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  1. #1
    Tree-hugging Norse Eco-warrior's Avatar
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    Car Free to Debt Free (kind of)

    After over a year of being car-free, I just made my last credit card payment the other day. To date, I've paid off nearly 6500 dollars in credit and other miscellaneous nonsense from my marriage, college, and irresponsible teen years. I have not been without credit card debt since I was 18 (now being 25). It's a nice feeling, and I think I'm on to a new credit-free lifestyle as I balked at spending two dollars on a drink when I realized I left my debit card at home and only had the credit card. Now those pesky student loans, that may soon be growing, are a whole other issue. Car-free FTW!

  2. #2
    Dare to be weird!
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    Congratulations! I've had to claw my way out of debt three times. Twice during my first marriage, then one more time after the divorce that followed. Being car free definitely helps with the cash flow if you can swing it.

  3. #3
    J E R S E Y S B E S T Jerseysbest's Avatar
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    So what you two are saying is, do NOT get married? Kidding.

    Congrats, I bought a car using my credit card but had it paid it off in about a year, at 3.9% rate and then paid my schools loans not long there after. Definitely a good feeling, even more so since that car and my education has let me make enough money to now live without being dependent on the car itself.
    Quote Originally Posted by SingingSabre View Post
    Cheating: a symptom of the problem.

  4. #4
    tsl
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    Good job. An even better feeling is buying big-ticket items cash.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    I'm not seeing the link between responsible use of credit, (or lack thereof) and being car-free. Did you go car-free to pay off your debt, or did you have to go car-free in order to pay off your debt? Either way, congrats on getting out from under it all.

  6. #6
    Junior Member Anthony872's Avatar
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    "I left my debit card at home and only had the credit card." Switch the two and you got it. Congrats!
    "What I am at this moment is the result of past constructive action! But all future generations depend on what I do with it at this moment! - Dr. Bronner

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    There's no question in my mind that being car free enabled me to dig myself out of 14K in credit cards. I still have $600.00 dollars in student loans left and that will be paid next month. To think that I owed close to 30K in student loans and credit cards just 5 years ago!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian View Post
    I'm not seeing the link between responsible use of credit, (or lack thereof) and being car-free. Did you go car-free to pay off your debt, or did you have to go car-free in order to pay off your debt? Either way, congrats on getting out from under it all.
    From what I've observed here and elsewhere, those who choose to go car-free tend to couple their decision with strong attitudes about living simply, practicing wise management of personal finances and showing social responsibility. In other words, part of what attracts us to a car-free lifestyle is its role in a frugal lifestyle.
    Life is good.

  9. #9
    Tree-hugging Norse Eco-warrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian View Post
    I'm not seeing the link between responsible use of credit, (or lack thereof) and being car-free. Did you go car-free to pay off your debt, or did you have to go car-free in order to pay off your debt? Either way, congrats on getting out from under it all.
    The link being, as others eluded too already, that a car-free lifestyle enabled me to recover from my past 'irresponsible' use of credit. Few realize actually how much money can be saved by using a bike (or even public transit) as a primary mode of transportation.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eco-warrior View Post
    The link being, as others eluded too already, that a car-free lifestyle enabled me to recover from my past 'irresponsible' use of credit. Few realize actually how much money can be saved by using a bike (or even public transit) as a primary mode of transportation.
    Ok, I'm not knocking the car-free aspect, so please don't jump all over me. But could you have paid off this debt and still kept your car? And was the debt car-related? Did going car-free result in any loss of income?

  11. #11
    Disgruntled Planner bpohl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian View Post
    Ok, I'm not knocking the car-free aspect, so please don't jump all over me. But could you have paid off this debt and still kept your car? And was the debt car-related? Did going car-free result in any loss of income?
    I can certainly say that the extra $300 per month that I now pay in lease payments and insurance could be much better spent on paying down my debt. I mean, I AM paying it off, but I could make it disappear much more quickly if I weren't shelling out money for my driveway's paperweight.
    Don't waste your breath to save your face when you have done your best.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bpohl View Post
    I can certainly say that the extra $300 per month that I now pay in lease payments and insurance could be much better spent on paying down my debt. I mean, I AM paying it off, but I could make it disappear much more quickly if I weren't shelling out money for my driveway's paperweight.
    Driveway paperweight? Why do you still have it, if you don't use it?

  13. #13
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian View Post
    Driveway paperweight? Why do you still have it, if you don't use it?
    I'm guessing it's because he leases it instead of owns it. Automotive leases are nasty things. Unless, of course, you're on the receiving end of the payment scheme.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  14. #14
    Senior Member acroy's Avatar
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    good job eco-warrior. debt free is nice!
    beer-bottle target

  15. #15
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    Heck being a one car family finally go my wife and I to be debt-lite (just a mortgage and student loans); and now those are being paid off faster. Although my money market is making more interest than either of our student loans charge and almost as much as our mortgage. Try that with a c.c.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    I'm not car free, but my wife and I are as car light as we can possibly be in middle Georgia. I have a long-ish commute to work. My wife's a teacher.

    We went from 2 cars and each of us driving to work to me dropping her off at work and her riding home (her work is on my route to work), getting rid of her car, using the trailer to take off our recycling, using the trailer to go grocery shopping when we can, and me telecummuting when possible (about once per week). I'll also sometimes take my bike to work, ride home, then ride in the next morning.

    So far, we've extended the life of our cars be several years doing this, and we've saved enough on car payments, gas, maintenance, etc. to save over $60,000 between us. It's enough to allow us to move in the very near future.

    We're going to move to the PNW where we can be car free.

