Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Life Skills: Transportation

Securing reliable transportation is almost a must for everyone regardless of where you live. If you live in a city area where work, home and shopping are all within walking distance then you are lucky and can save money that would be spent for transportation for other things. If you do not live in an area where walking is easy, convenient and safe then you must decide on another way to get around. Some cities still have bus systems that are affordable, some areas have trains that are affordable, and the more expensive mode of public transportation is taxis. You could choose to use a combination of public systems and walking for a while if that will fit your life style and budget.

Many people also opt for riding a bicycle or moped, depending on where they live in relation to where they work. Using one of these methods in conjunction with public transportation can also save you money to start with. However, most people are forced to get a vehicle for many reasons such as; location of places they must go or having children.

If you have to get a car right away consider something economical, which is dependable and good on gas. If your credit score or income will not support buying a new car, don’t stress about it. You can still find a good car that you can afford that will get the job done.

Look at used lots that offer their own financing plans. You will pay higher interest and thus end up paying more than the car is worth, but they usually don’t check your credit and have payment plans that will fit your budget. Just be careful to not let the very nice person selling you the car “take you for a ride” so to speak. Try to take a male relative or co-worker with you, even if you do all the talking and know enough about cars to not get cheated; having a male there for some reason makes a lot of the “smooth-talking” go away.

If you do not have a male that can go with you can ask a female to go with you, which just having two people there can help you. If you do not know anyone in your area, go to the local Domestic Violence shelter or a church and explain what you need and ask if they would send someone with you. Most of the time if you explain your situation briefly ( don’t go into details you aren’t comfortable revealing) and tell them you think you need help in choosing a good car at an affordable price, they will be able to provide someone that can take you to a car lot and help you.

Whether you go alone or with someone don’t be talked into a deal that you know you can’t afford or that just doesn’t feel right. Always ask to test drive the car. If it is possible have it set up with a mechanic to bring it in during that test drive to get it looked over and ask them their opinion of the car. Tell the mechanic the asking price and ask if the car is mechanically sound enough for that price. This may cost you a little money but well worth it in the long run.

Sometimes people will list cars on the internet for sell. Be very careful if you choose to buy a car this way. People sometimes will also offer cars through Freecycle™ (
http://www.freecycle.org/). Again, be careful here because you would have to spend money on insurance, tags, taxes, etc. and may end up with a car that doesn’t run, and now have no money to insure and tag another one. You can find cars for sell in local papers also, these are usually for cash sales only from individuals, be careful if buying a car this way, and again try to take someone else with you to look at it. Ask to test drive it and try to arrange with a mechanic to look it over while you have it out for the test drive.

Car insurance rates vary so greatly by state and individual driver that it is hard to pinpoint one insurance company that is best or cheapest or whatever. I suggest taking the time to get quotes from several different companies and then choose the one that is right for you. Remember that if you are making payments on a car most lenders will require full coverage, so ask before buying the car what they require and get quotes based on that.

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