My New Ride – Part III

Not mine, but it looks exactly the same

I promise I’m not changing my transportation options just to write articles! I have been completely and totally as honest and forthcoming as possible since starting Dividend Mantra, as I want this to be a completely transparent view of one man’s march toward financial freedom. As such, this blog will chronicle both my victories and failures. I have decided to change my transportation once again as I constantly keep an eye on frugality while trying to maintain a balance of reliability and quality of life. While I like being frugal and living as cheaply as possible, I also need a reliable way to work as being late is something that is not tolerated well by my current employer. I had thought that purchasing a cheap vehicle, as I chronicled back in January, was the best way to balance reliability and frugality but I have now realized that I was wrong.

I am a frequent visitor and contributor to the Early Retirement Extreme Forums, and I regularly post information there for sharing and mutual learning. I posted last month’s income/expense report, and one member there called me out for a little lifestyle inflation. Although I had thought I had a pretty firm grasp on my expenses, after some careful consideration I realized that I had indeed been subject to a little inflation. This could be due to the fact that I’m making a little more money than I was last year, or perhaps frugality and riding the bus was wearing me out. I don’t know. But, at any rate, I knew that quick thinking was necessary to put me back on track. I decided to sell my car this past weekend, for the same exact $1,900 I paid for it. I listed it for sale on Craigslist, and it sold less than six hours later.

I took that money and quickly paid $1,375 for a used blue 2008 Yamaha Zuma 49cc scooter. There are a couple of really great things about this trade-off.  A scooter is a really great tool for saving money. I have listed just a few great things about owning one:

  • With a 49cc motor, it doesn’t require insurance in the state of Florida. This will save hundreds of dollars a year.
  • It gets about 100 mpg. Do the math.
  • Yearly registration is a fraction of what a vehicle costs. 
  • Maintenance is very cheap. Everything is very small, and very cheap on these. 

All things considered, I probably should have gone with this option in the first place. I’ve discussed the idea of buying a scooter a few times before on this blog, but my fear of getting hurt riding one kept me from going through with the idea. I decided this weekend that fear is my enemy. Fear is what keeps people in line, plodding along with everyone else. If I let fear run my life, I wouldn’t be on the journey I’m currently on so it was time to step up. I was also also a bit concerned about the scooter getting stolen, so I decided to lock it up to a bike rack located in the apartment complex with a U-lock and a cable lock. If someone cuts through both of those and loads it up in a truck, then I guess it was meant to be.

I’ll still also continue to ride the bus, as it’s economical, safe and practical. The scooter not only gives me a cheaper alternative to the bus, but also allows me a back-up plan in case the bus is running late. I actually enjoy riding the bus for the most part, but the lack of reliability was starting to cause a rift at work. I now have two economical ways to get to work. If the bus is running late, I just walk over to the bike rack that the scooter is locked up to and hop on. We’ll see how all this works, but I’m excited to get back on the frugal train. One great thing is that not only did I trade my car for a much more economical choice, but I also received money back in the process in the form of the difference in costs between the two. I’ll be counting this difference as an “other” source of income for March when I post my income/expense report next month.

The scooter certainly has it’s share of disadvantages. They’re not completely safe, as getting hit on one would probably mean extreme injury or death. I’m subject to the weather when I’m riding on one, so rain could make things difficult. It also doesn’t have a lot of room for cargo/groceries/stuff. That last one might actually be an advantage, depending on your viewpoint. When considering these disadvantages, I view it as a positive trade-off.

I hope this is the last article in the “My New Ride” series! I’ll make sure to keep all readers updated as I ride the bus and the scooter and let everyone know how this frugal combination is treating me. To any readers out there that also ride scooter; I would appreciate any tips or information!

How about you? Ever consider buying a scooter?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: Total Motorcycle

Comments

  1. says

    Wow, this came as a bit of a surprise. I thought you had some pretty good reasons for getting a car instead of a scooter, so I did not expect this change of plans.

    I went over to the ERE Forum (for the very first time) and read the responses to your February income/expense report. I think the “lifestyle inflation” criticism was overblown, especially when levied against someone who routinely saves over 50% of his net income. Buying an economical car so you can conveniently get to work on time and spending $100 on a special Valentine’s dinner with your girlfriend do not seem like lifestyle inflation to me. I think the criticism was a bit extreme.

    Regardless, I hope the scooter works out for you. Ride safe!

    • says

      deedubs,

      Your support is much appreciated.

      When I first read the criticism I was a bit frustrated and perplexed. But, after some thoughtful reflection I decided that there was a little truth there. Last month was a bit of an anomaly, and I still managed to save a high percentage of net income. However, I could have done even better.

