Beware of the math when looking at transport options

By | 2nd March 2017

Beware of 'man math' when looking at transport options

There is a danger when looking at travel costs, if you take the annual cost per mile over a large number of miles for a car.

By car, the cheapest cost per mile is around 35p no matter whether you run an old banger or something more modern. BUT this is over a whole year covering 10,000 miles.

At a more realistic 4,000 miles annually then your cost per mile increases to 59p.

Some people just look at the fuel cost and forget all the other costs – I’ve even seen electric car owners try to say it only costs them 2p a mile, but that is just the economy charging cost alone, not any of the other costs.

If you must do long trips then the personal car may appear to be the cheapest option, but be careful of ‘man math’:

In reality you are paying every day for a car, even if you don’t drive it.

For example, the ‘man math’ for a trip say from Cobham in Surrey to Portsmouth would give you these results (assuming just one person, as most trips are made alone):

Initially assuming 10,000 miles pa, you get:

110 miles at 34p/mile = £37 return & £10 parking = £47

But at a more realistic 4,000 miles pa, this actually gives:

110 miles at 59p/mile = £65 return & £10 parking = £75

£140 return

£8×2 taxis plus £27 train = £43 return

BUT that assumes you are spending around £200 – £300 per month, every month, on car transport.

If you have eliminated unnecessary journeys then your annual mileage could be much lower – in which case these figures above are wrong, as the car cost per mile would be much higher.

One easy way to look at things is to take the monthly budget of £200 – £300 and see what you could do with it, utilising different methods of transport, to get the best result.

That way, you will have the genuine picture of costs and not the ‘man math’ version.

James McBrearty started his own business from scratch in 2006, to help the self-employed.

He helps people to escape from the corporate world and shares his thoughts here on the changing world of work, technology and personal finances; as well as the occasional travel post.

Over the next 10 years things are going to change significantly. James is a follower of frugality and minimalism; and an advocate of F.I.R.E. to minimise the coming disruption.

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