Thursday, June 7, 2012

A one-car household once again

We sold the Land Rover last Thursday. June 1st was the next day, which meant our time was up, and we had to sell the car per our agreement with my girlfriend's dad. So we did. It's pretty easy to get a car dealership to cut you a check for a car you own outright. I had the car listed on Craigslist for about a month, though in retrospect I started the price off too high and didn't bring it down quickly enough. A lesson is learned: time is a good thing to have when you're selling something.

But that's alright because this is a step forward on the vehicular subchapter of my Mustachian journey. Today is Thursday again, which means we've been a single-car household for a week. And it's been pretty great! I've biked to work every day since we sold the car. I plan on continuing to bike to work every day until I get a new car. I'm not sure exactly when that will be. It's totally worth it not having to bum rides off my girlfriend — and I know she appreciates it.

We were a single-car household once before. A year or two ago, my girlfriend and I carpooled to work each day for a period of two or three months. This had the effect of doubling one of our commute times (from 10 to 20 minutes, so not bad). It was annoying at the time, though. I'm not sure why. Maybe a sense of entitlement on my part, or I was used to independence and not having my plans depend on someone else. Whatever it was, I feel like I've grown up since then.

I do find it really cool that I can rely on myself for transportation without the use of a car. I never imagined being in this position, either, but it's totally worth it. Yet another thing I owe to Mr. Money Mustache. I consider it a pretty big shift, and it's a shift for the better.

My legs are sore pretty much constantly nowadays, though it's not as bad as it sounds. I'm expecting that to go away in a week or two. As far as I'm concerned it's the feeling of my legs chiseling themselves into a finer specimen of humanity, and I'm okay with that. Stretching helps too.

Wow, I've written this much without even mentioning the money. Here's a really cool thing you'll find on your own path toward Mustachianism: after a while, the whole "saving money" thing fades into the background. You spend less time thinking about saving even though you're doing it constantly. Almost all week when I would think of biking, I would think about either how beautiful the weather is, or how my legs felt, or how hard I try not to get hit by a car when I'm crossing the road. I kind of stopped considering how much money I save by making a trip by bike instead of by car. But you know what? It's happening all the time, automatically. Biking is its own reward, it's awesome all by itself, and the money takes care of itself.

My round-trip commute is 7 miles. At 15 mpg that's a half gallon a day. With gas prices somewhere between $3.50 and $4/gallon (I never pay close attention), and doubling the cost for vehicle wear and tear, that's like $4 per day of commuting. That's pretty close to the IRS's mileage reimbursement rate of $0.555/mile so my numbers are probably sound. Hmm, four dollars a day. That's not too much... and at the same time it's really a lot of money! It means I saved $20 this week, and toned my legs, all without thinking too much about it. Pretty awesome. And all in a days work for the budding Mustachian.

Does this all mean we'll stay a one-car household?

I have given this question serious thought and the answer is no, I'm not planning on it. It would be super awesome to avoid car taxes, insurance, and fuel all together. I'm just not ready to give up the safety margin another car provides, even at the rather high cost I'll have to pay for it.

I'm hoping in the future a more badass me will step up to the challenge of making a one-car household work. I see it going something like this: a month or two will go by and I'll realize that I didn't use my car once. Not for commuting or errands, and I never had to go shopping when I wasn't accompanying my girlfriend anyway. Then I can sell my car from a position of power. That would be really sweet. But I digress.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been saving up cash for a car purchase for a few months now. Last time I counted I have something like $7k. It's still possible I'll buy my sister's Yaris, but more and more it's looking like her apartment search will take another month or two and she'll be keeping that car until she's found another place to live.

More likely I'll find a car I like on Craigslist. But here is a twist: I applied for a used car loan through a credit union that I'm a part of. I was approved for $15k at 2% interest. This has made me lean heavily toward the idea of financing all of my used car purchase, and putting all that cash toward my student loan.

Yes, that means I'll take out more debt. Yes, it means I'll probably buy a car for more money than I have on hand. This isn't a perfectly Mustachian choice. But I don't think insisting on being a one-car household is tenable in my situation, not now anyway, and I think a credit union used car loan is a pretty reasonable choice.

I'm going to leave all the details of my financial shenanigans for a future post. For now, suffice it to say that I consider trading student loan debt at 6% for secured debt at 2% to be a pretty good deal.

Until next time, folks.


  1. Your numbers on the car loan vs student loans are for sure sound. After all 2% interest is a lot less than 6% and on a smaller principal. But an even better bet (and this is just me trying to egg you on) is to put that 7K against your loans, not finance a car, and watch as those legs of your become fine pillars of badassity as everyday your commute is helping to stomp out that debt. Either way you are ahead of 99% of the population. Good post!

    1. Oh, you :)

      Yeah, it does pain me a little that I'm foregoing the opportunity to live car-free. But this is a journey, after all, and I think once I achieve a certain level of badassity I'll be able to revisit the question and come to a more favorable (non-automobile owning) conclusion.

  2. I'm glad that, even if you are striving to live as a one-car household, you didn't close your doors on buying another car. It may be another challenge for you, as it will be an added expense on your part, but it can have its own pros too. Anyway, congratulations on finishing that student loan a few days ago!