      It should also be noted that the vehicle had its fair share of issues. The transmission was experiencing problems and the car was intermittently stalling. Even at my reduced rate (due to the fact that I work in the auto industry), these would have still been expensive repairs. These facts when into consideration when I decided to do what I did.

      Thanks again for your support. It’s good to hear from someone who is my age and trying to do exactly what I’m going. It’s great to share ideas and keep each other motivated.

      Take care!

    • says

      It’s waste of the money to go for it to the dealer. You can do it by yourself even if don’t have experience, just turn on your computer and write there “youtube” :) Don’t forget on MMM “do not outsource” :-)

      sry for witing, my laptvop is dead and mobile phone crazy

  2. says

    Hey Mantra,

    Looks fun! And you can save money at the same time. I’d love to hear about the MPG you’re getting (perhaps just throw that in to one of your monthly income/expense updates?)

    How does licensing work? Do you need an M1/M2 license? (not sure what they’re called in FL, but here in CA that’s an additional sticker you need on your driver’s license).

    Take care,

    Mike

    • says

      Mike,

      It actually is fun. At first, being a total newbie to motorcycles of any kind, it was new and a bit weird. But, it’s actually fun to zip around on that little thing. And, parking is a cinch! I’ll try to calculate mpg. The fuel gauge hasn’t even moved since I bought it, and I zipped all around town already.

      Anything under 50 cc does not require a motorcycle endorsement here in Florida. I found that to be true in a number of other states as well in my research. Basically, it’s just register it, put fuel in it and ride.

      I’ll keep you updated on the mpg, and how it’s all working out after I spend some time with it.

      Best wishes!

  3. Chess4Diversion says

    Hi again Mantra!

    Congrads on the scoot! I have had a scooter for nearly 2 years now. The first one was a 2010 Honda sh 150i that my dad sold me when he upgraded. The second is my current bike, a 2009 Yamaha Tmax (500cc), again from my dad after he upgraded again (hopefully for the last time!). I have to admit that I do miss the Honda for its economy. The Honda could obtain a top speed of 65 mph and averaged 85 mpg. It was great for urban travel and the insurance was very reasonable ($70/year liability). The Tmax is much more fun and capable. It has a top speed of 100 mph, but only averages 50 mpg. Oh well, I wasn’t going to let the Tmax go the dealer for a ripoff trade, so I took it instead. As I mentioned, the frugal side of me misses the economy of the Honda, but I do very much enjoy the Tmax. The main difference in cost so far has been gas costs.

    My own observations are that insurance and gas are much much cheaper for bikes than cars. Also you are carrying around less vehicle inventory (equity) that could be put to more productive use elsewhere. However, bike maintenance is more expensive than is typical for a car. For instance, on the Honda, the oil had to be changed and valves checked every 2,500 miles. That service usually retailed for $200+ at the dealer. Plus since the valves could only be checked after the engine was sufficiently cool, the total wait time for service to be completed was around 4 hours. I had prepaid maintenance with the dealer that cost me $700 for 3 year/36,000 miles that made it more reasonable for me, but its still not cheap. Also tires tend to last at most 10K miles and that with 16″ tires. Your scoot’s tires are probably only 10″ or 12″ at most. That will reduce their useful life to only 6k or 7k miles. On the Honda, it cost me around $150 per tire (labor and parts) to replace. On the Tmax its more like $200 per tire. So tires and maintenance are more than what you might think, but the other areas are really really cheap.

    Still I feel that scooters are really fun and economical. I will admit that since getting a scooter, I have not rode the bicycle much. Its too much a temptation the take the scoot out. I remember the sensation of riding the bicycle the first time after having rode the scooter for a while. It was like everything was going by sooooo slow…..oh and man I was working hard to peddle and the seat was not comfortable at all. Beware that you may get spoiled. I need to force myself to get back on the bicycle and get more exercise. Now that its warm again, I plan on doing so this spring.

    Enjoy and best of luck with the scoot and your journey!

    • says

      Chess4Diversion,

      Thanks so much for sharing all that helpful information. I’m a bit surprised that maintenance is as high as it is, seeing how small these things are and seeing how there really isn’t much to them. $150 per tire is more than I thought, especially considering that in the auto industry we routinely install car tires for less than that. I guess the margins are pretty high in scooter maintenance!

      In the end, I hope to minimize the amount and cost of maintenance necessary on the scooter by using the bus in tandem. I think by using them in combination I’ll give myself the best chance at getting to work reliably, safely and cheaply.

