21st Century Dad
One Dad's Thoughts, Ideas, and Feelings.
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Downsizing to 1 Car

September 10th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Illustration: Elliott Kim

One month ago, we made a family decision to downsize to one vehicle. We took inventory of our needs and our expenses, and it made sense to get rid of one car. I am glad to be free of life’s most inconvenient convenience.

We’re not disadvantaged with the lack of one car due to our circumstances. One parent stays at home with the baby and home-schools the older child. I’ve learned how to use public transit and I ride my bike whenever I can.

The prevailing attitude in South Florida is that a car is a necessity. The lack of a car would be a hindrance. I have not felt that hindrance. Did I miss the meeting? Did I not get that email? I’m supposed to feel stuck! Why has an overwhelming sense of liberation come over me?

  • I’m not a believer in multi-tasking, but this is as close as it gets. I’m getting recreation, exercise, and transportation at the same time.
  • Riding the bus gives me opportunities unavailable to me if I’m driving. Try reading or watching a video podcast while driving. Oh wait, this is South Florida. I wouldn’t be surprised if people did just that.
  • Riding the bus insulates me from the bad drivers. Everyone thinks the drivers in their city are the worst. South Florida drivers really are among the worst in the nation.
  • Riding my bike is a much more intimate interaction with the aforementioned bad drivers. I choose my bike routes accordingly. I’ve discovered some great scenery because I’ve had to find alternates to major thoroughfares.
  • I eliminated $600 of monthly expenditures.

My current work situation allows me to carpool with a friend of mine. Beer is cheaper than gas now, so I buy him a 12-pack once a week, and I even get to drink 2 or 3 of them.

Sarah Palin is keeping all you fact checkers very busy, so I’m going to save you some time. A 12-pack of Heineken works out to be about $9.70/gallon. Okay, so in Europe, I’d be right. However, the amount of gas I’d burn in one week commuting costs significantly more than the beer used to fuel our friendship.

The point is, (I find myself saying this a LOT to the resident teenager) there are alternatives to the automobile. My bitter and contested divorce from conventional wisdom has allowed me to explore the options I am currently using.

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21 Days And Counting on the Same Tank of Gas

May 6th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Public TransitThe last time I filled up my tank was April 15th. It was so long ago, I had to dig in my bank statement to find out. I spent $37.02. That tank of gas would cost me $43 $45 today. That’s why I have been riding my bike and using public transit.

I admit, my results are skewed. I was without the full-time employment portion of my income strategy for 2 weeks. My current gig gets me out the door at a reasonable hour and guarantees that I can leave work promptly at the “official” end of office hours.

I’m pretty handy with the most of the Adobe Creative Suite (hint hint hint to anyone looking for freelance graphic designers). PDFs of the bus timetables and maps can be easily sliced up, organized in iPhoto, and imported to my iPod. An essential piece of public transit warrior gear can become even more useful.

Reducing one’s reliance on an expensive resource is always a smart move. Commuting by car would represent a monthly fuel cost of $64. That’s not inclusive of the total cost of driving or the personal driving that I do. I am clearly coming out ahead by riding the bus. Reducing my gas consumption to 1 tank of gas per month is a realistic goal. Taking the bus to work costs me $40/month.

Driving less also translates into higher resale or trade-in value on my car when it’s time to phase it out.

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