Your money and your life: ditching your car gives you more of both.

Your money and your life: ditching your car gives you more of both.

By Lloyd Alter

We all know that cars cost a lot of money, but John Heinzl, writing in the Investor Clinic of the Globe and Mail, explains how much he has saved over the years by not having one. He starts off with the obligatory “I know, I know. Some people need to own a car.” But he then describes how he has lived without one for ten years, using transit, car sharing, bikes and walking.

He first notes that in Canada, the average midsize car costs a user $10,789 per year including depreciation, maintenance, insurance, fuel, and other costs. The alternatives are not free, but are a lot cheaper. (Zach came up with different numbers in his post How transit & bikes paid for my home.

Most of those costs disappear when you don’t own a vehicle. Over the past 12 months, I spent just $2,643 on car rentals and car-sharing. Even after adding in the cost of public transit and fuel for car rentals (gas is included in the price of car-sharing) my all-in transportation costs were still comfortably under $4,000. Compared with car ownership, that’s a savings of about $7,000 a year – or more – that I can invest. Over 10 years, assuming a pretax return of, say, 8 per cent, it works out to an additional $156,000.

He does not explain where he gets a return of 8% on his money, but then he does run the Investor Clinic, perhaps that’s another story.

His recommendations for living without a car:

  • Get to know your transit system. It helps that he lives close to the subway in Toronto and has options, but this is clearly the single biggest factor in going car-free.
  • Get a bike.
  • Learn how to save money on car rentals.

Heinzl titled his post How to save thousands – and live longer, too but seems to have left the second part of it out of the story. However another financial advisor, Mr. Moneymustache, covers that story in his post Bicycling: The SAFEST Form of Transportation.

He munches on the American data for accidents per mile traveled, the benefits of exercise, and perhaps overstates the case just a little bit: “It is not an exaggeration to say that a bicycle is a money-printing fountain of youth, probably the single most important and highest-yielding investment a human can possibly own.”

Under even the most pessimistic of assumptions:

  • Net effect of driving a car at 65mph for one hour: Dying 20 minutes sooner. (18 seconds of life lost per mile)
  • Net effect of riding a bike at 12mph for one hour: Living 2 hours and 36 minutes longer (about 13 minutes of life gained per mile)

So really, if you want to live longer and richer, dump the car.

Dandy Horse Open April 3

Dandy Horse Open April 3

Cortes Island bicycle repair and maintenance services. Our store and mobile repair services are available. At Dandy Horse Bikes we feel that proper maintenance is essential to making your bike a joy to ride. We offer a full range of service on any bike. No repair is too small or too big for us to handle. Call us at (250)857-3520 or email dandyhorse@riseup.net for pricing on your next repair job. Need a quick fix, flats, new tires, brakes or gear adjustments? Maybe a safety check? Call us to make an appointment to get your bike tuned. Our operating hours are intermittent and not predictable at the moment. If you show up and there is nobody around you can do one or more of these three things: 1. Leave your bike in the rack with one of the combo locks supplied and leave a note or email or call with details (ie name, number, nature of the problem). 2. Holler really loud-we’re probably up in the garden, or 3. Go away and come back later.

Cortes Bike Fair Sat June 13th

Cortes Bike Fair Sat June 13th

Coming Sat June 13 at Mansons Hall : CBG presents the first ever amazingly spectacular Cortes Bike Fair! Bring your old bike for swap, sale or repair. Games, contests, bike-decorating, prizes, bike rodeo, demos, snax, bikes bikes bikes!!! It’s time people, you know you wanna ride.
Want to help make the bike madness happen? Contact Jodi at 935-6717.