achieving financial freedom one lazy step at a time

The cost of owning a car

I promise this is the last post about cars for many, many years to come I hope. But I did find the post of JL collins about the cost of a car really interesting. JL Collins is much better at keeping track of his expenses than I am (I am lazy after all). And he has been doing it for a lot longer than most of us have.

I already knew cars are expensive. There is a reason I didn’t own one till I was 35 and a big part of me being able to build up a stash can be attributed to me not owning a car. But I still found it quite a shock to see his number at 5,000+ USD per year. Gulp!

I then ran my own number for the last 2 years we had our old car and I arrive at an annual cost of around 3,000 euro. And these are the numbers for a second hand car bought for 8,000 euro when it was 4 years old. JL Collins numbers also show the last years are the cheapest and I also know I had a big maintenance bill before I started tracking our numbers. So realisticaly speaking we should be more around 3,500 euro to 4,000 euro cost per year with the 1,000 euro difference with JL Collins being explained by our lower amortizing costs because our car was cheaper than his.

Damn, cars are expensive!

For me and my girlfriend this is almost one full month each year we need to work just to pay for the car we mainly use to get to work! I know it’s crazy but we all do it!

I am curious if other people have other numbers? If so, please post them!

Now, taxes do play a big part in these expenses: 20 biljoen euro of our money flows to the government via our cars each and every year. But even taking those into account we do pay a lot of money for being comfortable while moving.

A small reminder of a simple fact

Mr Money mustache already knew it back in 2011: you can get rich by using your bike more often.

But sometimes we need to remind ourself of these simple facts. The rise in electric bicycles means that you now can cover greater distances faster. And car sharing services are popping up in more places, even our countryside!

Or perhaps we should all just switch to a velomobile?


  1. Cee

    New car, fully insured, kept a good 2 years. A little under 3500 per year. But barely drove it.

    • finan112_wp

      With somewhat moderate use the gas bills alone would have probably pushed you over the 4000 euro …

  2. fighttofire

    I know it’s not a fair comparison but as of next year I have a salary car. Thanks to the salary plan I can choose how much I allocate to certain benefits incl. a car and I decided to pay about 620 EUR gross.
    It’s the only option I selected for the coming year, compared to this year where I took three other benefits. As a result my actual decrease in net income is “only” ~320 EUR. Taking this amount into account I will lose ~3840 EUR net/year. You got to love the Belgian tax system.

    • finan112_wp

      Yes the salary car thing is the only time leasing actually makes sense but that is completely due to our Belgan Tax system.

  3. ItsALongStory

    I lived and worked in Brussels for about 6 years and really enjoyed not having to commute by car. I live in the Western US currently (Nevada) and everything is really spread out here since there is so much space. As a result, both my wife and I have cars and easily spend $10k per year on them and 1 of them is paid off (Mine was brand new and has 0% interest so not in a rush to accelerate the payoff). I don’t drive much but it does add up to 15-18k KM per year and my wife probably drives double that while she is retired.

    When we RE it will be a huge adjustment to reduce the driving and corresponding stress from it. My personal goal is to remain car-less and just rent one every once in a while or sign up for one of those car sharing services.

    • finan112_wp

      Yes, 5k per year x 2 cars and you are at 10k per year which is a lot of money! With the Nevade climate I wonder if a motorbike could not be a solutions to get rid of one of the cars? Depending on the distance a 125 cc might do even do. I do complain (frequent) about my maintenance costs of the Vespa but it still is a hell of a lot cheaper than a second car and personally I love it. Even a 750cc motorcycle would cost about the same and then longer distances should not be a worry (I put about 11.000 km a year on the Vespa but all of it short 20 km drives). Car sharing services are finaly making their way to the countryside in Belgium so once retired it will definitely be something we look into to see if going carless is possible.

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