Over the next few weeks, I’ll be running a short series on how you can save some money and live a bit greener this summer by taking some very simple steps. I enjoy the warmth of the spring and summer time, and all of the delicious foods that it brings along with it. The berries, summer squash, warm weather, longer days, more nighttime activities in the community (at least for me) and generally a great time for relaxation and fun. Because there’s more time during the day, I figured I’d throw out a few tips to green up your summers. This is the third entry in the series.
Like I mentioned earlier, I really enjoy walking and biking. Not sure where this came from, but it probably started sometime when I was little and went out riding my bike with all of my friends. Headed over to the park, to play football or do whatever. Life was easy then. Unfortunately, this slowed when I got to middle school – I couldn’t ride my bike to school anymore (It was too far, and crossing too many busy streets, my parents said). I still was able to ride my bike on the weekend, but not much more than that. High school was more of the same, as it was near my middle school, but it didnt matter then: I was going to have a car for part of it.
Soon after I got a vehicle, I felt like every american: Freedom of the congested road, frustration with maintenance issues, and increased expenses. I just took it as a sign of growing up: something that I’m supposed to do/have when I get older. I got to university and despite all my bellyaching, my dad said I didn’t need a car in college. I continued to whine, but time bore out his statement: I didn’t – I got along just fine with out it. I enjoyed not having a car so much, actually, that I really wanted to continue this phase of my existance.
Lower Expenses, Better Health
Expenses were low for me (basically rent, food and tuition) so I didn’t mind not having a car – I walked, skateboarded or rode the bus where I needed to go. I was able to live without a car for 4 years, and when the time came to start looking for a job, I knew sort of what I wanted to do, but I knew a lot about where I wanted to live: somewhere near my office, so that I wouldn’t need to spend a lot of time in the car. Well, after a bit of searching, I decided that I should go to grad school instead – a decision that I still haven’t made up my mind about, but that’s another story. Either way, I was able to live without a car during grad school as well, although it required a bit more work because of the layout of the town and the needs that I had. I still walked to work and enjoyed it, but when I needed to make a large purchase, I had to have some help getting there and back – which wasn’t hard to find. I knew that I didn’t want to do much driving, so this time, I looked for jobs that would help me out with that.
Unfortunately, I had difficulty finding a job that would let me do that, and real life was knocking on my door and invading my mailbox. I needed to pay credit card bills, my student loan grace period was expiring, and I still had to eat! At that point, anything was better than nothing, so I found a job 50 miles from my house. Then I found another one. Less than 6 months after looking for a job that I could walk or bike to, I had 2 that I had to drive to, and an unreliable vehicle.
So, now that I’ve gotten a new job where I’m able to walk, you can bet that I’ll definately be enjoying that fact when summer rolls around and I’m taking a 10 minute stroll over to my office. I’ve been able to free up at least 400 per month in gas expenses (and who knows where the price will stabilize again) and enjoy my commute to work much more than I previously was. I’m saving gas money, saving time, and emitting less in terms of emissions from the vehicle. There’s also no parking costs, and I don’t have very high likelihood of getting a ticket if I’m not driving. While I can walk any time, the warm air of the summer sure makes it a lot more fun – you should take advantage of it too.
More importantly, I can live the lifestyle that I was able to enjoy from 2003-2009. Welcome back, walking – help me stay healthy and save me some money!
Do you ever walk/bike to work? Do you live too far away, or do you just not like to walk/bike? How do you feel about people who do get to bike everywhere?