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4 Reasons to Ditch Your Car in Your 50s or 60s (Only One is Financial!)

By Sixty and Me June 13, 2020 Managing Money

Do you remember the sense of freedom that you had the first time you got in your own car and turned the keys? The world suddenly became smaller as your mind raced with possibilities for adventure and exploration. At that moment, you knew that you could do anything, anywhere, with whomever you chose.

As you moved into adulthood, your car may have shifted from “dream machine” to “commuting machine” or “family shuttle” but, that didn’t make it any less valuable. No matter how your life evolved, your car was essential to your journey.

In fact, as Americans, we love our cars so much that they become a part of us. We can’t imagine life without them… even if we realize that they have outlived their usefulness.

This is a shame because a lot of our money is locked up in our cars. In addition, our cars can be crutches that hold us back, physically, mentally and even socially.

Don’t believe me? Here are 4 powerful reasons to consider ditching your car in your 50s or 60s.

Feed Your Retirement Account a Little Nitrous Oxide!

Most of us spend our 20s and 30s completely ignoring our retirement savings. Then, in our 40s, we start to realize that we are indeed getting older and walk down to our company’s HR department to dust off those 401K forms that we never got around to completing.

By the time we reach our 50s, many of us are in full crisis mode. We know that we have fewer working years ahead of us than behind us and our ability to impact our retirement accounts in a meaningful way seems limited.

Well, what if I told you that ditching your car could help you to save an additional $70,000 for retirement. It’s true!

I walked through all of the details in this article, but, in summary, if you sold your car for $20,000 at age 52 and got a 9.8% return (the historical average return for the S&P 500), by age 67, you would have more than $70,000 more for retirement.

Would giving up your car require compromises (and even sacrifices)? Of course! But, as I am about to explain, many of the downsides to giving up your car may have silver linings.

Leave a Cleaner World for Your Grandkids

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average car in America emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in a year. And, as we all know, cars also contribute to smog, acid rain and other environmental problems.

By the time we reach our 50s and 60s, many of us are already beginning to think about our legacies. In addition to the money and other assets that we hope to leave to our kids and grandkids, we also want to leave the world a cleaner, safer and fairer place than we entered it.

The good news is that we don’t need to have millions of dollars to contribute to charity to make a difference in our later years. Small steps, like choosing to use public transportation, can make a real difference.

Who knows, maybe your decision to give up your car will show your friends, family members and neighbors that it is possible. And, if it does, you really will be changing the world for the better!

Save Time and Invest in Your Retirement Planning (Or Even Start a Side Hustle!)

For some people, it’s not the cost of driving to work that drives them crazy… it is the fact that driving is an epic waste of time. Look, I get it. When you have kids to take to school, meetings to attend and parent-teacher conferences to visit, your car is a lifesaver.

But, once you are in your 50s and (most likely) your kids have left the house, taking public transportation to work or using a ride-sharing service becomes much more viable.

And, what can you do with this time? Instead of sitting there like a trained monkey, pushing peddles and turning a wheel, you could build your financial literacy, plan your retirement or even start a side-business.

Think you’re too old to start a business? Think again! As I wrote in this article, entrepreneurs over 50 are, statistically speaking, more successful than any other age group. We also have the experience, skills, contacts and money to succeed.

So, instead of spending 2 hours a day riding the brake and glaring at people using the HOV lane with only one person in the car, why not take the bus or train and use the time you save to invest in your future?

Take a Positive Step Towards Healthy Aging

Do you remember when you had to wind down the car window by hand? The very concept seems alien in a world filled with cars that can read us our emails, sync with our phones, play music, park themselves, give us directions and so much more!

But, is all that convenience really necessary? Isn’t it possible that we would actually be better off physically if we had to walk to the local shop once in a while? And, would our brains not be sharper if we had to use our own navigation skills to get us to our destinations?

In the year after I gave up my car, I lost about 18lb. I also felt more balanced and fitter. And, all I did was trade in my car for a bus pass and some walking shoes. How will giving up your car change your life?

Do you think that you could ever give up your car? Why or why not? If you have already given up your car, what did you learn from the experience?

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The Author

Sixty and Me is a community of over 500,000 women over 60 founded by Margaret Manning. Our editorial team publishes articles on lifestyle topics including fashion, dating, retirement and money.

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