Ya’ll. I took the plunge. A week prior to writing this post I went all in on eliminating debt and I finally sold my car.
I’ve been thinking about going car free for a few months now, going as far to try to act like I didn’t have a car and using my bike or public transportation for any intra-city travels.
After months of practice, I finally pulled the trigger.
Fortunately, I live in a place that is extremely bike friendly. I live less than two miles from almost everything including work, church, the library, my physician, the grocery store, the dry cleaner, etc. Additionally, my city has a great vehicle ride share program that is an affordable option if I need a car for a limited time on random occasion.
I’m feeling equal parts excited and terrified, liberated and constrained.
So why did I do it?
I am all about trying new things and trying to push my limits. I know not everyone can go car free, but for me it represents a fun adventure. As one of my good friends often says, “Live the better story.” I can likely buy another car in the future, but I may not always live in a city that provides opportunities for a car free life. Why not choose to live the adventure?
There’s a plethora of added benefits that I’ve already experienced from going car free. I feel more a part of the city than ever before. I am forced to slow down. I have been able to enjoy architecture, infrastructure, sights, sounds, etc. that I easily overlooked when I would commute by car. I have a couple of new “spots” that really spark my creativity. I’m currently sitting in one of those “spots,” in a hammock at a park that’s a few hundred feet from my house.
I’ve also enjoyed being forced to exist in a smaller part of the city. It’s been really cool to reduce my social circle down to a few mile radius around where I live. I notice people around me more often, and I have become more in touch with my community. I’ve become a regular at a couple of places, and I’ve been able to get to know some really nice staff and people at those establishments.
I can’t say it’s been all great. There have definitely been challenges, and I miss some freedom that comes with the ability to jump in the car and drive. However, any adventure worth having has at least a few bumps in the road.
I find beauty in efficiency. I look for ways to save time, energy, and money in order to be a good steward of what I have. There are few things that are less efficient than using a 2 ton hunk of metal to transport my 190 pound body 1.5 miles from where I live to where I work. I have a perfectly adequate bicycle and a healthy pair of legs. You can’t get more efficient than that.
Now that I don’t have a car, I bike or walk everywhere. On rare occasion, I will use a car sharing service, but most of my travels are now powered by my body. This is a great boost to my physical fitness. I go to the gym a few times a week already, but there’s never a down side to getting in a little extra cardio work.
As I mentioned earlier, my work place is only a mile and a half from my house. That’s not far at all, but three miles per day roundtrip for five days a week adds up to 60 miles of biking in one month. That’s only including my commute, and not my rides to church, the store, or literally anywhere else. I probably log between 75-100 miles a month now. Those aren’t crazy numbers for cyclists or elite athletes, but that’s way more than the 0 miles per month I was getting before I bought my bike.
I feel better now that I’m using my body to efficiently power my transportation, and now I actually look forward to walking or biking to my destination.
Finally, I sold the car for the immediate financial benefit. My car was paid off, but the offer was more than fair and it allowed me to eliminate about one third of my total outstanding student loan debt. By eliminating those payments, I will be saving a great deal of money that I would have been paying in interest. I’m also 33% closer to being completely debt free!
In addition to the benefits that come with paying off a large chunk of debt, I’m also saving almost $300 a month in other costs just by not having a vehicle. I won’t be using money for insurance, gas, parking, maintenance, car washes, etc.
Additionally, I’ll likely be making less frivolous trips to restaurants, shopping malls, or to go grab a treat from the store. While those savings aren’t defined and I’m not including them in my savings calculations, I’m sure there will be a fiscal impact over the long run.
In full disclosure, I will have other transportation costs that will increase. I’ll be using the occasional rental car, city bus, car share, uber, etc. However, I estimate that even when including all of those costs I’ll still be saving at minimum $200 dollars per month. That’s $2,400 more dollars per year that I can throw toward my debt!
Not only will there be quantifiable decreases in my spending from selling my car, there will also likely be a decrease in health care costs linked to a more active lifestyle. Going car free is a financial win in almost every single area of my life!
I’ve always been a proponent of going all in. I don’t like doing things halfway, so when I set a goal I try to do everything I can to make it happen. I knew that owning a car was extremely inefficient for me in this season of life, so I had to take actions that lined up with my values.
I’m proud to have taken this step, and I’m excited about the adventure and the challenges that I’m sure will come along the way!
What about you? How are you sacrificing to reach your goals? What are some ways that you can take drastic action to reach attack your debt and live more efficiently? Let me know in the comments!