In February of this year, I started nearing 100,000km in my car. Which was to be expected (and my Honda hadn’t given me a day’s trouble), but this also meant my motor plan was coming to an end and I’d have to pay a premium for servicing my vehicle. After doing the math I decided to trade in on a new vehicle, however, this became a whole new math problem with the prices of cars having skyrocketed since I bought my Ballade three years prior. I honestly could not justify purchasing a new (or even used) vehicle at the prices available.

Ugh. More maths. This time round, I started calculating what it would cost me to move to a combination of Uber, the Gautrain, and the odd rental here and there. I must admit, I was surprised! Switching away from owning a car seemed to make financial sense.

How did I do this?

Firstly, I calculated when I actually needed a car in terms of both times of the day, and which days I need it; bearing in mind the Gautrain stops its service at around 21:00. A few times per month I attend classes in Rivonia until 21:00, so these times would require an Uber trip back to Centurion, which would be quite pricey per trip (around R280). I budgeted these in anyway.

Next, I looked at the train costs at different times. This move has required me to become a lot more structured in my day, particularly to make effective use of peak and off-peak travel times. Both the Gautrain and Uber have higher costs at peak times. I calculated when I could use the train as my primary mode of transport, and then would use it as such.

Lastly, I looked at what the best combinations would be between the two, and arranged my days accordingly. When I travel now, I hop on the train to the station closest to my desired destination, and then grab an Uber or the bus from there.

Having done the above for almost five months now, I can say that I am saving roughly 60% of what I was spending on owning a car. This includes all my train fares, Uber trips, as well as a tank of fuel per month for my wife’s car. For an additional saving, I have also linked my Discovery Vitality credit card to my Uber account – a change which gives me a 10% saving on all trips. An added bonus is I get Discovery miles for my spend as well. The benefits of Vitality are out of this world, but that’s another post all together.

The unexpecteds

With the whole move, there have been some totally unexpected changes. The first of which is the fact that I haven’t carried any cash in almost two months (as of the time of writing this). As it turns out, it would seem that the only reason I carried cash was to pay for parking and car guards. Incidentally, this also means that the cash I had in my wallet was burned through for the simple reason that it was just there. It’s amazing how you’ll find a reason to spend!

When I’m in a bind (there are times when my wife is using her car and it doesn’t make financial sense to use Uber), I have opted for renting a vehicle. This still works out cheaper than owning a car! Another great thing to find is that the driving service I use (BuDDys) is able to be used with any Europcar rental, which is awesome considering the Vitality benefits of renting with them! I’m a firm believer in not drinking and driving, so this made my day for the monthly winetasting events my wife and I organise over at SipSpeak. If you’re a gold status Vitality member, you immediately get 30% off any rental, which works out even cheaper than an Uber for the longer distance trips.

My fitness has also improved, as I’m walking a whole lot more. I can easily run a flight of stairs (which happens fairly often trying to catch a train on time) or walk longer distances – a great added benefit to my cardio regime!

There must be a catch

Indeed, there is a caveat to all of this. I do not have children, and my wife still has a car which I am able to use on rare occasions when she is not using it. We also live within walking distance of one of the Gautrain stations. Were these not the conditions in place, the maths would likely have been quite different, however given the savings I would probably still be in the clear budget wise for the additional trips. I shall leave it up to you to work out whether a change is viable. Remember to consider and factor in fuel, service intervals, insurance, parking, and any other incidentals you may pay for.

In the end, I am now paying about 30% of what I was paying to own a car, given the savings in insurance, servicing, tyres, tolls, and repayments. In fact, my total spend per month is lower than what my monthly repayments were before any of the other expenses! Why not consider the move yourself?

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