When I graduated from college in 2015, I had one goal: to be debt-free. I dreamt of a life of flexibility and freedom, where I could travel and pursue my interests without being tied down by a monthly payment or compounding interest.
So during my first year in the real world, I knew what I had to do: pay off my $14,000 of student loan debt as quickly as possible. (Spoiler alert: I did it in just seven months .) I got there by being ruthless when it came to slashing my expenses and finding creative ways to live on less, like taking advantage of the sharing economy.
Here’s how renting helped me shave $5,000 off my yearly budget.
My 2000 VW Cabrio was the first item I put under financial scrutiny. The options were simple: Keep it or sell it. On the one hand, I needed a way to get to my office in San Diego which was about 8 miles away from my apartment. But I was also spending nearly $500 per month on maintenance—there was that memorable time it shut off on the freeway—gas, parking and insurance. (Fortunately, I didn’t have a car payment.)
While I was crunching the numbers and considering my options, the decision was made for me when my car broke down beyond repair. So I sold the car to a junkyard for $700—and just like that, I was car-free.
I decided not to buy or lease a new car and instead stick with ride-share and rental options like Car2GO , Zipcar , Uber and Lyft —plus my bike and the bus—as my primary new modes of transportation. On average, it costs about $70 per week to get to and from work and to run errands. On weekends, I ride with friends whenever possible or split Uber fares. Plus, my partner has a car, which helps.
Because I lived in Los Angeles for two years prior, this transition was easier than I expected. I was used to walking to my job and college classes, hopping on buses, biking busy roads and requesting Ubers. My coworkers think I’ve lost my mind, but I just smile to myself because I never have to worry about tickets, registration or anymore highway breakdowns.
What I paid to own: $6,000