Examine Your Transportation Options

How do you get to work? It’s a simple question with large ramifications on your finances. A lot of it depends on where you choose to live and whether your California town or city offers reliable public transportation, well-groomed paths for walkers and bikers, or affordable parking options.

When you move out on your own, chances are your budget is fairly tight. Beyond finances, you may choose your transportation mode based on health, social and environmental reasons, or because of practicality. A car (with all its maintenance costs) may be a necessity in Bay Area suburbs, but a hindrance in larger urban areas due to lack of parking.

If you need a car to commute, Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds offer tools to help you calculate the true cost of owning a specific vehicle beyond its purchase price. Additionally, these sites show you what a specific vehicle is worth to give you a better sense of what you should pay for it.

With public transportation, the money you save might outweigh the convenience and cost of owning a vehicle. It’s important to take a close look at all the factors involved. If you have children, parents or pets who may need you in an emergency, you might want to jump in a car rather than wait for the next scheduled bus, train or subway.

If you live in a bicycle-friendly location in the Bay Area, getting around on two wheels is a great way to avoid traffic, exercise your muscles and experience your surroundings from a different perspective. You also could enjoy some potentially huge savings when you bike or walk. BicycleUniverse offers an interesting calculator to determine how much money you’ll save by not owning a car. This calculator also factors in trips taken by bus, cab or car share services, too.

A lot of people will need a car from time to time and can’t give up ownership altogether. If you’re one of them, you’ll still have to pay insurance, fees and taxes on the car even if you use it part time. But you will save some money and enjoy other benefits if you can find ways to drive less.