Dump the Car Payment and Rent Instead

Rental Car Counter

We do it with our housing. Why not transportation?

Have you considered renting a car occasionally instead of buying?

This is what Tomi Grover does.

I met Tomi at an online entrepreneur’s networking function last weekend. She confidently told a group of us that she doesn’t own a car. Instead, she rents a car only when she needs it.

Knowing Tomi lived in the sprawling suburbs of the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex, where everyone needs a car, I thought this was impressive.

We’ve all heard of people near urban centers making use of car share/rental services like ZipCar and Car2Go. But those services have yet to reach the burbs.

Saying Goodbye to Car Payments…the Hard Way

Tomi’s relationship with cars hasn’t always been so functional. She calls herself a “car enthusiast”. She grew up in a family that only drove new cars.

She says her father smoked cigarettes, and as soon as “the ash tray got full” he would trade in the car for a new one.

Fast forward to 2010, and Tomi’s love affair with cars had fixed itself on an Acura TL with leather interior. It would be her last car though.

A major medical issue left her unable to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams, and thus, unable to make her car payments. She gave up her car and even chose to cash out some of her retirement to pay for some of the medical debt.

Since that time, Tomi has recovered and continued to pursue her entrepreneurial, mission-minded dreams (even completing a book this year).

But she hasn’t returned to the world of car payments.

Fortunately, Tomi’s husband, who works in law enforcement, was able to purchase a truck. Tomi is able to use the truck, when her husband isn’t working one of his two jobs. She also occasionally borrows a vehicle from her children.

This approach isn’t for everyone. Like me, Tomi mostly works from home. She’s an author, speaker, teacher, and info-preneur on the issue of human trafficking. Her work requires that she travel away from her home a few times a month to mostly regional locations. It’s obviously more difficult to borrow a car for these trips.

Renting Occasionally vs Buying a Car Outright

Instead of buying a car, which would come with insurance and maintenance costs – not to mention a car loan or large cash outlay – Tomi has decided to rent.

This decision isn’t so uncommon. It was recently discussed in the Mr. Money Mustache forums. See this thread for more of the financial breakdown of the rent vs buy used comparison.

Tomi rents mostly from Enterprise, who has a location just two miles from her home. Enterprise will “pick you up”, which in Tomi’s case, gives them a leg up on the competition.

Many people are taking Enterprise up on this offer. I spoke with a representative and they said roughly half of the customers who rent from their “neighborhood” rental locations use the “pick me up” service.

Enterprise also has weekend rates as low as $9.99 per day. This is limited to 100 miles per day, but Tomi says this is often more than enough for her weekend speaking gigs.

Joining the Enterprise rewards program, Enterprise Plus, has also been a good way to lower rental prices and occasionally qualify for free rentals and upgrades, says Tomi.

Tip: Check out these other car rental money-saving tips from a former Enterprise employee.

Sell Your Second Car and Rent Instead?

I’m certainly inspired by Tomi’s story. It made me reflect on my own situation.

We have two cars. Since I work from home, we could potentially get away with dropping to one car. It would be inconvenient in ways, but it’s certainly do-able.

I look out my front window and see my 2002 Honda Accord. It’s long since paid for, but I’m paying roughly $60 a month in insurance costs, plus $450 annually in taxes, fees, and maintenance.

Should I sell it, invest the cash, and only rent when I need a car? Definitely something to consider.

What about you? Have you considered renting for your transportation needs?

Image by peanutian

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Last Edited: November 13, 2013 @ 5:40 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.