Before COVID-19 we looked at commuting through a much different lense of relative and reasonable safety in the daily routine. Now we see rideshare drivers and passengers donning masks and riding relatively quietly. In most major cities like New York, mass transit is cheap enough to ride to and from school and work every day. Yet NYC is one of the hardest hit C-19 states because its unknowing residents widely used its efficient trains and buses.
Before the pandemic social media was flooded with citizens taking public safety in their own hands. They were being proactive in getting messages to young women and their villages with instructional stay safe videos. Tips on avoiding and being aware of sex trafficking kidnappings in broad, day-to-day life.
On the heels of the human trafficking epidemic, unaccompanied ride sharing was promptly curtailed for my 14 YO daughter (riders are supposed to be 18 and older, but I had to do what I had to do). The thought was we didn’t know how thorough and how often driver background checks were completed and I was not leaving that elusive safety measure to chance. Instead of using Uber and Lyft for Carrington, I opted for the more expensive (unless you carpooled with other families) car service Hop Skip Drive. It helped to bridge scheduling and transportation gaps as a single parent. The draw to use the HSD app was that it was created by moms who thoroughly vetted their drivers, oftentimes who were themselves moms or grandparents. Not to mention she felt extra cared for when the HSD driver would wait for her outside the car.
Now that I have a rising high schooler I’m looking at her transportation needs in a different light. Safety, independence, meeting up with friends at the train station, and maybe a car in 2021. We just discussed getting driving lessons. And how timely. By 15 every girl and boy in my mother’s house was taking manual and automatic driving classes and sat for their test, yeah I passed the first time around, snagged their permit and eventually their license by age 16/17.
Regardless of the ever-changing social context, personal finance topics are based on much slower-to-change mathematics and fundamental economics principles that I mostly follow as a student of Dave Ramseyand Lynn Richardson. They both support making debt a part of your past and decreasing lifestyle choices that will get you to debt elimination at warp speed. Delve into the tools below to determine which choice may be right for your family.
Depending on where you live, the availability of mass transit, the average cost of using ridesharing full-time versus the average cost of a used car, insurance, fuel prices, maintenance, parking, potential tickets and the mass introduction of autonomous car fleets is a personal finance decision that may surprise you when researching savings versus expenses.
Business Insider reported that millennials spent an average of $110 a month on Uber in San Francisco, where it’s more expensive because its headquarters are there. In 2016 The Federal Highway Administration did a study that showed a continuous decrease in 16 to 44 year-olds who do not have a driver’s license. In 1983 91.8% of this group had a license, in 2014 76.7% of this group had a license.
Once autonomous cars roll out, Business Insider expects ridesharing to decrease to less than a dollar per hour because paying drivers and their related costs will no longer be the major line item that it is, on the loss side of the profit and loss statement.
For Your Consideration, Time
Time is the one thing we can never replace. Income on the other hand is our greatest tool for wealth-building. If you place high value on your time, meaning you’d rather swap the time it takes to endure long waits in traffic, park, valet, or begging a meter maid (do they still call them that?) to not ticket you or have you towed, to work on a paper, assignment, rest or respond to email, ridesharing might be a better option. Factor in if you drive less than 10K miles annually, a car may not be the best bet for you, said Business Insider.
Use This Tool
Rideordrive.org is a really cool and useful calculator to help families understand the dollars and sense of their unique situation. Plug in basic vehicle and income information and it will yield easy-to-read and understand 10-year projection costs based on time and your hourly worth. I learned that over 10 years I could save well over $60 grand by ridesharing. A huge need-to, and nice- to-know to make an informed decision.
Drive Me Til I’m all Used Up
If you choose to buy a car, Dave Ramsey is a personal finance guru who has built an empire on tested applicable steps to getting out of and avoiding debt like the plague. Some highlights of this 17-minute read on buying a used vehicle, which makes a lot of sense are:
- Buy used, not new. Cars are not an investment, they almost instantly depreciate in value.
- Set a budget for your spend. Avoid tangling what could be disposable income in a car payment. Shell out somewhere between $3 and $5K, do your research on that car without all of the bells and whistles, negotiate and pay with cash.
- Cash can still be a reliable bargaining chip and helps you to avoid a car payment that will eat up your finances (that could be used for quicker debt elimination or savings).
One very interesting study that Dave and his team did was they looked at the financial behavior of 10K millionaires and most of the millionaires drove a 4YO vehicle with at least 40K miles on it. Millionaires tend to keep their money growing by putting it where it will actually bloom, and it’s not in a car unless they consciously want to afford the loss.
A Car-Buying Gauge
If you purchase a highly-effective car, such as a hybrid, or one that returns 30 or more miles per gallon, and that costs less than $25K and you plan to drive it more than 15 thousand miles a year, until the wheels literally fall off, Business Insider believes the cost-savings lands on the side of owning a car.
There’s a lot to consider on what your teen’s daily commute will look like as states and the globe begin to reopen. My daughter’s high school is still planning what the fall semester will look like for the class of 2024 and I’m still mulling over the safest and most cost-effective way to get her to school and to her other obligations, while fulfilling mine. Whichever road you take, budget is not a dirty word. As Lynn says, it’s simply scheduling your money so it’s not overbooked.
COVID has definitely made the world a more complex place but as parents we get to work with these bright minds to build a workable and affordable plan where they feel safe and where this rite of passage into adulthood is grounded in parameters that work for everyone involved.