A few months ago, I stumbled on a post by Mr. Money Mustache that really caught my attention. If you have never read Mr. Money Mustache’s blog, you are definitely missing out. His wit, candidness and very solid “mustachian” ideas are part of the cornerstone of my get of off debt quick philosophy.
This particular article scoffed at the horribly high amount that we as a society drive cars for incredibly insignificant reasons, highlighting on the fact that Americans typically use their car to drive terribly short distances that can easily be walked or biked to. This really resonated with me, so I searched his website and found several bike articles that can be found here and here.
It then hit me— how am I trying to save money and pay so much on my loans when I am missing one terribly simple way to help???
When I turned 12 my parents bought me a blue “Magna” mountain bike. I rode the crap out of this bike until it became super uncool in high school and I received my driver’s license (where of course I drove to and from school every day, although the school was only half a mile from my house). However, when I went to college I brought the bike with me and rode it to and from classes and for exercise. I then moved to Austin, the most bike-friendly city in America and rode my bike non-stop. Austin has bike lanes on all major roads and even most of the smaller ones and in neighborhoods. Not to mention- all city buses have bike racks on the front, which made it nice if you were going a longer distance.
Alas, when I graduated from UT, I was moving to North Carolina (this was only for a very brief stint). I had no idea if the city I was moving to was bike friendly coupled with the fact that the U-Haul was getting packed to the gills, so I decided to give away the Magna. It was a sad day, but North Carolina proved to be very unfitting for a bike.
Fast forward, and I now live back in Texas, bikeless, driving to and from every location I could ever need. Mind you, where I live anything I could possibly ever need is within a five mile radius.
Thanks to Mr. Money Mustache, a few weeks ago I saved up some cash from waiting tables and found a bike on Craig’s List for only 60 bucks! The bike has been reconditioned and is in great shape! And did I mention the best part? It’s a MAGNA! That’s right, my new bike is a distance relative of my beautiful old blue Magna, so I know that this baby will last for many years to come!
As with any vehicle I own, it simply must have a name. After riding this bike around for a few weeks and breaking it in, it has been dubbed… “El Fuego“. Why El Fuego? I’m so glad you asked! First, as a Spanish teacher, I love all things Spanish, so El Fuego fits that bill nicely. Not only, but el fuego in Spanish means fire, and this bike is “firing me up” to save money on gas and driving my car.
Okay, that last bit was extremely cheesy, but hey, El Fuego sounds pretty darn cool, so it’s here to stay.
Although I had taken el fuego around town for several leisurely rides, it was time to step it up and really start using el fuego to get around town. So today, I took el fuego to the grocery store. For all of you readers out there, let me preface this with the fact that the town (shall I say suburb) that I live in is not very bike friendly, and if you are under the age of 10 you get funny stares when riding your bike. This is by-in-large a horrible societal mindset, because bikes rock and have the potential to save us all so much money!
Needless to say, I got several funny glances as I rode el fuego to the store with that obnoxiously bright blue and pink basket (and pink u-lock!). All in all, the trip was a huge success. I was a little worried about whether or not the groceries would be to heavy for the basket, which has a limit of 11 pounds, so instead of bringing a purse I brought my backpack to put extra groceries in. The nice thing about my basket is that you can easily detach it and take it into the store with you (it has handles) and it works just like a reusable grocery bag. Before riding home, I only had to take out some of the heavy produce to place into my backpack and the basket fared just fine.
I was also a bit worried about where I would lock the bike, as my town is not incredibly bike friendly, there are not bike racks at most public shopping centers. However, I was able to ride around to the back of the store and find a ramp with handle bars that I was easily able to lock up to.
Besides getting to break in the bike for the first grocery run, the best part of this trip was the fact that I only spent $20.44. I saved 10% just by wearing my Cowboys jersey on a game day, too. I currently allocate $120 to groceries each budget cycle. Moving forward, I think I am going to try to cut that budget by $40-50. If I can make it spending only $20 a week, it would be a $40 savings. There will be more to come about the grocery list and a further explanation of why I allocate so much in a future post.
As for now, Happy Sunday! Get out there and enjoy the beautiful cool weather. I challenge you to forfeit your car for just one trip this week and walk or bike instead.