      I hear you on not riding the bike as much as you used to. I’m in the same position, as the scooter just moves so much faster. I used to walk/bicycle to the grocery store, but have now scooted up once already and liked the convenience. It’s a lot of fun.

      Sounds like we have a lot in common. Stay safe out there on your scooter!!

      Best wishes.

  4. says

    DM, I’ve shared with you my thoughts on your transportation/gym expenses over at ERE. I hope that you didn’t take anything I said as negative criticism. My commentary was offered as respectful and constructive criticism.

    That said, I’m looking forward to hearing how the scooter work out for you and how your savings rate reflects the decreased expense and higher income.

    Wish you the best.

    • says

      The Stoic Investor,

      No worries. I didn’t take any of your comments as negative criticism at all. I usually find criticism and comments helpful anyway, unless they’re used in a hateful manner.

      I’m also looking forward to seeing how the scooter works out. I’m actually pretty excited about it and I think I made a great choice. I haven’t rode it to work yet, as my co-worker is on vacation and I’m unable to get it registered. I think I’ll make the first trip to work and back home tomorrow!

      Take care!

  5. says

    Wow, a scooter! You’re so lucky DM. The parents won’t let me get a scooter or motorcycle since they’re terrified about the potential accidents with these vehicles. Any who, it’s great to see you try to pinch every penny out there. It’s very inspiring!

    • says

      Henry,

      Hey buddy, if you want to get one I say do it. But, do it only because you really want to do it and you believe it’s in your best interests.

      I’m definitely pinching my pennies as I try to get the Freedom Fund as large as possible to start compounding and churning out dividends as fast as I can. The faster, the better.

      Keep up the great work on your end too!

  6. Andy says

    Hi Mantra,

    bold move to sell the car! In my experience, once someone has a car, they don’t let go of it until they absolutely have to, I really respect the fact that you did the math and followed through with it. May I ask how many miles you live away from work? If it is less than 5 or 6, maybe you could just get a bike and get there by bike? I thought about getting a scooter myself for some time now, but since I live in a fairly big city (in Germany, where there are bycycle lanes everywhere) and I live only 3 miles away from work, I cannot really see the advantage a scooter would bring me, since I can go pretty much anywhere I want just by bike. Would be interesting to hear your thoughts on that subject.

    Greetings, Andy

    • says

      Andy,

      Thanks for stopping by, and I appreciate your question. I actually just used Mapquest and it says that I’m 7 miles from work. If I could feasibly bicycle I would, but unfortunately the roads that lead to my work are extremely unfriendly to pedestrians and bicyclists and I’d be even more afraid to bike to work than scootering.

      With your situation, being only three miles away and in an environment that is more bike-friendly I would definitely bike to work. Bicycling would be infinitely better than using a scooter, and if I could get by strictly by bicycle I definitely would.

      Take care!

    • says

      The Executioner,

      I actually do not have a shower at my place of work, and if it’s raining I’ll most likely just whip out my umbrella and ride the bus. I’ve bicycled home in the Florida summer during a thunderstorm and although not fun, I made it work.

      Thanks for the suggestion. Keep in touch!

  7. says

    nice work. I think that the ‘lifestyle inflation’ charges are sort of far-fetched. There is no moral imperative that says you always have to spend as little as possible. You have a plan, you are sticking to it, and you will accomplish your goals. If somewhere along the line you get extra income that allows you an even BETTER life with more luxuries, then great! As long as it doesn’t mess up your plan, go for it. Yes you always COULD save more, but we all COULD live in tepees instead of houses, only wear one pair of clothes, not use electricity, etc. But we don’t.

    I think the scooter was a good idea. I have a motorcycle and even though they do have to have insurance, it’s very cheap compared to car insurance. Its like $100 a year for me. They are more expensive, but I also feel they are a little easier to see/hear and thus less dangerous, but who knows.

    As far as carrying stuff, I just wear a backpack. I’m sure you could fashion some saddlebags of some kind for your scooter too.

    • says

      The Money Monk,

      Well, what you’re talking about is something I’m trying to do. I’m trying to find that “sweet spot” that lies somewhere between extreme frugality and living extremely well. I believe there is a sweet spot in there where you maximize your quality of life while at the same time minimize your expenses. It’s a spot where you recognize the marginal utility of money and get to the point where spending it increases your happiness to the level where it starts to taper off as you reach hedonic adaptation. I think once you find that spot, and maintain it, you’ll be at an optimal level…a “Nirvana” of frugality. I’m trying to get there.

      I use a backpack, and use it when I’m on the scooter as it gives me room for groceries and small items. I don’t spend a lot at stores or on groceries, so a backpack is generally more than enough for me.

