Author Topic: Who can do the simple commuting math for me?  (Read 2414 times)

Janelle

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Who can do the simple commuting math for me?
« on: January 25, 2015, 09:58:21 AM »
So I’m looking for someone who can do the simple math that might help me decide whether to switch cars.

A little background…My SO and I live close enough to our work that we bike every day. We also live close enough to our local grocers and other “around town” needs, so we rarely use our car. Recently, however, I started graduate school, and my SO started his bachelor’s degree. This has required us to commute to the college in the next city over. The car we have is a rather thirsty Chevy Silverado. We only have the one car, and have kept it because it’s long been paid for and is convenient to have when friends/family have a once in a while truck hauling need.

With this new commute though, we’ve been thinking about trading it in for something smaller and more gas efficient, maybe a Prius or Honda CRZ that can get 35-40mpg. We’ve been trying to decide if it’s worth it, and just need someone to help out with the math…

So, the commute round trip is ~100miles. We will do the drive 14 times per month for 30 more months (after which we will both be done with school). The current car gets ~18mpg (ouch!). The new car would hopefully get 35 minimum (I’m taking suggestions on this too!). Gas here runs roughly $2.80/gallon at the moment. I have $10,000 in cash to devote to this without taking out a loan, although I would really prefer not to spend that much. We figure we could get maybe $4,000 out of the Chevy, but not too sure.

Any other variables I’m not thinking of? How cheap would a new car need to be to make this deal worth doing?

For the record, I looked into just moving to the city, but it looks like rent would double and in my line of work, I’d be taking a significant pay cut.

pagoconcheques

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Re: Who can do the simple commuting math for me?
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2015, 10:25:01 AM »
You're talking about 42,000 miles.  In the Silverado at 18mpg (sounds optimistically high), that's 2,333 gallons.  If you double your mpg to 36 with an economy car you'll only need 1,167 gallons.  You'll need to pick some reference value for gasoline--I can't know where prices are going, but my guess is that they will drop a bit more until about September then head back up.  I'm going to use $3.30 a gallon for the average over those 30 months:

Silverado: $7,698
econobox: $3,849
SAVINGS:  $3,849

I always assume I'll spend $1,000 in repairs on a used car in the first year or so, that takes your savings down to $2,849 (though it doesn't account for repairs to the Silverado which can't be that new if it's only worth 4k). 

If you get 4k for the Silverado, you can spend $6,849 on the replacement and break even over the 30 months and go into your post-studies life with a more economical car. 

I'd probably budget about $5k for the replacement car or a little more and look for a car with not much more than 75,000 miles on it. 

Given the rush back to SUVs and pickups with low gas prices, this is actually a good time to sell something like a Silverado and buy something economical.  As they say, YMMV. 

Janelle

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Re: Who can do the simple commuting math for me?
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2015, 10:38:57 AM »
The Chevy is a 2005 with a salvage title. It runs really well, but given the title, $4000 might even be a high estimate...? It has 150,000 miles on it, but hasn't needed any major work since it was fixed after it was totaled.

The 18mpg estimate might also be high, I don't know. That's the number my SO gave me.
Thanks for the suggestion! It sounds like you think it's a go.

MDM

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Re: Who can do the simple commuting math for me?
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2015, 12:37:32 PM »
Haven't checked the calculations but http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/spreadsheet-gurus-and-mathy-people-check-my-work-(commute-math)/ has a downloadable spreadsheet that seems to fit the question.

andy.LtD

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Re: Who can do the simple commuting math for me?
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2015, 03:16:47 PM »
I would buy a motorcycle, my Suzuki V twin 650 gets always 60mpg upto 70 mpg, no queuing or parking charges. Pick up a nice usable example for $1500+

pagoconcheques

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Re: Who can do the simple commuting math for me?
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2015, 06:38:50 AM »
The Chevy is a 2005 with a salvage title.  . . . It has 150,000 miles on it.

It's probably worth very little.  Given the low cost of gas right now, it might make more sense to keep it until it dies and save to buy the replacement vehicle. Don't spend money fixing it when it does break down.