  17. #17
    Tree-hugging Norse Eco-warrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian View Post
    Ok, I'm not knocking the car-free aspect, so please don't jump all over me. But could you have paid off this debt and still kept your car? And was the debt car-related? Did going car-free result in any loss of income?
    To answer your question, not likely and a large portion was car-related debt. I was spending over 500 dollars a month on insurance, car payment, gasoline, and normal maintenance\extraneous fees. And to be sure, all these "expenses" were all fairly normal, ie. my insurance was below average, the car payment was on a 6year old honda civic, and maintenance issues compared to many other cars were insignificant. Combine the fact that my wife and I both are working towards advanced degrees and that our jobs though respectable (EMT and Immigration worker) dont make a lot of money, then yeah, paying off the debt would have been a long difficult process with a car. And alot of it was car related in the first place (see below).

    Add the cost of the car to the money I have recouped and it's near enough 15,000 dollars since going car free. Anyway, I dont mean this as a 'pat me on the back' post, just a success story for anyone else trying to save money or thinking about going car-free for any number of reasons that include paying off debt~!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eco-warrior View Post
    Add the cost of the car to the money I have recouped and it's near enough 15,000 dollars since going car free. Anyway, I dont mean this as a 'pat me on the back' post, just a success story for anyone else trying to save money or thinking about going car-free for any number of reasons that include paying off debt~!
    Sounds like it was an easy and worthwhile transition. You didn't have to go car-free. And again, not to knock your decision, but it's not like you did it solely for environmental or political reasons. You've managed to enrich yourself without hardship.


  19. #19
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eco-warrior View Post
    After over a year of being car-free, I just made my last credit card payment the other day. To date, I've paid off nearly 6500 dollars in credit and other miscellaneous nonsense from my marriage, college, and irresponsible teen years. I have not been without credit card debt since I was 18 (now being 25). It's a nice feeling, and I think I'm on to a new credit-free lifestyle as I balked at spending two dollars on a drink when I realized I left my debit card at home and only had the credit card. Now those pesky student loans, that may soon be growing, are a whole other issue. Car-free FTW!
    Congratulations! Well done.

    I've been car-free at many points in my life. It provided a nice cushion when I first moved out from my father's house. It made a bachelor's degree affordable. I was car-lite during my marriage and my ex realized that my bicycle commuting was what kept us in the black each month. Most recently, when my ex asked for a divorce, I parked my car and went from car-lite to car-free. Slightly over 2 years later, I had $20,000 of credit card debt paid off.

    As you know, its not just the savings on car expenses, its also that you spend less because you don't go to as many events as you might with a car and you don't buy as much as you might with a car because you know you have to carry it home. It also provides a general daily reminder about your efforts to achieve financial solvency. I might have been able to pay off the debts with a car, but when you really want to pay off debts, it's best to do it as fast as possible.

  20. #20
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian View Post
    Driveway paperweight? Why do you still have it, if you don't use it?
    Well, in my case, I keep my parking lot paperweight parked near my apartment because I hope to afford it in the future. It will be cheaper to get it back on the street than buy a new one. And for insurance purposes.

    Being a "low use" car, it costs me about $300 in insurance and $25 in registration per year. As far as I can tell, having driver's only insurance is normally considered "at risk" and would immediately put me into a very high-cost category. And the insurance is required to register the car.

    While I don't drive my car, I do rent cars when the company sends me on business. My cheap insurance and what my credit card provides keep me covered. Most often, the company sends me to California. Drivers there are required to have insurance. This keeps me comfortable.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    Slightly over 2 years later, I had $20,000 of credit card debt paid off.

  22. #22
    Disgruntled Planner bpohl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    I'm guessing it's because he leases it instead of owns it. Automotive leases are nasty things. Unless, of course, you're on the receiving end of the payment scheme.
    Exactly... I thought about the whole least transfer option, but then I'd still have to get another car because I still drive to races that are far away and take an occasional road trip. Beyond that, my job requires me to have one. So, it makes more sense to stay in the payment and help build my credit than it does to transfer the lease and try and get another loan or save up for a cheap used car.

    It just sucks to shell out that much money for something that gets driven about 100 miles per month.
    Don't waste your breath to save your face when you have done your best.

  23. #23
    gwd
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post

    As you know, its not just the savings on car expenses, its also that you spend less because you don't go to as many events as you might with a car....
    Well, I might go to more events than I did when I was car dependent. One reason is that it is much easier to park a bike right at the door of the venue. Another is I have more money to spend on events. Another is that I moved into town where there are many more nearby choices and it is quicker to get to them by bike than driving in from the suburbs. I'm interpreting "events" here to mean plays, concerts, lectures, films, political rallies, special museum exhibits, speeches, parades.

  24. #24
    gwd
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    I was car-lite during my marriage and my ex realized that my bicycle commuting was what kept us in the black each month. Most recently, when my ex asked for a divorce, I parked my car and went from car-lite to car-free. Slightly over 2 years later, I had $20,000 of credit card debt paid off.
    Wow, it reads as though Eco-warrior, Platy and now Artkansas all had expensive wives. My wife had a large income so didn't drain me financially but she didn't approve of biking or walking to work- among other things. Isn't the financial theory of marriage all about economizing, two people pulling in the same direction can profit more than two separately?

  25. #25
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    I've been debt free since 1993. The feeling of elation I felt when I paid off my last loan still has not faded!

    I can't think of anything I want bad enough to borrow money for it.

    I'm in college full time: very low income + high GPA = grants and scholarships that pay all of my tuition and most of my living expenses (there are not a lot of them). I'm also working a few hours per week on campus for pocket money.
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