Michelle Jackson regrets arriving late to the art of driving and pushes the pedal to make up for lost time.

Watch Out! Miss Jackson Is Learning to Drive

Watch Out! Miss Jackson Is Learning to Drive

These days I am learning how to drive. No, I am not a teenager. I am way past that stage. But I am sharing my story so that you can avoid having to learn to drive as an adult. Why am I learning so late? Because I didn’t have access to a car and my mom didn’t have enough time to teach me.

Let me be clear – my mom owned a car during my high school years, but she needed the car so that she could drive to one of her three jobs. Yes, she worked three jobs. Fortunately, I was pretty self-sufficient, so I was able to get around town by taking public transit or the yellow school bus.

I didn’t feel weird or ashamed about not knowing how to drive because I’m a bit of a hippy and I was still getting where I needed to go. Instead of saving for a car, I used my money towards cheerleading, and I was really happy making that choice.

That is, until the day I realized that it was a bit unusual that I couldn’t drive, and that it was not only messing with my ability to get around town, but potentially hitting me where it hurts most: my wallet.

If you’re in high school or just started college I would like to strongly encourage you to learn to drive NOW. But, there are some things that you need to take into account.

Learning to drive without regular access to a car is expensive! Currently I pay around $70 on average for an hour of driving instruction. If you have a friend who feels comfortable with you driving his or her car (and potentially bumping into things with it) see if you can pay half the price to let you practice driving.

The younger you are, the more road practice you will need before getting your license. I think this is great, but it is certainly not cheap.

I ended up purchasing a very inexpensive used car that I could practice in with friends who were willing to drive around with me. I just had to get a willing victim – I mean, friend – to help for a couple of hours. It was easier to do this after I took actual lessons.

So how can you do this? Side hustle your way to driving success! Pick a couple of fun side hustles that you can do to earn at least $800 to go towards around 12 hours of driving instruction.

The older I got, the more I noticed job listings that required applicants to have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record. Well, my driving record was so clean it was non-existent.

My Used Car

A friend of mine was moving out of state and had a great used car that she didn’t want to keep. I ended up it buying it for $1,500 – the same amount that I paid for my Mac. Even though I had to pay for insurance on the car and other small expenses, it has been a great ride when my friends are willing to sit with me.

They don’t have to worry about me damaging their car, I get to practice as much as I would like, and I can bribe them with coffee or a meal instead of paying $30 bucks an hour to use their cars.

Once I receive my license, I will immediately have a car available that I can take anywhere solo, which is awesome. Or I could sell my car and pay a bill. Choices.

 What If You Don’t Want to Own a Car?

I totally understand! That was part of why I delayed learning for so long. I just didn’t want to deal with the cost of owning a car. You have to pay for the insurance, title, emissions testing, gas, and tune-ups. Fortunately, I was able to work a job that paid for my transportation.

The entire time I worked my previous job, I didn’t pay for transport, and it was wonderful, as I saved thousands in upkeep, gas expenses – the list goes on.

If you don’t want to own a car, you have a number of inexpensive ways you can get around town: use Uber and share your referral link to earn credit towards your next ride.

Take public transit around town. It’s $5.20 for a day pass for bus and light rail in my town. Look into participating in a car share program such as: Ego, ZipCar, or Car2Go. Be aware that you typically need at least two years of driving experience in order to participate in a car-sharing program.

Knowing how to drive is important as you get older. It’s not always just about freedom and mobility. I realize now that driving is about being able to grab opportunities – at least, till the time we turn the entire thing over to autonomous vehicles.

For more from author Michelle Jackson, click here