Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Contemplating a scooter

So I’ve been seriously contemplating buying a scooter in the spring of 2012 and insuring it for 6-months out of the year going forward. For those that are new around here, I had a scooter before – but sold it when I moved to Vancouver because it became impractical (where I needed to go was only accessible by highways). But now that my lifestyle has changed, and I live closer to the city, I am really beginning to see how having a scooter will positively impact my life.

I’m finding myself driving everywhere these days – to work, to field hockey, and to see friends, because the SkyTrain/bus isn’t practical. Taking public transportation takes too much time, and I’m just getting busier as each day passes with my freelancing work. I can’t be taking 3-4 hours of my day to commute round trip by transit to a field hockey game, or to practice. The Lower Mainland is huge, and traffic always sucks. When I go to Vancouver, that’s about a 30-45 min. commute each way from where I live.

While my car is pretty good on gas, a scooter is obviously way better on gas. Plus it’s fun to drive, and it’s easier to find parking. And, after the initial cost of the scooter, the insurance/repairs/gas is actually cheaper each month than a bus pass. When I had my scooter before and was riding it every single day, I think I was paying around $45/month for insurance and gas combined.

Clearly this is a want, not a need. I have a car already, so I don’t need another vehicle. But I can see myself using the scooter a lot during the warmer months to do those long commutes within the city, as well as to get to work. I go through about $150/month in gas right now, and a scooter would definitely cut that down significantly. That’s the drawback to living in the suburbs, I guess. :) Plus, I think it will also significantly cut down on the wear & tear of my car. And, let’s face it, scooters are awesome. The biggest reason why I want one is because, well, I want one. They’re super, super cool.

It’s a big commitment, and it’s a lot of money up front. In fact, I think it’d be probably around $5,000. First I’d need to do my research and buy a scooter (thinking a used Vespa). Then I’d have to get my motorcycle license, because I’ll probably want 125-150cc. My last scooter was 50cc (which goes a max of 63 km/hr when you take off the restrictors), and I had to put a race kit on it so that it would top at 80km just so I could keep up with traffic.

Anyway, we’ll see. I have bigger things to save up for at the moment, but the scooter is in the back of my mind.

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


Comments

  1. Yes, it's a want right now – but when your car hits the crapper, it's not so much a want anymore! And that's exactly what happened to me. Had a truck, got a scooter, truck now lives in a junk yard somewhere. The scooter is still the only vehicle I have, and I ride it year round. I'm so in to scooters that I'm actually starting up a scooter blog :-D

    But anyway… I'm not too good with Canada money, but 5k is pretty darn steep for 125-150. Like, super steep. My 250cc Honda Big Ruckus was 5k US, and even that was a little steep. I wouldn't pay more than 2500 for a brand new 150. If you're going to do it at all, though, I would recommend stepping up to a maxi scooter. Honda really bogged down the Big Ruckus, but even stock it tops out at 75mph (120kph), and on top of that, it's a very practical little truck, with the oodles of storage options. You know, for if it ends up your only set of wheels, like mine.

    Oh, I'm rambling now. I guess I'll stop. Insurance is year-round here, but only $100/year for full coverage. $10/mo in gas, when I fill up once a month… I'm a happy camper.
    My recent post Is your retirement plan severance proof?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yeah I think a scooter is a great opportunity to have a second vehicle and avoid putting so much mileage on my car when I don't have to. I almost also started a scooter blog! But then I moved to Vancouver. :( Was a part of a scooter riding club when I lived in my hometown, it was awesome.

      $5k is really steep, but just like cars, there is a way bigger cost in Canada than in the USA. Also, I want a Vespa, and they are expensive as hell. Before, I had a Yamaha Vino and it was pretty cheap. I also looked at the Ruckus.

      I'll probably be looking to you for advice when I eventually decide to buy one. :)

  2. Etienne says:

    it's 200% a want.
    plus if you crunch the numbers, you won't save enough on gas to pay for the scooter and the insurance.
    yes a scooter is cool, but it's lightyears away from being financially sound/frugal.

    But, since you're now making a lot of money with your freelance work (seeing almost all your weeks are cashflow positive, you travel like 6 times what the average person travels and you buy stuff that you "need" but still can easily afford – like your outdoors gear), I think in your case it wouldn't be a big deal to buy a scooter.

