Thursday, May 25, 2006

An Expensive Convenience Item

A lot of folks in the pf blogging community have been talking about rising fuel prices. According to an article that I read this morning on, entitled 10 cities worst hit by rising gas prices, the average American family with two drivers will spend between $2,736 and $5, 772 this year on gas. Well, fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, as a single person who either walks or takes public transportation to work, the rising cost of fuel prices doesn't affect me very much.

What does affect me is the high cost of maintaining a car, especially in a metropolitan area like Chicago. When I purchased my condo two years ago, I had to pay $35,000 for a deeded parking spot. Admittedly, even if I didn't have a car, I probably would have purchased a parking spot anyway, because my realtor told me that it adds to the resale value of my condo. But on top of the purchase price, there's the property tax, to the tune of nearly a $700 a year. And then you have the cost of auto insurance at $866 per year, which is pretty darn expensive when you consider that I'm a 'leisure' driver (under 6,500 miles per year) with absolutely no traffic violations on my record. Then you have the $78 that I pay the State of Illinois to renew my license plates each year. And another $75 to the City of Chicago each year for a parking sticker. So, as you can see, it all starts to add up. And that's not including the routine costs of actually maintaining the car (e.g., oil change, brakes, tires, muffler, window wipers, belts, spark plugs, etc.) . Thankfully, other than the routine stuff and a small leak in a hose, my car has been relatively trouble free.

So, given the relatively high costs, why exactly do I own a car? I confess that it's purely for convenience. I live across the street from a bus stop. And it's only a 10 minute walk to the nearest grocery store. But my parents and several of my friends, as well as my church are all located out in the suburbs. Admittedly, I could take the metra train to visit family and friends or hitch a ride to church and church meetings if I needed to. And I do offer rides to other folks and carpool whenever possible. But honestly, I just enjoy the freedom of being able to hop in my car at any moment, at any time of the day and drive wherever I want or need to go.

In short, my car is my number one most expensive convenience item. And it has nothing to do with rising gas prices.

How about you? What's your most expensive convenience item?

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