My New Ride – Part II

My New Ride!

Last May I wrote an article titled “My New Ride” and it was a proclamation to the world about my intentions and the amount of effort I was willing to put into my journey toward financial independence. It basically highlighted my decision to sell my car and rely solely on a bicycle and local bus system for my transportation needs. I gave it a fair shot. I’ve spent the last seven months using the bus and doing my fair share of walking. This taught me a lot about perseverance and independence, and it shows me just how much spirit an individual can have when one wants to express it.

However, the local bus system leaves a lot to be desired. While cheap and relatively clean, the reliability and timeliness of said bus system is sorely lacking and, unfortunately, is no longer a realistic transportation option. I’ve been late to work one too many times and have been forced to seek an alternative.

Recently, when highlighting my 2012 goals, I let everyone in on a secret: I was either going to purchase a car as my primary chariot or I was going to purchase a small scooter as a back-up for the days when the bus was late. I decided that a scooter, while cheap, was simply too dangerous and risky. I try to limit risk in all facets of my life.

So…this leads me to now. Yesterday, I purchased a 1999 Chrysler Sebring Lxi. It has 135,000 miles and it’s in pretty decent shape. Working in the automotive industry gives me an advantage of cheap repairs and readily accessible parts. I had it inspected and it does need minor repairs, but nothing that can’t be cheaply taken care of. I paid all of $1,900 for the vehicle. While not a small sum of money, there are few options in the sub-$2,000 crowd.

I’m sure I’ve let a few readers down, and I’m sorry about that. There are few people in this world that are more hungry or more motivated to reach financial independence. But, earning an income is a necessity and I won’t be earning an income much longer if I continue to show up to work late due to broken down bus issues. The vehicle purchase will certainly put a damper in my goal to save 65% of my net income this year, but I’m determined to still make a go of it. It’ll be fun!

In the end, I purchased what I thought was the cheapest vehicle available while still providing a high amount of value. I’ve had it inspected, changed the oil and performed a minor repair to the coolant system. It looks to be fairly reliable and will not only get me to work and back, but also provide me a little more flexibility in my lifestyle. The bus is great, walking is wonderful and a bicycle is a great method of transportation. But, in a town as spread out as the one I live in, it’s nice to have a car to go to the beach or get across town in a hurry if necessary.

I hope everyone realizes that this was a decision that was forced upon me and I’d still be riding the bus if my schedule was a bit more flexible. Unfortunately, my schedule is extremely rigid and lacks any type of flexibility at all. I’ll continue my frugal ways and look to maximize income while simultaneously minimizing expenses to make a solid attempt to save 65% or more of my net income this year. Please join me on the journey!

How about you? Have your transportation needs changed since adopting a frugal lifestyle?

Thanks for reading.

Comments

  1. says

    Nice ride DM! At least now you won’t be late to work. I can’t imagine myself traveling around without a car. Where I live, public transportation isn’t reliable and in some areas it’s a bit shady.

    • says

      Henry,

      Thanks! Yes, hopefully the vehicle works out to be fairly reliable. At least with a car if I’m late to work then I’m in the same boat as everyone else. If I show up to work late due to bus issues it simply draws attention to myself. Once I reach FI I’ll likely be car-free.

      Public transportation in some cities can be a bit dangerous, especially if bus/train stops are in dimly lit areas prone to criminal activity. In those cases, you may be better off finding other ways to get around if possible. Even in my city, which is relatively affluent, the bus stops aren’t lit at all…even the major transfer stations.

      Best wishes!

  2. says

    Sounds like a reasonable move. Very affordable. It was a valiant effort.

    I couldn’t do public transportation in my area. My co-worker that tries it has the most inconsistent, late schedule. I’m willing to spend money in areas where I get a high degree of value, and for me, an automobile is one of those areas.

    • says

      Monk,

      Thanks for stopping by. It was definitely a valiant effort.

