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Bills Shmills: Transportation

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.



Everyone needs it, it’s how we get where we need to go.

When it comes to managing our bills for transportation, we must look at the cost and whether or not we are getting what we expect from the money we spend.

For wealthy people, the cost of owning and operating a car is a small percentage of their yearly vault of income. Gas prices don’t really matter all that much. However, for people living at or below the poverty line, the money spent on transportation can be 30% of their income. It is such a shame that our public policy has allowed for the building and expanding of cities and neighborhoods that require residents to own a car in order to go about their daily business. Driving for many is not a pleasure, it’s a grind of traffic, honking, & wasted time. What percentage of your income goes toward transportation? If you could free up some of that money, what could you do with it?

How much more money do you want every month? Lets set out to find that money by reducing the cost of your personal transportation. It is going to feel great to take back some your money!

Where do I go and how often?

How much of your going is for work and how much for pleasure or errands?  Is there a way to reduce trips, to walk, bike, scooter, bus, carpool? Does your schedule and distance traveled require an automobile? Can you reduce your daily distance traveled.

One of the easiest ways to reduce your transportation bill is to reduce use of, or eliminate altogether, an automobile. This might be difficult to wrap your head around. However, if you are bold, brave and inventive you will be able to reduce your need for a car.

What are my transportation options?

Personal Automobile: For 50+ years it’s been the dominant choice in America. Also, a very expensive choice!

Carpool: Does your neighbor work near where you work? Consider carpooling.

Public Transit: If you have it in your city, take it! It is way cheaper than driving and allows you to read or nap while you get where you need to go! If your city doesn’t have it, write your council members, mayor, governor and congress members to tell them you want public transportation to be made a priority in your town.

Bicycling: It’s good for your health, the Dutch and the Danes do it en masse all year round. In Copenhagen over 30% of people cycle to work/school every day! Many of our trips are under 5 miles, and 5 miles on a bike is quick an refreshing, often quicker than driving if you can breeze by traffic.  Children love cycling and there are now a handful of incredible cargo bikes available, some with electric assist, that can safely carry 2 or 3 children! My favorite is the Yuba Mundo which looks and feels like a regular bike but with an electric assist motor. There are also bikes based on the dutch bakfiets where there is a platform and bucket in front for cargo and kids. Any bike will do, but cargo bikes are great for grocery shopping and passengers. Bikes are relatively cheap. No insurance. No gas. Built in exercise. With electric assist, carrying kids and cargo is fun!

Low speed electric vehicles: These cost 1/3 the price of a car. They are electric and are meant for city driving under 30 miles per hour. Many two car families could painlessly choose to have one high speed long distance vehicle and one electric low speed vehicle. This is much cheaper to maintain and run with zero emissions.

Electric Scooter: So much of driving is done for the transport of one person, it is wasteful to transport one person in 2 tons of steel! Scooters are great around town. Put on an orange vest, a helmet, and have a blast! You may be an early adapter, but you will see more and more scooters and cyclists in the coming years!

Walking: We are low speed mammals. Walking feels great, connects us with our community and surroundings. A walk commute time is quite predictable and is enjoyable.

Hopefully your mind is rushing with new ideas.  Try out a new form of transportation, even once a week.  Bike with your kids to school for example. The most lasting change is often made with small shifts. What small shift can you make today to choose another form of transportation? What will you do with the extra money you save?

How can I reduce my transportation needs?

  • Do all of your shopping on one day.
  • Shop close to home. Instead of driving to the best grocery store, ask your local store to stock products that you want to buy.
  • Choose activities for yourself and your children that are close to home. For example, organize a piano teacher to come to your neighborhood once a week on the same day to teach all of the kids who want lessons back to back.
  • Move closer to work, or work closer to home.
  • Organize Carpools for shopping and activities.
  • Organize Bikepools so that your kids can bike with a group of other kids chaperoned by one adult.
  • Share your ideas with your neighbors, and ask for their ideas.

How can I reduce the money I spend on my car?

If transportation is costing you 30% of your income this is especially important for you. However, even smaller savings such as $100 a month add up over a years time to something significant such as a backyard above ground pool for summer fun or a weekend ski trip. Memorable moments can be made with this extra money.

If we need a car it’s important to remember that it is just something that gets us where we need to go. Our car does not need to be part of our identity. An engine in 2 tons of steel with wheels costs a lot to buy, maintain, and fuel. How much of your hard earned money do you want to spend on getting from A to B?

If your owning and operating your car costs you $500-800 per month you are either driving long distances, have low fuel efficiency, and/or have an expensive car.  Any of these three issues can be addressed and the cost reduced.

Your options are:

  1. Move Closer to Reduce Driving Miles — If we live within cycling distance of work or can utilize public transit we can spend less money and time commuting. I have expanded on the topic of where we choose to live in the post about housing. Choose a life that requires less daily travel. You’ll end up with more time and money. You may actually reclaim money to use really traveling: taking your family on a yearly vacation!
  2. Get an Efficient Car If You Must Drive High Miles — Do some calculations: How much you could save monthly by driving a car that gets 45 miles per gallon as compared to what your automobile gets?  The more miles you have to drive, the more significant your savings.  If the dollar amount you could save is in the hundreds of dollars, it time to trade in your automobile. Just make sure the cost for the car payment and monthly fuel comes out to be less than what you are currently spending. If you need a truck every once in a while, just rent one when you need it. Don’t be wasteful.
  3. Buy used or Buy/Lease an Inexpensive Car — A car is an appliance. We should stop using it to define who we are as people. It’s time to look deeper at who we are, what our values are, and how we want to live.

The % of your income that you spend on transportation should feel appropriate and in alignment with your values. You are on your way to making the changes needed.

What can you do this week reduce the money you spend on transportation so that more of your money goes toward something that would truly enhance and invigorate your life?

Align your spending with your values & goals and you will feel more free and more in charge of your life; making more room for Joy and simple pleasures!


Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.