I'm facing the prospect of replacing one of this '95 Nissan Maxima's "cousins".

I need to let you in on a secret: I'm looking at buying a used car.

No, no, not for day-to-day commuting. So long as I work at UCLA, I will be a dedicated "green" commuter.

If it were just me, living alone, I'd be car-free like this guy in Indianapolis.

I'd live in a location that was conducive to using alternative transportation to conduct what are called "discretionary trips". These are the trips that I take outside of my commute to work: to the grocery store, the dry cleaner, restaurants, to see friends, my parents' house.

But it's not just about me. I have a significant other who brought a car into our relationship. The car, however, is near the end of its useful life and needs costly repairs to run efficiently.

While our neighborhood is conducive to the completion of many discretionary trips on foot, many of our friends and our extended families live more than an hour away by mass transit or bike. It's a reflection of the vast size of the LA metro area.

Thus, my sig-o and I are looking at replacing his car with another used car. It's my first time shopping for a car. Previously, I'd borrowed cars from my parents, or rented a Zipcar. We're trying to be responsible by studying Consumer Reports and looking at small, high MPG vehicles. Getting a Prius is not out of the question.

However, I've got student loans and a wedding to pay for. The prospect of spending money on a car that I might drive just 100-150 miles a month is still mind boggling. It almost makes me want to get up and move to a more compact city with a robust transit system like this former Texas Rangers player.

I wonder how people manage to financially reconcile car ownership when they are primarily "car-lite". Thoughts?