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.