    I'm just writing this if anyone in debt is seeing this as a way to actually save money, it's is not at all.

    • It's not? I did crunch the numbers when I bought mine, and it did indeed save me money. 12mpg truck vs 65mpg scooter?

      I actually had my mother finance it for me, due to my credit, and it was the spreadsheet showing how much money I would save that sealed the deal.
      My recent post Is your retirement plan severance proof?

      • Krystal Yee says:

        I agree with Jake. Ditching my car and buying a scooter was what helped me get rid of my debt so quickly 4 years ago. It was ridiculous how much you can actually save, even after the initial investment of buying the scooter.

      • Etienne says:

        even at 12mpg vs 65mpg, unless you do a lot of driving every day, you won't save 5000$ (plus investment opportunity lost) except maybe on the very long term. Plus she has a car, nowhere near 12mpg…

        That's like people saying that buying the diesel engine is a good choice financially.. yes if you do over 5-60 000km/year

        • Nicole says:

          You’re forgetting about insurance. My scooter is 400 a year to insure. My boyfriend pays a little over 2 grand for coverage for his car. The savings are partly from the gas, yes, but the insurance cut is huge! In 2 years you’d have it paid for with insurance savings alone.

  3. addvodka says:

    Those scooters are pretty awesome. They also help the environment which is a huge plus in my eyes.
    My recent post $3000 Savings Progress

  4. Thesoup says:

    A scooter is a ton of fun, but check out insurance rates before you buy. With a new M class license, my insurance in Ontario was about $1000/year (and this was just for a 49cc Vino)! The insurance cost was so much higher than was expected. I am sure ICBC is much better, but you should still check it out first. Even if you decide to wait on the scooter, you may also want to consider getting your M license as soon as possible. The longer you have the license, the lower your insurance rate is.

    • Suzanne says:

      The soup – I would shop around for insurance. I was with Desjardin for my 50cc and I paid $350/year (brand new license) and I am now with Jevco and I have a 2010 Vespa and only pay $530/year. Shopping around is key, because Desjardin quoted me $1200 for my Vespa.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      When I insured my previous 49cc (I also had a Vino), I think the insurance came out to $12.50/month. And yeah, I'll definitely consider getting my motorcycle license sooner, rather than later!

  5. Ban Clothing says:

    I recently bought a motorcycle and never looked back. I got it for $1500 and insurance and gas are $25/month. I love scooters however, I live in the burbs too but need to be able to drive 100km/hr on the highway into the city. I have a 650cc and it certainly has enough power. You might have your heart set on a scooter but if not a motorcycle could be another option. I took a 'learn to ride a motorcycle' course and it was $550… if you know someone who can devote a day to riding around a parking lot you can easily get your license without the course.
    My recent post Gratitude

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yeah those motorcycle courses are pretty expensive. I really prefer scooters to motorcycles (not just in how they ride, but the lifestyle of it as well), and since I live closer to town now, I can take non-highway roads during my commute.

  6. SP says:

    You've come full circle! Next thing we know you'll be moving in with your parents (JUST KIDDING) and maxing out your RRSPs again (not kidding on that one – I bet you will be soon!)

    Are scotters common there? LA seems like a great town for scooters (not the freeways, obviously, just because of the climate) and I rarely see any. Not that they have to be common for them to be smart, I've just never heard of friends/coworkers considering scooters.

    Oh, and could a bike work for any of the shorter commutes? A lot of people bike around here! (I suppose that would be a lot more tiring!)
    My recent post No Spend Week Fail

  7. Haven't I ever told you my scooter joke? Of course not! Here goes:

    Having a scooter is kind of like dating a fat girl… It's fun, until your friends find out!

    Oh zing! I'm here all week kids. Try the veal.
    My recent post Should I Refinance My Mortgage?

  8. squasher55 says:

    Look into the Buddy scooters….they are made in Taiwan…not China. They are very good.
    http://www.genuinescooters.com/buddy.html

    Here in NM a 50 cc scooter does not need insurance, or a license, or a helmet. I have all 3 for safety reasons…..but not needed. Consider buying a used scooter….should be lots of them around in the Spring. Insurance is $89 for the whole year….maybe not in Canada.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      To drive a 50cc scooter here, you need insurance/license/helmet, and I'm really surprised there are places where that isn't required! I would definitely consider a used scooter, as long as it was in good condition. I would prefer to buy new, because some people can really abuse their scooters, and you never know how the last owner treated it.