      Public transportation certainly isn’t possible in many areas. I live in a city with a population of about 55,000 people and it’s difficult. I think this type of transportation is probably best reserved for very large cities, and even then you may not have a timely schedule. But, at least in that case you’ll be in the same boat as everyone else instead of being singled out like me.

      I agree with you on getting a high degree of value on your money and I can also agree that a car is probably one of those cases. It’s definitely nice leaving later and getting home earlier! I’ve felt a bit isolated from the rest of the population since I can’t readily get around the city easily. It’s nice to be back in the mix, if you will.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      Wow. Things in US are apparently very different from here in Europe.

      In Switzerland (to take the most extreme example) you wouldn’t have that problem. But then food and rent might haven triple your current cost.

  3. says

    I agree — getting a car seemed to be the prudent thing for you to do. Although it may cut into your efforts to save 65% of your net income, I think it’s a worthwhile and justifiable expense given that it will ensure you get to your job — which is your main source of income — safely and on time.

    • says

      deedubs,

      Thanks for the support. Unfortunately even I am not impervious to unplanned large expenses. The nice thing about this blog is that it will document the journey to financial independence through all the ups and downs. It’s nice to catalog all the ways everyday life impacts the path along the way.

      And yes, gotta have that job. Makes it very difficult to reach financial independence if I’m not making an income!

      Best wishes!

  4. says

    Good lookin vehicle! I think it was a good choice to purchase the car. As long as you use the car frugally as well (not driving to the corner store, etc.) I think you’ll find the long term hit to your finances to be minimal. Do you still plan on using public transportation for other activities outside your strict work schedule?

    • says

      The Kechi One,

      Thanks! It’s not bad for the money, I suppose. Can’t get much for less than $2k these days. You make a good point. We’ll see how it impacts my everyday life. Of course, I owned a car for most of my life and at the beginning of my frugal journey and I didn’t use it for additional runs to stores for unnecessary expenses, so I don’t think I will now.

      I’m not sure about using public transportation outside my work schedule. It depends on where I have to go. If it’s somewhere very close I may still walk, but for distances of 3-10 miles I’ll likely drive. If it’s further and just me going, I may take the bus as it’s cheaper than the gas I’ll use. We’ll see.

      Take care.

    • Lazydragon says

      Even though the initial outlay and insurance costs can be expensive on a daily basis (I pay ~1k/yr insurance on a 9yr old car in Ontario, Canada), I’ve always thought that you’re still better off driving less when you can. For all those trips where you can afford a little time flexibility, or they are close enough to walk, not using the car will still save you gas and wear & tear on the car, and those savings can help minimize the hit your car is going to have on your savings goal.

      Personally I have a car and drive most of the winter, but come spring and summer I revert to other modes of transportation 80% of the time and it makes a nice positive impact on my bottom line.

  5. says

    If you are going to have a car, this is the kind of car to have, in my opinion. I ride the bicycle to work as much as possible, but of course the wife and I still have a cheap car to use whenever driving is most practical.

    Is that your house in the background? If so, it’s time to take down the icicle lights.

    • says

      The Executioner,

      Thanks. I actually tried to find a really old Honda or Toyota, but they are incredibly difficult to find in that price range around here. I seen a lot of 80’s Chevy Astros and really old Ford Tempos and stuff. Most of the cars I called on were sold in less than 2 days and it made it difficult for me to go view them via bus.

      Sounds like you have the best of both worlds. You use the bicycle when possible, but a car when it’s absolutely necessary. If I could perfect my own little plan similar to yours, well that would be great.

      That’s not my house in the background. I basically copied the picture from the advertisement I seen for the car, before I purchased it. I share a small two bedroom apartment with my significant other. I agree with the holiday decorations. Some people are lazy, huh?

      Best wishes!

  6. says

    DM, I live in the NY area where there is a lot of public transit and it is reliable. I selected my small town because it has shops and a close by train to go to NY city.

