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Page 2: Living: The Car.

If you live in a city, you probably do not need a car. But do you really need it if you live out in the sticks? We all managed without them a few decades ago but we rely on them now. Our society has evolved around them. They are fun, gorgeous and on everyones wish list.

"My car is like an extension of my personality, right? Its my pride and joy...."


Please read on.

They cost a FORTUNE to run! On average about £10 per day, £300 per month. Before you head for the Feedback page cruising for a bruising, let me show you how much it costs to run a small car for 10,000 miles a year:

  • Fuel @ 8 miles/litre @ 86p/litre: £1075
  • Loan costs @say 13 percent p.a. of £3000: £390
  • Depreciation, on, say, a 2 year old Astra: £1500
  • Insurance, typical: £300
  • Car Tax: £160
  • Servicing/MOT, typical: £250
  • Tyres, typical: £50
  • Accessories and sundries: £100
  • Motoring Club Membership, typical: £60

  • Total: £3885

Add to this miserable list some optional extras:

  • How about the cost of having your car vandalised or broken into or stolen. The cost of most smashed windows and thefts from cars are borne by the motorist, afraid to lose their No Claims Discount. When the cost of the damage is so great that a claim has to be made the motorist again foots the bill by paying increased insurance premiums over the next 5 years until their full discount is restored.
  • Unfortunately, accidents also happen resulting in a similar increase of insurance premium. Not only should the cost of not having a No Claims Discount be taken into account but motorists have to provide details of any previous claims to potential new insurers, by law, resulting in even higher premiums.
  • Cars in the example quoted above would be typically a 2 years old small family hatchback which one would expect to be reliable and covered by a manufacturers warranty but cars still break down. Our typical 2 year old hatchback is outside its warranty. Most motorists have had to replace a light bulb. Some have had to replace beefier parts. If our engine blows a gasket so does our bank account. Again this is another potential cost that many motorists have to put up with. And the older the car, the costlier the mechanical repairs.
  • Cars have become unwelcome in city and town centres. Councils, fed up with the constant congestion have increased parking fees and introduced innovative window cards that have the happy by-product of boosting the council coffers. Some councils are considering city centre zones where drivers pay to enter. Many households now have two or three cars outside their homes, unable to fit into too small garages, they spill out of driveways and choke the almost miniature streets of modern estates. If you have a parking permit for your home, how many cars does it allow and how near your home is the permitted space? When we chance it and avoid the high parking costs or the appropriate street road markings, we'll eventually be fined. If we cross certain bridges, we pay almost as much as a parking fine by way of a toll. Some restricted areas have wheel clamping teams on the prowl ready to hit where it hurts: In the wallet. When you finally get moving don't you dare break the speed limit. Cameras and radar guns are everywhere these days eager to fine the speed merchant motorist. Thats not all the police will fine you for either. The law compels motorists to drive responsibly and keep cars up to minimum standards've guessed it...they'll be fined. Or worse.

Add to the costs the sheer stress involved in driving around in the Naughties, the sleepless nights worrying whether your car is becoming a crime statistic, the trauma of being involved in accidents. Don't forget the inhalation of carcinogenic toxic fumes while you drive and the permanent damage being done to the countryside by roadbuilding and to the air we breathe.

Please read on.

At Money Surgery, we recognise that modern cars and motorcycles are indeed a wonderful means of travel. We recognise how rewarding driving can be. But the cost is too great when we are struggling with debts or loans. They represent one of the fundamental "Give It Up" symbols of the philosophy of Money Surgery. Ironically, we have to unshackle ourselves from our cars in order to take control of our money. Weren't we led to believe that the car made us freer?

By all means get a nice car if you have to... AFTER you eliminate your debts.

Please read on.

AA's Top Tips

(15:30 Sunday 10th July 2005 news story)

The Automobile Association is suggesting that drivers put their car on a diet to help save money as petrol prices soar to record levels. "Ditch the roof rack", they say, "and clear out boots to make cars lighter and save on fuel in the face of rising petrol prices." The AA also remind us to keep tyres properly inflated and to plan routes in advance to avoid hold-ups and to save fuel.

Worthy suggestions these may be but the AA has a vested interest in ensuring that as many people as possible continue to drive cars. That might be why they don't dare suggest that people reconsider the viability of driving at all. Ditching the car will save on fuel considerably. It will also save on driving association subscriptions. In fact, it will save about four thousand pounds every year.

Are you ready, I mean really ready, to save money on driving? Then listen to Money Surgery, not the AA. We have no bias, no sponsors, and no (yellow)vested interests.

Bluetooth Headsets

(22:00 Friday 20th May 2005 news story)

Are you sick of seeing drivers wearing bluetooth headsets? One of our Patients is. Though there aren't that many bluetooth headsets about, and they keep hands free for driving which is a great safety idea, our anonymous Patient wants them to be so miniaturised as to be unnoticable, so he doesn't notice them. He has a theory that drivers who wear bluetooth headsets can "look a bit swanky", whatever that means. At least I think that was what he said. Safe, clever, adopting modern technology in a practical way, but "swanky". It upsets him.