  9. Money Rabbit says:

    I am a bad PF blogger right now, because I'm thinking go for it.

    You work so freaking hard, bringing in sometimes an extra $1000 a week as a net above and beyond your FT income. You're a semi-single gal with a ton of commitments and activities. Now that I own a car, I would definitely contemplate a scooter, but only once I paid off my car and have the extra income to support it.

    You're young. You work insanely hard, and make wise investment choices. Why not have a little fun with that hard earned money? It's not a vanity choice, you will genuinely use it. Even if it costs you an extra $100-$200 once everything averages itself out (mileage saved, parking costs, etc) it may be worth it to not have the headache of dealing with a car, and to have the flexibility to zip around to your commitments. Although I agree … maybe $5000 is a little steep.
    My recent post Mission: Income Diversification

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yeah, I don't want to be like "oh I deserve it," but I do work really hard. And I spend my money wisely. I also just got a new writing gig, and that's going to push my freelance income up a lot, so maybe $5,000 doesn't seem to bad after all.

    • Preet says:

      Being a PF blogger doesn't mean you can't indulge. :)

      I've always said, that as long as you run a surplus, pay down high interest debt aggressively, and disaster proof your life you should feel free to go to town with your surplus every now and then. There's a balance to be struck.

      • Mike Holman says:

        Preet, maybe you should post a pic of your 2-wheeled toy. :)

        Agreed – as long as the financial basics are taken care of, then anything goes after that. The whole point of being financially responsible is to build up wealth so you can do nice vacations, have a scooter, buy a boat – or whatever it is you are interested in.

        • Krystal Yee says:

          I saw Preet's motorcycle on his Facebook. So hardcore! I think I'll stick to cute little scooters for now. :)

          Thanks for the advice you two. It's just so weird to finally be in a good financial position, where I can afford to even think about having a luxury like a scooter. Time to start saving my cash for the big purchase!

  10. Money Rabbit says:

    (it cut me off because I'm too chatty)
    See…I'm a bad bad PFer. I'm recommending a want and not a need. But seriously, sometimes you earn these things. It's not like you're contemplating buying a Beamer.
    My recent post Mission: Income Diversification

  11. Wow – $550 to learn to ride a motorcycle??? Our safety course down here is completely free (paid for via license fee). They not only teach you how to ride, but then also license you at the end.
    My recent post Is your retirement plan severance proof?

  12. Krystal Yee says:

    Hahaha I know, isn't it weird? My first scooter was purchased to help me save money. And now I'm looking to buy one to have some fun. So crazy.

    Scooters are pretty common here. I see them all the time, and I'm surprised that they aren't that common down where you are! I would expect them to be way more "in" than up here.

    What I don't like about a bike is I get really sweaty. And at work, there isn't a shower (okay there's one, but it's in the men's washroom).

  13. shoegal0424 says:

    I agree with Money Rabbit, despite this being a want its a very good investment. Are you allowed to park scooters on the sidewalk or do you have to pay for parking?
    My recent post stocks

    • Krystal Yee says:

      It's technically illegal to park a motor vehicle on a sidewalk, so I would have to pay for parking on the street. But I'm thinking more along the lines of residential parking, and squeezing into smaller spaces. They have smart car specific parking spots, which I'm allowed to park my scooter in, so that's also convenient too.

  14. MommaStar says:

    I really want a scooter but with where I live it def. would not be safe to stroll the streets with it. I have been tryin to get hubby to agree on me having a scooter just for work and back since I live a block away but he refuse to agree. Which I find very annoying when he travels 30 + miles to work on his Ninja blah…
    My recent post Weekly Spending 08/08-08/13

  15. martilyo says:

    Is it a want? You betcha! So what? If you can cash flow it and not borrow money (read loan) to buy it, I'd say go for it.

    Martilyo http://angrymillionaire.com

    My recent post If you want to be wealthy, figure out what broke people are doing and run the other way!

  16. Krystal Yee says:

    Hahaha I want to high-five the person who gave your comment a thumbs down. That's awesome.

