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  1. #1
    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    A tubby guy's foray into living car "free"

    Greetings,
    Well, I've been lurking for a while now, and figured it was a good of a time as any to tell my story. A year ago I was offically "obese" and could barely climb a flight of stairs. Nowadays I'm much less chubby, ride at least 15 fast miles a day, hike whenever I get a chance to slow down, and spend lots of time in the gym. I got sick of being fat and lazy, and changed it. There was still something missing, though, and I finally figured out what it was.

    In March I was involved in a very serious auto accident. When two full-size pickups collide at 50mph, it doesn't end well. An ambulance ride, long legal battle, and mountain of medical bills later made me start to question "is it worth it?". In late June, on a whim, I grabbed the old Raleigh MTB that was languishing in my parents' garage and threw it in the back of my pickup. I fell in love. Even though it was too small for me, causing lots of interesting pains, I put probably 500-600 miles on that bike since June.

    So two weeks ago I told myself that from now on I would commute via bike every day of the week aside from Saturday. The pickup would stay in the garage every other day unless an absolute emergency came up, and I opted to pay cash for a new Specialized Hardrock (instead of charging something more "blingy"). Selling my vehicle was something I thought of, but it is paid for and rental fees are a little ridiculous when that is taken into consideration. I'll afford myself the luxury of the 10 year old pickup in the garage that I use on Saturdays . On Saturday I make my weekly shopping trip, picking up items that are too large for the bike. During the week I make small trips for fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables. The bike works GREAT for those.

    I've also begun to live more simply. I make a good living, am under 30, but find myself worrying about money quite often. Even though I make a good living, like most in my generation I like to push it by living in the upscale apartment community, buying the latest gadgets, and wasting money on expensive clothing. That was another thing I decided to stop doing, and went through my monthly expenses and eliminated "fluff". The credit cards have been cut up, with only one "fallback" remaining in a organizer drawer. I've developed a plan that should have all of my outstanding credit paid off my April of '07.

    My fiancee and I have been looking at houses, and thankfully I found a woman who quietly shared much of my same views. So now, instead of financing 100% and stretching the "high" limit of loan qualifications like many of my friends, we've begun to look lower into our price range. We've found numerous older homes that we absolutely love, and also love the idea of not being a slave to a monstorous payment much more than the idea of that "nice new house". Additionally, we've begun planning to have that magical 20% down payment, and should be able to achieve it by summer of '07.

    Basically what I'm getting at is that taking a ride on a old Raleigh MTB has changed my outlook on life. Previously I was caught up in the gadget race, finding that purchases would bring me joy as long as I could brag about them, then languish on a shelf or in a closet shortly afterwards. Now I find endless joy in knowing that in a year I will own a home, have only a mortgage for debt, and hopefully be 99% "car-free".

    Thanks for all the advice in this forum. What an amazing resource.

  2. #2
    Lost in Los Angeles Bizurke's Avatar
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    Sounds like your doing great. I love to read good stories like this, they make me feel a little better about my lifestyle sometimes. Best of luck with the house and the finances!

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Yes, I like to read stories like this too, they keep me motivated. Its nice to see people breaking from the norm and forming their own opinions. I know I feel like a totally different person, ever since I have been reading this forum, and I realize that I really don't "need" all that "stuff".
    Quote Originally Posted by Alekhine
    If you want to get away with murder in the US, just run a pedestrian/cyclist over with your car and claim they jumped in front of you. Make sure you don't drive away from the scene and that you haven't been drinking.

  4. #4
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    What an inspiring story! Good luck to you...
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Way to go my man! I have done
    much the same at 55 yrs. old and
    am happy, trim and fit as ever...

    And, I have lost 90 lbs riding a
    bike and eating healthy.

    Keep up the outstanding effort!
    Ned Goudy, Glendora, CA USA
    Lightning Thunderbolt, Easy Racer EZ1, Rhoades Car
    http://www.rhoadescar.com/4w1p-j.jpg

  6. #6
    Pedal Power!
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    I found sorting out my finances was the best thing i ever did for my mental health. Basically i'd been living in debt since old enough to have debt (18) and 9 years later it had got to the point where i had 2 loans, one of which was solely to consolodate previous debts. I also had 2 credit cards with reasonable debts on and when i could no longer pretend that everything was ok, i worked out that i had been living beyond my means every month for the previous 2 years.
    So it stopped there. That month (May 2005) would be the one where i would spend no more than i earned. The first 3 months were the hardest when i couldn't spend anything beyond genuine bills and 3 months is a long time to not treat yourself to ANYTHING. My motorbike broke down during this time and didn't need to be repaired as i already commuted by bicycle, so it stayed in the garage. Gradually things got easier, and after November pay day this year the last of my debt will be paid off, except the mortgage which i don't mind having for now. During this time i sold my motorbike (as i figured after 7 months in the garage without being used, i didn't need it) and i became vehicle free (had never owned a car anyway!).

  7. #7
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    Great job! I have done the same at it has also changed my life. I have lost 10 pounds since May.

  8. #8
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    Great story!

    Yeah, get a mortgage about 1/2 the size of the one you "qualify" for. Make a promise to yourself to pay off all your mortgages before retirement.

    Stuff money into a well-diversified 401k or other tax-advantaged investment accounts. Do it untill it hurts.

