Welcome to my blog. I want to share my experiences with finances while in the Air Force and document my path to Financial Independence and Early Retirement.

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How I save $50 a week

How I save $50 a week

I recently PCS’d to what is supposed to be one of the most expensive duty stations: Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. But, since my PCS, I’ve made some big improvements to my finances to the point that I may actually be spending less monthly than I was in California. The first one I’m going to cover is straight out of the Mr. Money Mustache playbook. I bought a bicycle.

I now live in a location that allows year round bicycle commuting. I also decided I wanted to start training to compete in an Ironman Triathlon within the next 1-2 years. I went to a local bike shop and asked for a bicycle that would work for commuting ~11 miles each way through the city. I settled on a mid-range Specialized and so far it has been a great experience. I certainly could have been more “FI” about the purchase by trawling Craigslist or Facebook sales until I found a good bike for half the price, but I decided to take advantage of the convenience of buying from a store with people who know more about bicycles than I do. I wouldn’t have known how to even pick out the right sized bicycle for myself if I had bought used. Regardless, my next bicycle purchase, whenever it comes around, will be of a used bicycle now that I feel comfortable.

Now, onto all the amazing benefits that go beyond simple finances. I’ll talk about finances first, though. 11 miles each way doesn’t sound like a long commute, but in Honolulu rush hour traffic that can mean up to an hour of sitting in traffic each way. That’s a lot of time in my beater 1994 Ford Ranger. It burns a lot of gas and I find that 1 week of driving to work, which I did during a recent exercise, cost me somewhere just north of $50 to refill 3/4 tank. I got much better mileage in California, but that was because I had nice open country roads to drive to work. So that’s the basic concept of how I calculate $50/week. But there’s more that I’m not adding. I would need to do more maintenance on my old truck if it were being used 10 hours a week. I would have to pay higher insurance rates for the higher mileage. I would be a lot more likely to break down (because the truck is old) and need to spend money on a tow. I’m much more likely to get a ticket even though I consider myself a pretty good driver. I also save some money by showering/shaving/brushing my teeth at the gym on base instead of at home.

The next benefit is my favorite. When I ride my bicycle into work, I start my day invigorated and feeling like I accomplished something. During my 35-60 minute bicycle commute, I have time to think, can listen to music or a book on my small waterproof speaker, and I have to focus on what I’m doing because a lapse in focus on a busy city road can mean dying. I know that last one doesn’t sound like a good thing, but you’d be amazed what having to focus for a couple of hours a day can do for your mental health. The days I drive I feel like I’m in a haze compared to my bike ride days.

The next really fantastic benefit is that I can double the amount of time I spend working out while saving time in my day. Here’s how I work that out: ~2 hours of driving and 1 hour in the gym would mean I spent 3 hours of my day on those two activities. By combining my workout with my commute, I suddenly save a full hour because I’m exercising and commuting at the same time for ~2 hours a day.

There you have it. Why don’t you bike commute?

This is going to be the first in a series of articles about how I’m making my life in Hawaii cheaper than my life on the mainland. Stay tuned.

How to Save Money While Deployed

How to Save Money While Deployed