    • TKO from Ontario says:

      Just like bikes and scooters, some people are built for speed and some are built for comfort.

      Hardly Hi Five worthy.

      So Krystal pays off her car loan, instead of making a larger down payment on her mortgage and to save on CMHC fees.
      With the savings she could have bought a Vespa scooter.

      Definite Financial Epic Fail, and that's worth a Face Palm. (Just googe image it!)

  17. Commuting can really add up and end up taking a large chunk of our lives away.

    If you can afford it and don't have to get a loan, maybe it's the right thing to do for you. $5,000 does seem kinda spendy, but I don't really know how much they go for anyways. :-) Just my opinion.

    Jen
    My recent post How to Get $100 in Visa Cards From UsBank

  18. That would be so cool! I'd totally want one but I'm scared of traffic while cycling, and I think I might be even more scared of cars with one of those.

  19. frugalforties says:

    It's more a want than a need, but it's a want that you can justify to some degree as opposed to a completely frivolous want. IMO, those are two different things. :)

    I also want a scooter for many of the same reasons. Right now with gas prices where they are I put $60 worth of gas in my car a week. I live in a climate where riding a scooter or a bike is possible probably 8-9 months out of the year. Even if I only rode it to work 3 days a week, I could probably stretch my tank of gas to 2 weeks or more. That would save me ~$130 a month in gas alone. Not to count that it would mean I'd be changing the oil once every 4 or 5 months as opposed to every 2-3 months, that I'd be rotating tires less, etc.

    Plus, I'd probably use the scooter for more of my short local errands like running to the grocery store and so forth, so potential savings are even higher.

    It would probably take me about a year to break even (assuming gas prices stayed about the same) and after that I'd actually come out ahead (albeit by only a little) to keep the scooter.

    Right now I can't justify the initial expense, but at some point I think it will make sense for me.

  20. How about a used scooter? You might have to factor in getting your motorcycle license. I got my motorcycle license a few years back and spent $600 on a course. Then had to get a motorcycle because I had spent $600 on getting my license and being "street aware" LOL.

    I bought a motorcycle for $3500 and then realized I wanted something "commuter friendly" and I would rather spend $3500 on a trip or for my down payment. I ended up selling my motorcycle for $3200 2 years later and that was with 2 scratches from me dropping it!

    If you are able to not pay for insurance for the 6 months for your car, then it might be a good idea. But judging from the amount of rain we get in Vancouver, you might not be riding it that much? (unless you ride a lot in the rain)

    My recent post youngandthrifty Cheap and Good Eats: Home Made Vietnamese Spring Rolls Edition

  21. oooo! Keep us posted on this. I've wanted a Vespa for forever, and may yet get one although way up here in the north I won't be able to use it8 months of the year. ahhh, but those other 4 months. Those other 4 months.
    My recent post Work and Your wallet: Workplace Bullying

  22. StackingCash says:

    I miss my motorcycle. So fun! I do not miss the near death experiences avoiding idiot drivers. I'm surprised no one mentioned the chance of getting injured or killed riding a scooter in the city. Who cares about personal finance then?

  23. Zoe says:

    I have had my 125 Yamaha Vino scooter in San Francisco for 2 years now. Take the M1 Written Permit test and you will be good to go. I found mine on craigslist and brought it to a mechanic for a check-up and once it cleared out in perfect running condition I spent 1,600 so I have no idea why you keep saying 5000. Unless you want a new vespa. It is the best investment ever, especially considering parking costs, parking tickets and gas prices in a city. Best Idea Ever.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yeah, if I got a scooter, I’d like to get a Vespa. :) But, after thinking about it over the past few years, a scooter isn’t exactly practical in Vancouver. I think it would be pretty dangerous to try and ride on the highways that connect Vancouver together, and taking back roads isn’t really possible when the city is divided by water (and you always have to cross bridges). I don’t know. I had my scooter here in Vancouver for about a year, and rarely road it because it’s just not safe to go farther than just around the neighbourhood. And if that’s the case, then I can just ride my bicycle.

  24. Beth says:

    Hey, why dont you get a electric assist bike. I have been riding my cargo electric bike all year round for 3.5 yrs. I’ve carry my kids and cargo, now I ride it to work. No insurance through ICBC, just have property insurance. We have one car that’s all. It has been really great for me. Faster and cheaper.

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