I’m Ditching the Car

Day 10 with no power here, folks.  With the Nor’easter on the way this evening, our house will be uninhabitable for sure.  I have to admit that I am getting to the end of my rope, but it is merely a “heat” issue, not anything else.  The good news: It’s my Birthday!

With the power outage came the gas shortage, and as I mentioned in previous posts, our cars were out of commission.  One is completely dead (not a battery issue) and the other had no gas in it until yesterday.  Therefore, the family heel-toed it everywhere we needed to go.

Now I know this will be preaching to the choir for all of my NYC friends, but I am here to state that I do not see any reason for my family to own 2 cars.  I am going to spend the next 4 months putting my theory to the test, and if I am correct….BYE BYE car!

Four short years ago I had a triangle commute:  NJ to Brooklyn (40 miles), Brooklyn to my College job in NJ (30 miles), and College back home (10 miles).  80 miles a day plus tolls added up to $250 in gas, $600 in tolls (!!!), and whatever amount in depreciation in my vehicle.  I owned a very nice car, since I justified being in it so much in order to own it, so let’s tack on a $400 car payment to that.

I spent $1250/month in freaking transportation costs without counting vehicle depreciation!!

I admit, life has been way better since getting a job 1 mile away from my home.  I still commute to 2 colleges, 3 days a week, but it is a whole different ball game now.

Many of you may be identifying with my old commute to some degree or another, but let me say this:  I was an idiot for moving farther away from a job I had as opposed to closer.  These are choices we make.

What could I have done with an extra $1250/month?  Let’s see, I could have

1.) Taken on an extra $100,000 in mortgage to break even and live closer,

2.) Live half as far away and save $600-$700 a month,

3.) Uhhhhh…….Live right there in a cheap home and put $1250 to college funds for my kids and/or retirement!!

Anyway, the commute is gone (more or less) and I live rather close to work.  If you check out the map below, try to picture my scene.  The letters represent schools that I supervise in my district.  School “H” is not pictured and can be found 1 mile south of school “D”.  School “I”, also not pictured, is 1 mile north of school “G”.  The distance between D and G is about 1.5 miles so you get an idea of scale.  I live between D and G, and my office is at G.  I spend 50% of my time at my office, and the rest of the time I need to spend at one of the other schools.

I have driven to all of these schools in my 3 years here, but this past week I have had to walk.  Guess what:  It’s been fine!  When I finally buy a bike in a few months, I can only imagine it will be really fine.  I have walked approximately 4 miles a day (bundled up..it’s cold), and since I have been triathlon training I am not breaking a sweat at that low intensity.  I have walked to stores and carried home goods as well.
So then the question is :  Do I ditch the car completely or do I park it in the driveway?  I think, for now, that parking it will be the right way to go, but I would be very excited to not have 2 cars in my family (cost reasons and carbon footprint).  I still need to commute to the colleges, but my wife and I could figure out our schedules and “swap” the car midday.  The idea of saving this kind of money while increasing my level of health seems like a no brainer.
What would you do in my situation?  Are we all too reliant on automobiles, which also suck the wealth right from under us?  Let me know your story in the comments.

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