How Can I Save Money and Lower the Bills?

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Answered by: Maria, An Expert in the Basics of Frugal Living Category
My husband and I decided to do an experiment: could we survive without a car for a year, and ride bikes instead? We agreed that we were up for the challenge. We sold our old pick-up truck, and with the money we bought two very nice bikes. We were also able to pay off some other bills to boot.

Already this decision was proving to be beneficial. That first Monday, we were ready to start the work week. Normally we would awaken at seven a.m., have coffee, breakfast and be out the door by eight, placing us at work, if we drove the car, at about eight thirty. We knew that it would take longer by bike, so we woke at six thirty a.m. (A feat in itself) and were out the door by 7:30. We were surprised to find however, with less traffic at that early hour, we were able to make it in roughly the same amount of time as by car, we made it in thirty-five minutes. We were early for work! We “clocked in” and managed to save money earning “overtime”.

The rest of the week went fine like this, then came the weekend. It was grocery shopping day. With a car or truck, we didn’t have to think; get in the vehicle, drive to the store, load up the vehicle, and go home. This proved a bit more challenging on the bikes. We arrived at the store, bought what we usually bought, and started to load up the bikes; we soon found it obvious that our purchase was abundant. So, we tied bags all over the bike, on the handlebars, to the small rack. We managed to carry it all, but were we a sight. We were loaded down.

We made our way home, feeling the extra weight, especially on the hills. We found we had some options: Buy less and shop more frequently or get some big baskets for our bikes. We did both. We found if we shopped more frequently, with a menu and list, and only bought what we really needed; instead of impulse items, and items that have a way of finding themselves at the back of the fridge, only to be discovered rotting away months later; we found we could save money and lower the bills. The hills though, remained a challenge.

As the weeks went by though, the hills became easier to climb and we noticed our pants were looser. We were getting in shape! It was almost unavoidable to not get in shape on the bikes; we figured we were riding about sixty miles in a week; Sixty miles that we used to drive in the truck. We rarely squeezed in exercise when we had the truck, even though we had a gym membership, so we dumped that. We also noticed a sizeable change in our wallets. Not having to spend $25 every other week on gas, not to mention insurance, and the $40 a month for the gym was an added benefit; again we were we able to save money and lower the bills.

Then came the rain; we no longer had the shelter of the truck. Unenthused, we mounted our bikes and set out. The thirty five minutes seemed much longer than normal. Our vision was blurred, and some motorists thought it was very amusing to drive through large pond-like puddles, covering us with a huge wave of muddy water; well, we were already soaked through and through.. We than figured that we would need to bring a change of clothes or invest in some rain gear. We didn’t get as wet, and although not necessarily “fun” it was bearable.

Other challenges were: the drive in movie theater and drive thru windows at restaurants (most of the time, we’d get confused looks, laughed at, and one time we were refused service because we didn’t drive thru in a car!) and anyplace farther than ten miles. However, with adjustments here and there, we made it work, and discovered many things to do in our own neighborhood; things and places we would normally zoom by in our truck.

We made it through the year; fitter, richer, and generally pleased (except when it rained). That next year, we did decide to come to a happy medium. We purchased a gas efficient, bare bones, compact car and continue to ride our bicycles everyday weather permitting. We found in taking those steps, (selling the truck, buying the bikes) we were able to save money, lower the bills and get healthy.

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