Friday, May 11, 2007

Category 4: Transportation

Transportation is a mixed category for me. Some of the categories are fairly easy to track. I put all my gas purchases on one credit card, for instance. Others are more nebulous, like how many tolls I paid during my last 8 hour road trip. I can’t exactly pull over and whip out my laptop on the side of the road to record that immediately and by the time I’ve reached my destination the tolls all blend together in my head. Still, I’ve tried to subdivide this category into Car-Normal, Car-Maintenance, Public Transport, Special Transport, Tolls and Parking.

Car-Normal is just gas purchases. It doesn’t matter if the gas is just for getting to work or for driving two and a half hours to the airport for a trip. If I never really traveled, this would be a very small expense. I live 1.4 miles from work, the animal shelter I volunteer at is ~3 miles from home, the gym is 1 mile and the Walmart is ~4. The town ends after the Walmart. With the weather getting nicer, I’m trying to walk to the gym more and will take up walking to work when the mornings are less chilly. I try to only go grocery shopping once a week and generally only go to volunteer once a week. As a reference, since I got gas a week ago, I’ve driven less than 30 miles. If I never had to leave town, I could probably go for more than 2 months on one tank of gas. Unfortunately, this is not the case, so I do spend more than that on gas. Last month included a trip from my Western PA town to Boston, while this month will involve a drive to the Pittsburg airport and a road trip to DC. All told, I usually spend less than $120 on gas, but that could change with rising prices.

Car-Maintenance is intended to cover normal maintenance cost. Last month I got an oil change. This month I got my once yearly carwash to scour the bottom of my car for road salt. It will probably include a good vacuum in the future, and perhaps some touch-up paint. This would probably also include tune ups, but I still have 1500 miles until my 75000 mile maintenance and there’s no Mitsubishi dealership in the area.

Public Transportation is a category that doesn’t always get used. There is no public transportation to speak of in my little town unless you are old. When traveling, I do try to take advantage of public transportation when it makes sense.

Special Transportation would likely include airport shuttles or rental cars, but I’ve never had to use it.

Tolls, are, as expected, but are sometimes estimates.

Parking is something I try to avoid paying for, but sometimes it’s much easier to just pay and park then take public transport everywhere. It feels like such a rip-off…

That’s more or less and overview of my Transportation category. You’ll notice that there is no category for car payments, insurance, or Car-Repair. I bought my car used 2 years ago and paid for it in full, so I have no car payments. Insurance is through my parents due to my residency status and is something I generally pay for all at once in January. This year it was $500, and when I have to pay it again, it will likely get its own category. Car repair is obviously something that I try to avoid and have been good at so far. I’ll only add this category if I absolutely have to.

Aside from traveling less, I feel like this category is fairly in control.

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