Living without a car
My Story: The Carfree Couple
contributed by Sharon
How to Be a One Car Family
How I Saved $8,000 in 10 Months
Recently, a friend gave me a newspaper clipping with the headline "Family steers clear of cars." The article, written by Sonia Krishnan of The Seattle Times, was about a suburban family of four who managed without an automobile for almost 20 years. My friend knew I'd love reading about other people like me, people who embrace the idea of living without a car.
My husband and I bicycle or walk wherever and whenever we can. I walk to the bank, the mall, and the grocery store (I carry groceries home in a large plastic backpack). I used to take public transportation to my job downtown before becoming a telecommuter. According to his bicycle odometer, my spouse logs in 2,000 miles a year commuting to work, running errands, and cycling on recreational trails. His 15-speed Trek is a familiar sight in the parking lot of the company where he's worked for the last 20 years. He will ride his bike to work in any kind of weather with the exception of snowstorms.
Why do we resist dependence on a car? There are so many reasons. We want to save money. We want to fit exercise into our busy schedules. We want to escape the stress of dense Chicago traffic.
There are also emotional reasons not to drive. Being a highly sensitive person, I've never quite gotten used to the sounds and smells of rush hour. When stuck in traffic, it is hard not to wish yourself someplace else. What a waste of life!
The emotional reasons for avoiding driving made me think back to my first date with my husband. Twenty-two years ago, he came over to my apartment on his bicycle. He explained that his green Fiat had broken down six months ago and he hadn't gotten around to fixing it yet. That night we walked a couple of miles to a pizza place. Afterwards, we walked and talked and walked some more. I had a wonderful time. I'd found my soulmate, someone who liked to walk and hike and bike as much as I did.
The family in the newspaper article totally kicked the car habit. Alas, I cannot say the same. Although for the first four years of our marriage we did not own a car, we now own two cars. One is a 16-year-old Escort that we used in bad weather to get us to places not accessible by bus. The other is a gas-guzzling Dodge Durango that Al inherited from his father a couple of months ago. My father-in-law, who just moved into a nursing home, made us promise to keep his Durango for a while for sentimental reasons. (This huge car can accommodate his wheelchair and he likes it when we take him for an outing in it.) We honor his wishes, but it feels a little strange to be riding around in such a big car. It is just not our usual way of doing things. Not our style at all.
Debt is preventing me from taking a vacation this year or the vacation I'd like to take this year! Tell us: Yes, debt is affecting my vacation plans! or No, we're going exactly where we want to go but we'd love to learn make our trip as inexpensive as possible!
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it to MyStory@stretcher.com.
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- List all the money you could save by not having a car: Car payments, insurance, and gas, etc.
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