30 Car-Free Years: Cycling Pumps Money into My Wallet

Cycling around in a neighbourhood designed for walking and cycling. Here, roads are not built for cars. Malmo, Sweden 2010. Photo by J. Chong. Bikes parked by home, not cars.

Cycling around in a neighbourhood designed for walking and cycling. Here, roads are not built for cars. Malmo, Sweden 2010. Photo by J. Chong. Bikes parked by home, not cars.

I’ve been wanting to write this article for awhile:  how cycling can change your spending habits.  I should know –I haven’t lived in a household with a car for over the past 30 years. Yup. It really has been a car-free joy “ride” to financial liberation.

I have been cycling  over the past 19  years.  By moving to a cycling lifestyle, you redirect your money for things you really want, instead of sitting in car-clogged traffic while gas money is literally vapourizing away.

So if I may offer, over a quarter century of homespun, financial savvy on what it truly means to live a cycling lifestyle, dollar-wise:

  • Less  impulsive purchases
  • Buy what you need, what you really want  –that includes buying less  junk food. After all, you have to cart the weight away by bike  and chug up the hill with loaded panniers.
  • Buy less fashionista clothing –my attention is more on cycling clothing.
  • No knowledge of gas prices and pricing wars.   I have been blissfully ignorant for over a quarter century.  I am psychologically freed from vehicle gas costs. I’m only aware of fuel costs  –when I pay for a plane ticket.
  • Less window-shopping.  I am more focused when I shop.  If an area doesn’t offer a place to lock up my bike safely, I go somewhere else.

So really what have I done with the money I have saved by not owning nor driving a car, for all these years?  I have redirected my  precious dollars:

  • Bought my own home—mortgage-free.
  • Several memorable cycling vacation trips, in Ontario, Quebec, Maritimes, Alberta, British Columbia, Hawaii, New England, Washington,  Oregon, California and some  European countries.  I support  the local economy as a cycling tourist.
  • 3 bikes   –all add up to less than cost of a used car.
  • Cycling clothing and equipment  –equivalent to car tune-ups and repairs costs.
  • Nice restaurant meals on bike vacation trips.  “Fuel money” for our body. Instead of gas.
  • Money  to take other plane trips to see family. So yes, from car fuel to plane fuel, which I can only justify because I don’t do it often.  However these trips are essential for my soul.
  • Occasional evening art courses over the years. ( I created some of my own art which adorn my walls.)
  • Replaced 1 desktop computer with another new computer plus a new couch and bed.

I am pleased to say that I have reaped the benefits of living within a 15 min. walk or less from public transit and cycling infrastructure for the cities of: Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

All three cities do have areas that are more time-consuming, transportation-wise  but I simply focused only on neighbourhoods where I could  live a car-free life.  There are trade-offs but  a peace of mind and healthier lifestyle, is what draws me to cycling lifestyle and walkable-bikeable area.

Cost of Car Ownership and Driving
For major Canadian cities, a parking spot for a residential building costs approximately $30,000 – $50,000 with Vancouver at the higher range.   In 2010 the Canadian Automobile Association estimated cost for a small car at $18.00  daily which includes owning and driving a car (based on 18,000 km. mileage annually or 49 km. daily).  Add on parking and now total costs could be easily be $30.00 daily.

Thanks to 30 years of car abstinence, I have $328,000 to spend on other things.

If you still don’t believe this money-saving wizardy, check out your car credit bills.

— Jean Chong

Source: http://thirdwavecyclingblog.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/30-car-free-years-cycling-pumps-money-into-my-wallet/

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