Monday, April 11, 2011

I Get Around - On a Bike that is...

What's with her face!?

Gail recommends that we put 15% of our income toward the cost of transportation. This figure covers maintenance, insurance, licensing, gas, parking, and whatever the he££ else you’re spending on your car. Perhaps some of those fuzzy dice or maybe some air freshener or one of those hula girls that shake their hips when you hit a pothole – I don’t judge. The 15% would also cover the costs of taking public transit for all you people saying “but I don’t drive, John!” - you guys can be so whiny sometimes. Recently I got driven around by a friend and noticed the cost of gas was at $1.26 per litre and I couldn’t believe my eyes or the smell coming from my freshly $hat pants. When you don’t drive anywhere and never have to pay for gas, you stop thinking about the cost of fuel – and it’s a great feeling to stop caring about that $hit.

Currently I have a mere <1% of my weekly budget allocated to transportation. How do I manage to live on $6.00 or less per week for transportation when that won’t even by 5 litres of gas you ask? Well that’s simple. Fortunately, I live within walking distance of my work. In fact, I only live a 3 minute walk from where I work. What is really surprising is that I still manage to show up 2 minutes late at least once per week – sorry boss (yes my boss reads my blog). Also, all my friends live within a 30 minute walking radius from where I live so I never spend money going to see them – if they don’t live near me, odds are I see them about once a year or I take that six dollars and use it for some bus tickets to take a trip out to the, *eye-roll*, suburbs and visit them. So for those reasons, I have not found any need to be a car owner.

Kathy, or Katherine when she was a B....
Now I do know how convenient it is to have a car because at one point in my life, I did own a one. She was a Shiny, silver, mint condition, lady-driven, Dodge Aries, K-car… Okay, so my car was a total $hit box, but she was incredibly cheap to drive and to fix and for all intensive purposes, she served me well. Her name was Kathy when she was being bad-a$$, or Katherine when she was being a butt sniffer – apologies in advance the seventy-five Katherines, Catherines, and Kathryns I know, I needed a name that started with K back then and most of you all go by Kate anyway! We met in the summer of 2000 and for the steal of a deal price of $1,000, she was mine. I really got used to having a car, but when the time came that I decided to move myself across the country, I sold her for maybe $200? I can’t remember, but I’m sure that was overpriced and someone was cursing my name.

Now those are some firm buns!
When I got my new home, I found an instant requirement to drive a car. We lived in such a remote community, there was no transit service (the people in that neighbourhood were so wealthy that they would rather buy their kid a Lexus rather than spend their tax dollars on public transit). My aunt and uncle would let me borrow one of their vehicles in order for me to get around and have a social life, so I would make the 1 hour (2 hours in the rain or snow) drive to downtown everyday. It was costing me $10 per day for gas, and $10 per day for parking – yes I felt automotively-abused.  Once I moved away from there and into downtown, I had absolutely no need for a car. I lived 30 minutes walking distance from where I worked which kept me active and my buns nice and firm. It’s now been six years since I have owned a car.

“Well that was a nice pointless story John” – I know that’s what you’re thinking, but the point I am trying to emphasize is that you can save a lot of money if you can find ways to drive less. When you’re making a budget, one often looks at the amount of money that they can spend on getting around and they instantly think that it is not achievable, but it is. There are so many ways that you can cut your costs on transit. Here are some of the obvious ideas in my mind:

  1. Plan your trips out. Whether it is getting groceries, going to the mall, or any other chores, think about how you can do as many things within the same area without making multiple trips throughout the week – you’ll save on time and on gas.

  1. Carpool. You see the same people on the way for your daily commute everyday, so why not travel together and split the cost on fuel? This applies to your kids’ little league games, road trips, and anything else you can think of where your friends and neighbours would be interested in going with you.

  1. Take the bus or subway. If you’re doing a daily commute everyday, why not use the transit that your taxes are paying for? Think of the immediate benefits – no gas, no traffic, no parking, no added mileage, and the list goes on.

  1. Walk or bike – this is as cheap as it gets and you’ll get healthier too. I’m not kidding when I say that I am in great shape and it’s mostly based on the fact that I am always walking or biking everywhere. I even bought my bike at a bike co-op for only $40 and it was one of the best investments I ever made.

  1. Work from home. If you have a boss that is willing, try working a few days a week at home and only come in when there are important meetings. No commuting for you!

  1. Move closer to where you work. Think about it. Are you paying $100 a month for a bus pass, or $75 per week for parking? Seems a bit ridiculous if you ask me. If you’re renting a place anyway and you think that you can’t afford an extra $100 a month for rent to live closer to where you work, the reality is that you can if you cut out all those transportation costs. Walk around the neighbourhoods where you work and time it out to see how long it would take you to walk or bike to work. Not only do I get to wake up 30 minutes before I start my shift, I also get to come home at lunch everyday and make myself something fresh to eat and it is amazing. I save on transportation and on food costs too! And think about all the time you save – 1 hour commute or 3 minute walk – it’s a no-brainer for me.

  1. Ditch the gas-guzzler. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but driving around in a Hummer makes you look like a giant gas hole. Buy a car with low gas mileage or maybe one of those fancy electric cars, however please don’t get all smug about it. I realize I’m not making a lot of friends by preaching about gas consumption, but let’s not forget the context here, this is a financial blog and financially, I don’t see any added benefit to driving something that eats money as fast as you make it.

So that’s my rant for this week. If you have any ideas on how to save on transportation costs, I would love it if you shared them in the comments section. Thanks for reading!


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