Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living

If we're having to downshift, let's lose the wheels as well

Well, there's always the car. To be got rid of, that is. I know I've just given up my black cab habit, but how about dumping the car and reappraising my love affair with Computer Cab? The average annual cost of a family-size car must be around £3,000, what with insurance, tax and those pesky parking fines, not to mention the Congestion Charge. Well, to spend that on cabs I figure you'd have to take 300 long-ish trips a year, which is going it some, even for me. And that's before petrol – which, for our giant Volvo, almost requires a sub-prime mortgage every time you visit Shell. Last year, my accounts reveal I spent £500 on taxis and £1,000 on petrol – so even if my taxi usage went up by 50 per cent, I would still be saving about £3,300.

Of course, everyone is having the same sort of idea. My neighbour told me about a friend of his in Notting Hill who has just given up her car addiction and now relies on cabs or hire cars for those key weekend family outings to, er, DiggerWorld. Hire cars are great. Nothing accelerates quite like a hire car. In our case, as family outings to DiggerWorld etc are always marked by someone throwing up in the back, nothing smells quite like a hire car.

How much is a hire car for the weekend? About £80. So you'd have to hire one 37 times before you start spending anything like what you're spending on the Volvo. And no one could want to go to DiggerWorld every 10 days, no matter how wonderful it is to gambol around a muddy field in north Kent, driving JCB tractors or trying to knock down skittles with a demolition ball. Plus, a hire car is not only clean every time, but you can try out different styles, colour schemes and upholstery trims every week, which satisfies the Anna Wintour in me.

So, the idea is this. Get the family Volvo in a state to flog it. First, hammer out that giant dent inflicted by moi en route out of the Barbican car park. Whoever thought that putting huge, invisible concrete pillars in a car park was a smart move needs their head examining, but there we are.

So, get the Volvo mended. And, of course, disinfected. Then sell it. And start living without a car. Immediately I suggest this, Mr Millard starts finding fault. Well, there are all those golfing days and cricket matches that he absolutely has to go to. Not to mention essential food-buying trips to Lidl, now that we have given up deliveries from Ocado, tesco.com and (sob) The White Company.

All right, on to Plan B. Sell the Volvo, which does about two miles to the gallon, and invest in (yippee) a chic Mini, which does about 200. For big family trips, hire a car. Or go by train, which scotches the throwing-up option.

Investing in a tiny motor is delightfully counterintuitive. Rather than becoming like other people with giant families, who tend to say things like: "Well, you know, when we decided to up the stakes from two children to three, Justin said it was high time we invested in a people mover," we're doing the exact opposite. Now that we have four children, a nanny and a dog, we are dumping the seven-seater Volvo and proposing to go for a) public transport, and b) a tiny thing seating three, at a pinch.

Clearly worried that his sporting equipment will be imperilled, Mr Millard calls attention to the minuscule boot of the Mini. "We should really have a tiny hatchback," he says. There is, of course, already a Mini hatchback out there (the Clubman), but since this has just come on the market and – get ready for it – manages to retail for an eye-watering £16,000, it sort of defeats the money-saving point.

I think we should hang the golf clubs and go for something utterly tiny, like a Smart. Or one that runs on electricity. So, not only no Volvo, but also no wallet-draining moments at Shell. I'm the one with the three-pin plug attached to my car. I think the electricity means we'll even evade the Congestion Charge.

I could also avoid signing the children up for hugely expensive after-school and half-term sports classes. What with the average speed of traffic in London, I could use my almost nil carbon-footprint electric motor for any bags, shopping etc, and train the children to get fit by running alongside it as I pootle down the Euston Road. Talk about achieving two fashionably sound ideas with one brainwave.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

    Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

    Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

    Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect