Trucks. 90% not needed

Reading all of Mr. Money Mustache’s posts has changed me in several ways, but profoundly when looking at what cars Americans choose to drive. And while sometimes Mr. Money Mustache can seem a bit blame-y when it comes to haranguing people about their debt and lifestyle choices, I’m totally there with him re: cars. And I’m completely there regarding trucks.

I love a good truck. When my parents inherited money while I was in my teens they paid off the mortgage and my dad bought a truck. I loved driving it. It was driving stripped down to the basics: standard transmission, rough cloth upholstery. To this day, something about a bench seat still gets me. Trucks are handy for hauling things, and they’re big, without being as asshole-ish as large SUVs.

However, I think in 99% of the cases, they are completely unnecessary. The above three trucks are parked in these spaces every day that I walk this way to work. I’m guessing they belong to the construction workers who are building the big tower down the block. But these trucks aren’t used for construction. They’re used to get the construction workers to their job.

As Mr. Money Mustache points out in this post, the two things to worry about  with vehicles are fuel economy and passenger/cargo space. These two trucks fail on both counts. Assuming the construction workers are driving themselves to work, they could be doing so in a much smaller car, even something as small as a Smart Car. (Which cost a lot of money, now that I’m looking at the price.)

Yes, these construction workers may use their trucks for other things like hauling things on the weekend, or an after-hours job. But they probably do not. Like most cars in the USA, they drive us to work and back home again.

And do these construction workers own these trucks free and clear, with no car loan? Possibly, but not probably. If there’s one thing all the Financial Independence reading has reminded me, it’s that car loans should be avoided at all costs. If the people who drive these cars are paying loans plus interest, that makes them even more inefficient choices.

I don’t currently own a car, though I do pay for the use of one. I take public transportation to work and use it to get me to other places when the car isn’t available. It’s easy to say that I’m lucky–that I’ve got it easy, with a quick commute downtown. Not everybody has that option.

But I would also say that I arranged my life in this fashion. When I last looked for work, I applied for jobs that were close to my house, at least via public transportation. If the job hunt hadn’t turned up anything, I would have expanded my search, but I’ve done the hour-commute-each-way-via-public-transportation thing, and I don’t want to experience that again, if I can help it.

These trucks may make their owners very happy. But they also might be inflicting needless financial pain. At any rate, they aren’t a good choice for the planet. I’d like to see us, as a country, move away from big vehicles.

4 thoughts on “Trucks. 90% not needed”

  1. We always notice when we are in a new area that has a more truck focused culture (the West/out in more agricultural areas/in the burbs) and we are the only smaller car/non-truck/SUV on the road or in the parking lot. We also feel like we have made choices to be a one car family for similar reasons. It can be a pain sometimes and we do have to use uber in a pinch, but we could not see it any other way. During family time at Christmas one of my uncles asked me about when we might get another car. We feel pretty strongly that we would do everything in our power to remain a 1 car family. And It was interesting to be asked about it because it has become a given for us. I mean we’ve made it work for almost 15 years of our marriage (only having the 2 cars during the very first few months we were married) and it is our normal. I also know that being kid free homes doesn’t hurt. We have also leased our cars for most of that time. People often are weird about leasing, but it has always been a better financial choice for us.

    1. Kids totally muck up the car thing. Though there were some committed biking families at my previous job. They made the one-car thing work while also having children. One of my co-workers was committed to no cars even through her pregnancy. I figured that eventually she’d hit a breaking point, but her boy is seven now, and they still don’t have a car. Both her and her husband work within easy biking distance and they have a bakfiet–one of those bikes with a cargo place in the front. That’s where her son sits. They’ve also upgraded that bike to be an electric bike, which has made a huge amount of difference.

      Good job keeping going with one car. It may be where I live, but I think with ride hailing services becoming ubiquitous more people will move to one car per couple, which I think is good.

  2. Loved that little blue truck. I really think it was the perfect answer for a second car. Living in an area where public transportation was almost not available, I seemed handy for many things. Granted, it was used mostly as a car. Let’s face it, trucks are manly thing. Why not have some fun in life? I know it probably cost us less than a second car.

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