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.