Yesterday the lease was up on my 2007 Ford Fusion and I decided to not get another car. It was weird turning in the car and not getting something new. My decision was based on a couple different factors.
The first one was the house my girlfriend and I moved into in Royal Oak, Michigan. For those of you that do not know, Royal Oak is a suburb of Detroit that has a ton of fun things to do right in their own little down town. Before I moved there it was the place I went to with my friends to hang out. A lot of my friends already live in that area and are now about 5 to 10 minutes away by bike.
The second factor was that I bought a sweet mountain bike a couple years ago and never really rode it. I spent almost $500 on a Specialized Rockhopper Mountain Bike. My goal was to ride it a couple times a week to work to save on gas and stay in shape. Living 10 miles away from work with no showers there made it hard to do when it was 80 degrees with high humidity already at 7am. It was just too much work to pedal all the way there, risk being the sweaty guy, and change into my work clothes in a bathroom. I did it twice on cooler days. What I did enjoy was that when I got to work I felt ready for the day. My energy level was up and during the hour it took to get there I was able to get my thoughts focused on what I was going to do and how I was going to be successful. The days I rode to work were some of my more productive days. The ride home was fun. I timed myself to see how long it would take for me to get home and almost hit a fence at top speed. Not cool, but funny. The next time coming home I decided to stop at a party store and “brown bag” the ride home. This was a much more enjoyable and relaxing trip home.
The last reason for not getting another car is that my Beachbody Coach business is doing quite well right now and I really do not even leave the house during the day at all anymore. I work from home I am on the computer all day and don’t have a reason to leave. In the last year of having my car it had 8k miles put on it and half of those were driving to my girlfriends house which was a 70 mile round trip. That is gone now since we live together. The other miles were us driving some place together. She still has a car so we will use it. This lets me save almost $400 a month on lease payments and car insurance which I can now re-invest into my business or throw into the savings account. I don’t count gas because I was only spending about $30 a month. Just to have the car in the driveway was $400. If I really need a car during the week I can call a cab or rent a car. If I spend less than $400 on those than it makes sense to get rid of the car. There is a grocery store about a minute bike ride away, two bars within walking distance, a park, and anything else I would normally drive to is very close.
I feel kind of bad not getting a car since I live in the Detroit area and this community is built around Ford, GM, and Chrysler. As many of you know, the Big 3 are not doing so hot right now and need as many sales as they can stay afloat and not go into bankruptcy. On top of that, my dad worked at Ford for 38 years and was shocked to hear I was not getting something new. The shock on my sales persons face was more than my dad’s. I could tell by looking around the dealership that they are not nearly as busy as they were when I picked up the car two years ago. The manager at the dealership acted like he did not want to even talk to me because I was not picking up another car.
Anyways, my bike and I are going to get some use this summer. I bought a sweet North Face Crestone Backpack when I lived in Europe to go backpacking with and can fit a ton of stuff in it. It does feel a little different being that guy who is riding down the street with a gigantic backpack on going to the grocery store. The looks I get from the cashiers and employees at the store are funny. I think some of them are looking at me like I am going to steal something. I like to think of it as me saving the environment by not having to answer the question of “paper or plastic?” anymore.
The other comments I get from people are from my friends who think I am a weirdo. It’s common and it has happened before. My thought process is a little bit different then theirs. I see getting rid of my car as a blessing because I am not locked into a payment and getting a great workout at the same time. They think of it as being trapped and not being able to get away when they want. This makes sense but they forget about cabs, car rentals, buses, etc. When I lived in Europe I loved not having a car and wished that Detroit had a similar public transportation system. Probably will not happen for some years.
In the mean time I am going to stick with my plan of riding around on my bike and getting into shape by taking it where ever I need to go. If the need for a car is too great then I can always go back and get one.