I read an interesting article recently, by financial journalist Merryn Somerset Webb, which explored a cheaper way of 'owning' a second car. At the heart of her article was the occasional inconvenience of only having one car, especially when trying to ferry children around.
Upon looking at the economics of buying a second car, once the cost of insurance, an annual MOT, servicing, car taxes, repairs etc are factored in the annual running costs are well in excess of £1,500 a year. And that's before you look at the cost of actually buying another car! Also don't forget when you hire a car you wont have to clean it or pay parking charges (I personally have to pay £30 a year for a resident's parking permit where I live).
Now instead the author looked into what would be the cost of hiring a smarter version of her own diesel Passat for the day. The answer was £33 - all in.
So it begs the question how often do you really need a second car? Especially given that the average car lies unused for 23 hours of the day. Based on running costs alone (and the figures above) it would only be worth owning a second car if the situations which dictate the necessity to have one occur more than once a week. Factor in the cost buying a second car and you need to be getting regular use out of it over an extended period of time before it makes financial sense to buy one.
What about if you want to commute to work by car?
Some of you may be saying at this point, "well I have to commute by car every day so that's no good for me". While the original article didn't have a direct answer to this objection, I do. If you apply a bit of creative thinking again you still might not need a car. Aside from public transport you could instead car share. Opting to car share, rather than drive yourself to and from work, is not only good for the environment but will also save you money. But the good news is that you don't have to have a car to take part and there are a number of websites that make finding someone to car share with easy. Read my article 'Car share online & cut the cost of commuting' to find out more.