5 affordable alternatives to owning a car

There's nothing like getting the keys to your first car. The sense of independence and freedom. You can go anywhere, anytime you want. But this freedom comes with a lot of financial responsibility. Car payments, parking spaces, repair costs, and — of course — gas. For many, these are just accepted costs. But a growing portion of the population is not licensed to drive. A smaller portion does not own a car at all. Turns out, you don't have to own a car to get around. Here are a few more affordable transportation options than a personal car:

1. Public transit

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In most major cities, some kind of public transportation exists. These can consist of subways, light rail trains or just buses. Public transit is a good option for reliable transportation to and from work. While some cities are notorious for late buses and trains, most areas experience little to no delays during rush hours. Most cities allow you to purchase weekly, monthly or even yearly passes. This makes budgeting much more efficient than tallying up varying mileage. It might take a little longer to get around with public transit, but you also have that time to relax or get even more things done.

2. Ride sharing

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Services like Uber and Lyft had spiked in popularity and usage in recent years. Many people use Uber while traveling or for special events, but ride sharing is now an effective replacement for day-to-day transportation. With the addition of ride scheduling, commuters can plan pick ups and get to work on time. UberPool and LyftLine lower the cost by carpooling riders heading in the same direction. This can be an even more effective alternative to public transportation as well as car ownership.

3. Car sharing

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Car sharing is the cousin to ride sharing. Instead of paying to get a ride, you pay to use a car for a set amount of time. The most popular service in this area is Zipcar. But there are other companies offering similar services. This can be similar to renting a car, but it is much much less expensive. You can pay Zipcar for just an hour or as long as a week. If you prefer to drive yourself, car sharing is a great alternative to owning your own vehicle.

4. Carpooling

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If you're not a fan of these new apps and services, you can go old school and coordinate a carpool. Do you and your co-workers need a ride in to work? Hop in the same car. Have a neighbor who heads into downtown every day like you do? Ask to join him. But if you don't want to search for a carpool yourself, there are apps that can help you find a ride, like Waze Carpool. Carpooling helps clear up traffic and reduces the amount of pollution being released.

5. Last mile vehicle

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If you live near your office or in a big city, owning a last mile vehicle might be more convenient than the other options. This can be an electric scooter, skateboard or just a regular bicycle. These are called last mile vehicles because they are typically used in conjunction with public transit to cover that last little portion of the trip. You can purchase your own bike or join your city's bike sharing program for more convenience. Owning and using an electric scooter or skateboard decreases your commute time and lowers the amount of energy you might have to exert. Nothing like fresh air on your way to work, right?

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