Getting around can be more affordable!

Could Car Sharing Save or Even Make You Money?

by Debra Karplus

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The Internal Revenue Service ( estimates that it costs 57.5 cents/mile to operate a vehicle. Depending on the age, size and model of your car that price could be lower or even higher. In your efforts to save money, you may have pondered how you might lower your daily transportation costs. Walking, bicycling, or using public transportation can make daily commutes affordable. But, maybe there are some car sharing options in your community such as ZipCar or Uber.

ZipCar enables you to use a vehicle at an hourly rate.

If you are not a big user of a vehicle, maybe you don't need to own one. Using a ZipCar can save you on the daily costs of operating a car or van, such as monthly payments, insurance, and registration. Perhaps you don't own a vehicle but occasionally need one to run a bunch of errands that involve hauling large items. Or maybe you need a minivan, something much larger than your Honda Civic, to take short outings when your grandchildren visit?

If ZipCar is in your area, consider yourself lucky; check and click on "find cars" (by location or car make and model) to see if this handy service, located in many states and often in college towns, is available to you. Note the ZipCars must be returned to the location where they were picked up.

Joining ZipCar is easy. If you are over 21 years old, have a valid driver's license, and have a relatively clean driving record, within three to seven days your online membership can turn you into a ZipCar member who can borrow cars in any town where they have ZipCar. You can have a ZipCar for up to seven days, but if you expect to use a ZipCar for more than just a few hours, you may want to compare the cost with the old fashioned method of just renting a car from one of the large car rental companies, such as Enterprise.

Depending on where you live, rates may be a little more or slightly less, but there are currently three levels of membership. For commitment-free membership, pay a $70 annual fee and a $25 application charge and use a ZipCar for $8.50 per hour or $79 per day. Most ZipCar users opt for the monthly plan for $7 monthly plus the $25 application fee. For extra value, members can pay $50 monthly and receive an extra 10% off of hourly and per day rates, which is still much cheaper than owning your own car or van. All plans include the first 180 miles per day free and an extra fee of $0.45 for every additional mile.

Turn your current vehicle into a cash cow by driving for Uber.

Check out The Huffington Post ( in a December 2014 report stated that Uber drivers can earn as much as $90,000 annually working as an independent contractor driving for UberTaxi. That sort of income involves driving lots and lots of hours. But for your average 40-hour workweek, there is the potential to earn about $50,000 a year, which calculates to $25/hour. That is about twice the pay of your average taxi driver.

On, you can see if the company operates in your area. (If it doesn't and you are a go-getter, you may want to start up Uber where you live!) Passengers and drivers get started on Uber by setting up an account and completing the application process. In little time, you, too, can be driving for Uber, working as many hours as you choose either to supplement your current income or to ultimately replace your job by driving.

Getting around town does not have to put you in the poor house. Car sharing is the way of the future for keeping life affordable and on the go. Check out ZipCar and Uber.

Reviewed June 2017

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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