      Take care!

  8. says

    DM- I hope you don’t find this too ‘girlie’ of a comment, but I gotta say, that scooter is CUTE! If I lived in a warmer climate, I would consider having our household be car free, or at least be down to one car. I think I would like a scooter. I’ll be interested to read your updates. Just for the gas prices, I think it’s a great choice, best wishes!

    • says

      My Saving Style,

      It’s a really nice scooter, and although I could have bought a cheap Chinese scooter for a third of the price I paid for the Yamaha, they wouldn’t even be close in terms of quality or reliability. From what I understand, the Yahama’s, Honda’s, Vespa’s and Kymco’s are the cream of the crop. I chose the Zuma because it offered just the right combination of value and reliability/quality. The Vespa’s are very nice, but very expensive and the parts are more expensive too. Plus, there is a Yamaha dealer about 5 miles from me.

      Yes, with gas prices this thing will pay for itself in a short period of time.

      It’s unfortunate you don’t live in a warmer climate. We’re accepting residents here in Florida! :)

      Thanks for the support. Take care!

  9. Anonymous says

    Just remember, life is very short. Being frugal is fine but people can over-do also. Take your girl out for a nice dinner and stop and have that good cup of coffee once in awhile.

    Bill from Williamsport

    • says

      Bill,

      Thanks for stopping by, and I appreciate what you’re saying. I agree with you. I think that while I’m living pretty frugally, I’m still enjoying my life. I’m just living like nobody else will now so that I can live like nobody else can later. Eventually the money will compound at a rate that will afford me a lifestyle even better than the one I live now.

      I agree with you, however. Life is very short and we’re not promised tomorrow.

      Best wishes.

  10. Anonymous says

    I ride a 2006 Honda Metropolitan. I’ve had experience with the bus/work issues. The scooter has eliminated that anxiety. A point about weather. Invest in a long rain coat and have a pair of dark polyester blend pants for wet weather. Cotton will absorb water, but polyester will shed it more readily. One doesn’t want to show up at work obviously soaked. New England winter weather is only a problem when road conditions are bad. The winter cold is managable.

    The only thing that irks me about having a scooter as my main form of transport is that people assume (insist, really) that my choice is mainly about style and fun. The choice was based on my history of epilepsy. I don’t want to be driving a car if my seizures should suddenly return. I’ll assume risk for myself, but I don’t want to impose it on others. A long history of life as a pedestrian has given me a distaste for cars anyway.

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Thanks for offering up that information. I appreciate it. I’ll try to avoid the rain as much as I can, and rain is most prevalent down here in the summer. I will try to ride the bus when I feel a strong storm is near.

      Good on you for looking out for others and riding the scooter instead of driving a car. That’s a fantastic attitude and what an amazing way to live your life. Very inspiring!

      Stay in touch.

    • says

      For the weather issue, it might be a good idea to simply leave a change of clothes at work if possible. That way if you do ever get soaked, or splattered with a huge bug or something, you can just change into the fresh clothes you have stashed at your work.

  11. says

    I had never thought of getting a scooter. Would you please share the expenses related to the scooter after awhile? I would love to hear how much it actually costs to run one of those.

    • says

      MyCanadianFinances,

      I’ll definitely keep you updated. I think, in the long-term, this will be a great investment that will pay for itself. Maybe I’ll inspire you to get one too!

      Hope all is well. Take care!

  12. Anonymous says

    Mantra,

    I posted back on your first “new ride” article that I purchased a scooter to save me some commuting $s. I failed to mention that I purchased a kick scooter from Xootr Scooters.

    Last year that baby saved me 7 months of not using the subway on a regular basis and getting me some great exercise every day. I guesstimated that I probably scooted 1000 miles last year, but have been scoffed at by people who don’t believe me. As such, I enter my commute on dailymile every day and am pretty excited to see the results at the end of the year.

    That I save $104/month by riding it and avoiding the grossness that is the subway in the heat of summer would be worth it by itself. The added pleasure it gives me when just cruising around my neighborhood and that I’m never worried about it getting stolen because it folds up into a 11.5lb little package allows me to shop for groceries or whatever and then unfold and be home in 1/4th the time.

    Now with my scooter I can go on roads, sidewalks, and bike lanes, which obviously you cannot do with your new ride. I do suggest at all times, being that you’re the only protection you have to assume the most defensive driving tactics you can imagine. I find myself CONSTANTLY defending against careless drivers, walkers, bikers, etc and I assume at all times they’re going to do something incredibly dumb…some times they even outdo themselves, but because im on the defensive, I’ve managed to avoid any real incident (thankfully).