  9. #9
    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the good wishes and the tips! Living car free should be renamed to "freedom". When I go somewhere on a week that's tight for money (like this week), I no longer have to worry about going into my "reserve" cash to pay for fuel. I just jump on the bike and GO. It's a great feeling.

    kf5nd - That's our primary goal, that whatever we have it will be paid off before we are 60. So we're looking for either an investment that we can turn a profit on, moving up in size later, or a home that we can build on if needed or just stay in forever. But I refuse to keep moving up in size, and payment, if it's not needed. Thankfully she's in agreement.. for now

  10. #10
    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    I so agree. Just with a couple weeks under my belt, I feel much better about it. It's just a switch of mental priorities, I think. Going from finding happiness in wealth, gadgets, and "going out" to finding happiness in things that really matter. Personally, having a good healthy family, a good job, and not worrying about bills every month is worth more.

    But you seem to have lived my goals. I was bordering on getting to the point you are at, had I purchased that shiny brand-new pickup I'd be in some serious financial straits. It's like my fiancee said "how can you not have any money when you make what you do?" She's completely right.

    On the mortgage front, it's a loan I don't mind having. It would take a very long time for me to save up the cash to pay for a home outright, and if I did I'm sure the Department of Brotherland.. err.. Homeland Security would wonder where I came up with that very large amount. Additionally, while I'm saving that up I'd have to pay rent on something... so yeah. It's either pay rent, or pay a mortgage and live with the interest. I think I'll definitely take the latter.

    Anyway, bravo. Glad to hear someone else has achieved what right now seems like a pipe dream for me .

    Quote Originally Posted by Bike_UK
    I found sorting out my finances was the best thing i ever did for my mental health. Basically i'd been living in debt since old enough to have debt (18) and 9 years later it had got to the point where i had 2 loans, one of which was solely to consolodate previous debts. I also had 2 credit cards with reasonable debts on and when i could no longer pretend that everything was ok, i worked out that i had been living beyond my means every month for the previous 2 years.
    So it stopped there. That month (May 2005) would be the one where i would spend no more than i earned. The first 3 months were the hardest when i couldn't spend anything beyond genuine bills and 3 months is a long time to not treat yourself to ANYTHING. My motorbike broke down during this time and didn't need to be repaired as i already commuted by bicycle, so it stayed in the garage. Gradually things got easier, and after November pay day this year the last of my debt will be paid off, except the mortgage which i don't mind having for now. During this time i sold my motorbike (as i figured after 7 months in the garage without being used, i didn't need it) and i became vehicle free (had never owned a car anyway!).

  11. #11
    bama still mixtapes
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    Bdinger, you are a superhero! We all are, realized or not. Thank you for sharing your inspiration!

    I feel like I'm seeing things the same way you are, my time is what's precious and worth saving, so I want to live cheap. And I want to live!

  12. #12
    Pedal Power!
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    Quote Originally Posted by bdinger
    I so agree. Just with a couple weeks under my belt, I feel much better about it. It's just a switch of mental priorities, I think. Going from finding happiness in wealth, gadgets, and "going out" to finding happiness in things that really matter.
    Congratulations on your 'enlightenment'.
    And more motivation for you: I don't really miss a single thing i now 'do without' - most of the extra spend was like white noise: for example, magazine subscriptions to magazines i barely read anymore - money was just leaking out of my wallet. Stopped buying them and the only difference has been not having to find somewhere to store them. But still most of my money was going on paying back debts - as i said 2 loans (one for debt consolidation: borrowing to pay off borrowing - and i always considered myself an intelligent man!!!) plus 2 credit card balances was just crazy and i sure don't miss them! This year, my wife and I went on holiday for the first time in four years and i'm still ahead of schedule for paying everything off (the balance is currently sat on a 0% interest credit card whilst i'm saving up the same amount in a high interest savings account. When the 0% deal runs out, balance is paid and we will have made a bit from the interest on the savings!).

    Now i don't have enough to know if money buys happiness (although i strongly suspect not), but i do know that my debt bought me A LOT of unhappiness.

  13. #13
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    Good job man!

    Yeah, it's hard to try to not spend on stuff that we shouldn't buy. I'm like that with stereo equipment....I finally realized that I was trying to "not spend big" on my speakers, and kept messing with junk...I went out and bought a good pair, and that craze is done....

    Sometimes the best way to kill a craving is to give in to it.

    I've been car-free for almost 3 years now. It's a great feeling. I do plan on getting a motorcycle or a compact car in the future though (leaning towards motorcycle), I need something to get out of the area sometimes
    -------- __@
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    Ring Ring, Ring Ring, the bell went Ring Ring Ring.

  14. #14
    Senior Member heywood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catatonic
    Good job man!

    Yeah, it's hard to try to not spend on stuff that we shouldn't buy. I'm like that with stereo equipment....I finally realized that I was trying to "not spend big" on my speakers, and kept messing with junk...I went out and bought a good pair, and that craze is done....

    Sometimes the best way to kill a craving is to give in to it.

    I've been car-free for almost 3 years now. It's a great feeling. I do plan on getting a motorcycle or a compact car in the future though (leaning towards motorcycle), I need something to get out of the area sometimes
    SMART car...!
    Great story. I'm now debt free and buy all my stuff second hand (except for bike parts.. )
    People get a little pissy though when they say stuff like "well it's okay for you you don't have any debts..yadda..yadda" Of course these people put me down for ridding that "silly" bike, and being "no fun" because I wouldn't get that extra credit card to buy the latest gizmo. Now I see panic in there eye's when gas goes up 10 cents and they're credit is tapped-out...I don't need that kind of "fun"...

    Yike am I getting old and bitter or what??

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