How I Saved $8,000 in 10 Months

by April Borbon


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About ten months ago, I had an epiphany. I was driving down the street in my expensive, leased car and I noticed the city bus go by. Funny, I hadn't thought about the bus since the last time I took it (I think I was about twelve years old at the time and it was my main form of transportation back then). The thought suddenly occurred to me that if I could take public transportation in the countries we travel to for vacation, why couldn't I take it here in my own hometown?

As an experiment, I took the bus to the mall the following Saturday. Besides being totally embarrassed that someone would see me, it was actually a nice ride. There were no traffic worries, no parking worries, and no need to stop by the gas station for a fill up. I just relaxed and read a book until the bus dropped me at the front door of the mall.

I was sold on the bus that first time. By the next month, I had purchased a bus pass (a bargain at $35 a month) and was regularly commuting to work on the bus. Since that time, I have returned my leased car, and for the first time since I was 16 years old, I don't own a car. I do borrow my husband's car on the rare occasion I have to work at night or do a major grocery shopping. Even my husband who at first thought the idea was ludicrous has now done a 180-degree turn. When he saw how much money I was saving, he became a bus convert too. Now his car sits in the garage most of the time unless we absolutely need to use it.

Overall, I figure that switching to the bus has saved me at least $800 per month. I have no expensive lease payments, don't have to pay hundreds of dollars for gas each month, no insurance costs, no parking fees, and no parking tickets. Also, I don't have to pay to have the thing washed. It took about two or three weeks to get over being embarrassed if someone I knew saw me. Let them bleed cash to support their driving habit. I have three vacations scheduled this year, which I would much rather spend my money on.

Here's some tips for doing your own bus experiment:

  • Wear good shoes. The spike heels stay in my bag until I get to my location since bus travel usually involves walking to the nearest bus stop, which can sometimes be a ways away. The upside is that you can work in a bit of exercise this way.

  • Experiment using the bus on a weekend or other day that you aren't pressed for time. I've missed the bus once and got confused on the times occasionally; you don't want to have a meltdown at the bus stop because you are missing an important meeting.

  • Think safety. "Professional" bus riders have things worked out to keep safe. They carry a flashlight or reflective band to be seen on the road if they are out after dark. An umbrella is necessary where I live due to sudden downpours. Depending on where you live, some bus routes/bus stops may be less safe than others; know which these are and take appropriate care. Always have a cell phone with you in case of emergency and ensure that it has the number for a taxi and for the bus company on it in case of a crisis.

Riding the bus is such a wonderful way to save money and aggravation. I often wonder why I didn't think of it before. Once you get over the stigma of "riding the bus," you may find this easy method of transportation the answer to your financial prayers.

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