    There is a tradeoff here compared to non-metro areas. This area is expensive for everything (even the transit). Pay is higher here, too. I often wonder if the location matters in getting ahead. This is an idea for a good article.

    sfi

    • says

      SFI,

      That’s awesome. If my city had more reliable public transportation it would be awesome. I’m glad you live in an area where that’s possible. Of course, if I had a less strict schedule I’d also be alright.

      I agree with you. That’s called geographical arbitrage. I remember Jacob over at ERE discussing this. Basically you try to live in a high income area and live as cheaply as possible. This maximizes your curve and shortens the distance to financial freedom. Once you have a large source of passive income and capital fund, you move to somewhere significantly cheaper. Another way to do that would be to work online for a high income or find a job that allows remote work (online work) and live in a very cheap geographical area. There are a lot of people living in SE Asia that do web design and online work (consulting, etc.) and make a high income while having minimal expenses. A little bit of lifestyle design there.

      Looking forward to your article on that!

      Best wishes.

  7. says

    That’s more like it buddy! :)

    I think saving 50% of your income is a very worthy goal, higher than that I would say you are compromising on happiness and enjoyment IMO.

    Congrats on the new wheels.

    Cheers
    The Dividend Ninja

    • says

      Ninja,

      Thanks man. Hey, I’m not totally extreme after all!

      We’ll see on the savings rate. I think that achieving a 65% savings rate after this will be very difficult, but we’ll see where I land. I’m definitely interested in maintaining a balance between quality of life and saving money.

      Thanks for the congrats!

      Best wishes.

  8. Anonymous says

    I have really only been able to use public transportation in two of the many cities I have lived in. Unfortunately, it is not viable in many places across the U.S. Sounds like you adapted to the situation quite well and gave some wise thought to your purchase. Good luck and I will
    continue to cheer you on in 2012!

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Thanks for the support. I appreciate the cheers!

      Yes, the U.S. was simply not built on public transportation. We hold the personal automobile on a pedestal and our cities are spread out and built on the highway system. There are benefits and drawbacks to this system. Unfortunately, ease of public transportation is one of those drawbacks.

      I definitely thought long and hard about what to do and gave the bus system my best shot. We’ll see how it all works out.

      Take care and thanks for stopping by!

  9. says

    While I am saddened to see you use a car again, I agree 100% that you need one. Being late to work is simply unacceptable, especially after getting a promotion. An advantage of a cheap car besides the purchase price is that depreciation will be minimal. Heck you could probably turn around and sell it for more than you paid right now!

    • says

      Compounding Income,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      You make a great point, and one I meant to make when I wrote the article…but forgot. That is definitely one of the great things about buying a car this cheap; the depreciation is pretty limited. I could probably drive it around for two years and resell it for pretty close to what I bought it for. If a car runs it’s usually around $1,200 or so no matter what, even if it’s not in great shape.

      That is something that definitely crossed my mind.

      Best wishes!

  10. says

    Congrats on your acquisition. I would add to the chorus of support by saying that it is almost like an investment-your income is higher due to your promotion; to maintain that higher income you may need to spend a little more money (in the form of car/insurance/gas) but totally worth it.

    • says

      Joe,

      Thanks for the support! I appreciate it.

      I agree. The promotion is great and I can appreciate the additional responsibility and this is my way of responding to it. Hopefully it all works out in the end!

      Take care man. Always good to hear from you.

  11. says

    Congratulations on getting a car! I have to agree with the majority here, the car is necessary for increasing your income.
    I’m inspired that you were able to go this long without a car. But, it sounds like you’ve made a good decision. Most people would’ve easily spent 20K-30K on a new car!

    • says

      Kanwal,

      Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your support. Yeah, you have to know if I’m going to guy and buy a car it’s going to be the cheapest and most functional option available to me. This was it. I’d love to be driving around in a mildly used Corvette, but I just don’t want to work an additional 2 years of my life to pay for it.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      DPS,

      Thanks for that! Yeah, you’re right. That goal is pretty much accomplished here. Now, it’s on to the other three! I appreciate the congrats.

      Best wishes for your 2012 goals!

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