellent legal representation & consult a good tax advisor

Example of what to do with your extra income and money received unexpectedly: $1,000 received – put $500 in Security Bucket, $250 in the growth bucket, $185 in the maintenance budget, $65 in the dream bucket. Spend less than you earn and you will have money left over for this plan. Skip the $12 martini and the $6 latte and put that money to work for you the rest of your life.
Reinvest all dividends, profits & non-earned income from the following buckets & distribute the income equally to each bucket.

50% of Assets go into your Security Bucket
This is the place where you put money into investments that are secure by their nature. They won’t give you huge compounded return, but if you do it long enough, even if the initial return is small, in the long run that compounded return grows and is kept secure. Your first investments MUST be put into your security bucket. These assets are either owned Joint Tenants in the Entirety if married, or in another secure, asset protection vehicle such as a trust.

12% of Security Bucket – CASH (equivalent to 24 month’s expenses, though some may only want to have 6 months reserve)

  • 20% New Zealand Dollars
  • 20% Singapore Dollars
  • 20% Swiss Franc
  • 20% U.S. Dollars kept in a money market account OR physically in a secure location
  • 20% Bitcoin (annonymous, secure, portable)

20% of Security Bucket – Your personal home

5% of Security Bucket – Life Insurance (and make certain you have HSA health insurance covered as well)

63% of Security Budget into your IRA / SEP / Tax Free Retirement Vehicle(s)

  • 10% Fixed Income Investments: Corporate Bonds, other taxable but high yielding investments
  • 90% Rest in Misc. Investments: Real Estate (REIT or direct), BRK.a or BRK.b

25% of Assets go into your Growth Bucket
These assets should be held in an LLC or other protected vehicle

  • 10% Aggressive Growth Mutual Fund(s)
  • 20% Real Estate – Direct Investment into commercial, residential or land
  • 45% Collectibles: 10% of the 45% in Art / 90% of the 45% in Gold/Silver via Scrap-Coins-Bullion (kept in secure location)
  • 25% Your own small business (reap the tax benefits while increasing its value and enjoying its income)

6.5% of Assets go into your Dream Bucket

These assets can be anything from cars, boats, planes, etc.

18.5% of Assets go into your Maintenance Budget/Bucket
This is your maintenance bucket which is to pay ALL of your expenses during the year for when you do not work or for when you retire. This needs to generate income (preferably tax-free) to pay up to at least $X per year in expenses such as food, property taxes, travel, etc, etc.