There was a time when most families did not have a car. Bread, meat, soft drinks and general groceries were delivered. There were also travelling salesmen who sold other goods door to door. Public transport was the way most people travelled. Bicycles were common and people were in the habit of walking. People stayed home more or were involved in work and activities not too far from home. Times have changed.
These days many people do need a car. It is expected that each household will have at least one car. However, in some situations it is possible to manage without, as I am finding out. However, it takes some getting used to and planning is essential.
Here are five tips for living without a car.
!. Shop Online You can order online from many supermarkets or other types of food store/market if you live in the city or suburbs. Unfortunately this convenience isn't available in rural or regional areas but hopefully this will change in the future.
Delivery is often free the first time you place an order. Sometimes the delivery fee can be avoided by arranging delivery on a particular day. You need to place your order well in advance to take advantage of this offer. There can be other promotions which allow you to get free delivery.
The first few times you place an online order can take some time to locate all the items you want but it gets quicker with practice and there are various tools allowing you to make online lists depending on the store you are ordering from.
Make a comprehensive list before you start ordering online. Check your order when it is delivered and phone the company if there are any problems.
Many people are taking advantage of online shopping for all sorts of purchases these days and sometimes delivery fees can be avoided. Use reputable companies to avoid disappointment.
2. Ask stores if they deliver Some businesses do not charge much to deliver items you buy. Check if the charge is per item or for several things. If the charge is for everything you are getting delivered at the one time plan ahead to get the best value for the delivery charge.
Some companies have a low fee for addresses that are close to the store. If this is the case you may save money by using the nearest hardware store or whatever rather than one that is located further away.
The other day I arranged for my nearest hardware store to deliver several bags of potting mix (on special) and two bales of pea straw. The assistant knew I was going to look around the store and offered to arrange delivery of anything else I purchased that day. Although I could have carried the other two items home I appreciated having them delivered at no extra cost.
3. Ask around about all alternative forms of transport In my area we have trains to the city. There are buses that travel around the local area and buses run by a different company that go to close by country towns.
There are taxis. There is also a dial-a-bus service but there are criteria for utilising it. This service is primarily for people who are unable to catch public transport. However, it is available to the general public a couple of evenings each week and for a few hours on the weekend when the local bus service does not operate.
I have a collection of timetables in my bag and sometimes look up information about times on the internet.
Make sure you take advantage of any concessions you are entitled to. Ask about concessions for Centrelink recipients and seniors. Also check if off peak times are cheaper. Where I live seniors travel free on public transport at off peak times.
4. Plan ahead Plan ahead so you can do several tasks when you go out. Make a list of the errands you need to do and work out the logical order so you don't have to back track.
Thinking ahead will help you when you get a lift with a friend. You may be able to ask him/her to make a detour to enable you to do another errand. The other day a friend was taking me somewhere and I asked if we could go to a charity shop to drop off some items I wanted to donate after a decluttering session. I knew my friend would be happy to oblige as she is a firm believer in decluttering.
5. Get yourself a shopping cart/trolley A shopping cart is very useful and will save your arms from getting strained carrying bags of goods. Some are covered in strong canvas type fabric or vinyl. Others have a metal cage type of frame.
Shopping cart/trolley. Image:Marie Vonow
I use my shopping cart when I go to the library to borrow a few items. It is also great when I go to the Sunday market and buy fruit, vegies and plants. Although I purchase my groceries online I sometimes like to see before I buy. It is amazing how just a few items can be heavy to carry home. Even when I divide my purchases between two bags to even out the weight and avoid straining my arms and shoulders bags can get heavy.
With some planning and thinking ahead you may be able to manage quite well without a car. The money you save on registration, insurance, petrol and maintenance of a vehicle will enable you to catch a taxi (if available in your area) when necessary. In rural areas where there are no taxis people are often accustomed and willing to helping out with transport.