Why do people fork out for things that make them look like this? They say that the Smart car is iconic. We say that the term "Smart car" is ironic. Subtle difference. You can hear the Smart car owners now, my ears are burning. "Yeah, well I can park my car at right angles to the kerb." Big Deal. No offence to disabled people but Smart cars, even the roadster to a lesser extent, has an air of "car for the disabled" about them. They are throwbacks to those sky-blue three wheelers of the early seventies which were designed purely for disabled use. (Ask your Dad). "Yeah, but Money Surgery should promote Smart cars as a cheaper "smart" alternative". What's "smart" about driving half a car, which makes you look ridiculous, which handles like a tesco trolley, and costs the best part of 10-grand new? Wanna save money on driving? Then see here.

Someone came into the Surgery the other day moaning about his expensive new T-shirt. "Oh, it smells funny, and it's noisy", he whined. "And sometimes there's acrid smoke coming out the back of it." One look at the label confirmed that it was a Diesel. So don't burn my ears about how Money Surgery should promote diesels, either. The miles-per-gallon money saving advantage over petrol cars is negligible, when you look at the whole picture.

Good luck to those international superstars battling it out tomorrow on the world stage like true sportsmen, in one of the oldest, most celebrated of tournaments. No not the FA Cup Final, but the Eurovision final. Good luck to Royaume-Uni. In any event, don't gamble on either event. In-fact doing something else instead of watching either event would probably be wise.

Can Drivers Afford To Take The Bus?

(Sunday 27th February 2005 news story)

Motoring is cheaper than in 1975, according to government figures.
It may come as a shock but the cost of running a car, in real terms, is 11% less than 30 years ago. This includes all the bills associated with motoring, like insurance, car tax and petrol. Meanwhile, train fares have gone up 600% and bus fares more than doubled.

This underlines the fact that there is little incentive in this country to give up your car and adopt more environmentally-friendly and less congestive methods of transport. As well as the purchase price being less than in 1975 for comparable cars, the cost of petrol is virtually identical to its cost in 1975.

Driving is still expensive though. We've devoted a page to it. It costs about 4 grand a year, which equates to about £60,000 over ten years. Add this to what you save from not smoking and you'll have £100,000 in 2015. This 100 grand will buy just 800 standard train tickets for Cardiff to London and back.

Consider all the available methods of transport carefully in advance, bearing in mind that walking and cycling is extremely debt-busting. When on the road to debt-freedom, the phrase "cut out your car, cut out your debts" is as relevant in 2005 as it was in 1975. And even though they've stopped selling Hillman Avengers and the New Mini is nice, computer still says no.

An Oilternative?

(Thursday 27th March 2003 news story)

Oil companies and car makers are backing the view that hydrogen will be the successor to oil in the coming decades. The drive towards a hydrogen future was given a real boost when President George Bush unveiled a development plan, worth 1.7bn dollars, in his State of the Union address, to help the US lead the world in developing clean hydrogen-powered automobiles.

Now just weeks after that commitment comes a significant partnership between General Motors (GM) and Shell to provide a taste of the future. GM says it will provide a fleet of six fuel-cell Zafira mini vans at 1m dollars each for people to test drive while Shell will install hydrogen pumps at one of its Washington gas stations. The companies say they expect about 10,000 people to ride in the vehicles over the next two years. Shell Hydrogen chief executive Donald Huberts said his company wants to demonstrate the practical and everyday use of hydrogen fuel.

In hydrogen vehicles, an electric motor powers the wheels. A chemical reaction inside a unit called a fuel cell - usually between hydrogen and oxygen - creates electricity for the motor. The only emission is water vapour - although depending on how the hydrogen is generated, some air pollution may occur during the production process. Some believe with the right commitment and investment, hydrogen cars could be ubiquitous in as little as 10 years.

At a time when the price of oil is slipping ever higher, an alternative fuel is going to find favour very easily. The crisis in Iraq has provoked many to comment that the American-led forces are motivated by the need to protect access to Iraqi oil. The same people are likely to welcome any alternative fuel that reduces the worlds dependance on oil if that prevents such conflicts.

Car Insurance Cheap...In the Orkneys

(Monday 26th November 2001 news story)

The place in Britain with the lowest car insurance is, not surprisingly, the most remote: The Orkneys. Sounding a little like some ancient West country term for a human body part, the Orkneys, and other remote Scottish locations, are cheapest to insure according to a survey done by the AA.

Don't confuse the Orkneys with Cockneys, either. Londoners have to fork out the most when it comes to covering the car. The survey puts Orkney at an average of £231 and London at £480. Nationally, car insurance has gone up 9% over the last year. This might be the last straw for a few drivers and any disgruntled motorists might be contemplating relocating to the Orkneyan capital, Kirkwall. more jams, no more urban decay, no more vandalism and grafitti. Cars are fun. Cars allow you to go wherever you want whenever you want. You have to have one, it seems, but the motorist gets taxed, fined, charged and plundered until he or she becomes shackled. How can we break free of this expensive necessity. There is an alternative...

Ever considered selling your car and not buying another? It makes perfect sense, especially if you are in debt and live in a large town or city. Journey times can be quicker by bike, cheaper by bus. You don't need to park anything or worry about anyone stealing anything. Cars, the great freedom symbol of Century 20 are pinning us down.

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