If you look at the price tag on a car, you’ll figure out pretty quickly that cars are expensive. However, what people frequently don’t take into consideration is that cars actually cost more than what is listed on the price tag. This has led to many situations involving people saving up to buy new cars without realizing that cleaning out their bank accounts to pay for the car and having only $2 left over afterwards will not cover the insurance and gas bills. To help you avoid making the same hapless mistake, let’s explore exactly how much a car really costs.

According to the United States’ Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2006, it costs $8,003 per year to own and operate a car. When you break down that figure, you find out that the average American spends $3,421 on purchasing the car itself, $2,227 on gasoline and motor oil, and $2,355 for other miscellaneous car costs. Wealthier people tend to spend more on their cars than less affluent people; for example, the richest quintile of Americans spends around $15,198 on their cars versus the average $2,856 spent by the poorest quintile.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) also has some numbers to contribute to the conversation. In 2007, it released statistics detailing how much it costs per mile driven, depending on what kind of car you own and how many miles it was driven. If you own a small 2007 model sedan and only drive it 10,000 miles a year, then you are paying 50.5 cents per mile; if you drive it 20,000 miles a year, that figure drops to 37.4 cents. Compare that to a 2007 model minivan – if you drive the car 10,000 miles a year, then you’re paying 69.2 cents per mile, and if you drive it 20,000 miles a year, then you’re paying 52.2 cents per mile. On average, the AAA thinks that people spend $9,641 per year on cars. Consider the fact that this figure is based on the average 2007 gasoline cost of $2.256 per gallon – you wish it was that low in 2011. When you factor in the cost of parking, that number just keeps getting higher and higher.

If you think you’re spending too much money on your car, there are ways you can minimize your costs. If you can get where you want to go via public transportation, then you should be using it; public transit is ridiculously cheap when compared to the cost of owning a car. For example, in 2011, a monthly unlimited subway/bus pass in New York City costs $104; for a full year, that comes out to $1,248. There is absolutely no way you can get away with spending that little on a car no matter where you live. However, if you don’t live in an area with good public transportation, then your next best option is to try carpooling. It’s a great option even if you do own a car, as it will cut down on the cost of gas and reduce the amount of wear and tear on your car.

Take a quick look at Complete Insurance if you want to learn more about the cost of car insurance.

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