    Yield4years

    • says

      Yield4years,

      That’s awesome. Keep up the great work and that looks like a lot of fun. I think that if I was to adapt a permanent transportation option that was without a motor I’d go for a bike, but that scooter definitely looks pretty cool. The fact that it folds up like that makes it ultra portable and makes you flexible. You could scoot somewhere and then go right up to the bus and fold it up. Very nice.

      I agree with you on being very defensive when you’re out and about. I’m new to the scooter/motorcycle world, but after riding for a couple days I can already see how totally aware you must be when you’re on one.

      Best wishes!

  13. says

    I thought you were buying a BMW M5 Sedan? Oh well, this still looks like a nice ride man, especially with Spring and Summer coming up. I still take the bus to work, LOL I’m so cheap! :)

    Cheers
    The Dividend Ninja (now with more dividends)

    • says

      Ninja,

      Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I’m buying the M5 next week! I’m excited. :)

      Hey, I’m with you on the bus and I’ll be gladly mixing the scooter with the bus. I enjoy the bus actually and have no problems riding it!

      Best wishes my *more dividend* Ninja!!

  14. Anonymous says

    Very happy for you. A scooter is very economical and I owned a yamaha for 3 years……..great to get around locally as long its not on a steep hill ! lol

    Cheers,

    Martin

    • says

      Martin,

      Thanks for the support! What kind of yamaha did you own? Why don’t you own it anymore? I agree that steep hills are definitely not good for these scooters, so I’m lucky that southwest Florida is relatively flat.

      Take care!

  15. says

    DM,

    Okay…this is a cool lifestyle change. I lobbied for the car, but I get the math and your reasoning behind the switch from auto to scooter.

    I rode a Honda CB750 Custom motorcycle for 6 years as my primary transportation without incident. This included commuting 60 miles round trip to work in Atlanta where people drive incredibly fast. So I have a couple of tips for you. Like someone commented earlier, drive super defensively. Motorcycles (especially scooters) are difficult to see from an automobile. Assume that no one has visibly seen you, even if they are looking directly at you. Be prepare to brake, swerve, evade and maneuver at the drop of a hat to avoid trouble. Try and keep a large buffer zone around you at all times. Preferably 100 yards of open space in front of you and also behind you. Cars tend to travel in packs, so travel between the packs. Never ride above your skill level. Lastly, wear a helmet and take a motorcycle safety course.

    But, most importantly…only pop a couple wheelies per day and try not to shred the roads between your house and work. Lol…okay those last two don’t count!

    Hope that helps…

    DPS

    • says

      DPS,

      Thanks for the tips! I agree that it’s great riding between the packs. This baby tops out at about 40 mph or so, so the packs eventually catch up to and pass me! It’s all good as I’m just enjoying the ride.

      I’ll definitely try to only pop a couple wheelies per day!! :)

      Best wishes.

  16. says

    congrats on the new scooter, DM. My first, many years ago was the Honda Super Cub of “you meet the nicest people on a Honda” fame.

    Walking the dog this evening, a riding pal flagged me in to his garage to check out the new/used Honda 150i scooter he’d just bought off Craig’s for his wife. One year old and 336 miles.

    Motorcycles are best bought used, there are some many around in perfect shape and very low miles.

    There are some cool videos imbedded here you might enjoy:

    http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/its-better-in-the-wind-or-why-i-ride-a-motorcycle/

    ride safe and enjoy!

    • says

      JC,

      Thanks for the congrats.

      I agree that buying scooters and motorcycles used is the way to go. The guy who sold me his used Zuma had originally bought it to save on gas, but decided that he just didn’t feel safe on it. I’d be willing to bet that there are plenty of people out there that buy one on impulse and later regret that decision. That regret is their loss and our gain.

      Thanks for the cool videos!

      Best wishes.

  17. says

    Congratulations on the scooter! I love the fact that you continually think outside of the box. Most people would’ve kept the car only because, they bought it, and to avoid the hassle of selling and finding a new mode of transportation.

    I would love to buy a scooter, but it would not do too well in the Canadian winter!

    • says

      Kanwal,

      Good to hear from you. Hope all is well!

      I hear you on the Canadian winter. I don’t see any way that a scooter would be a realistic transportation option up there, at least not year-round. One of the very first decisions I made when I started this journey was to move to Florida. I knew that it would be easier to use the bus or bicycle to places I needed to go in the warm weather. That decision made it easy to purchase a scooter.

      Of course, I miss my family and friends that still live up north so there is a significant trade-off.

      Take care!

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