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How much money do I save?

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How much money do I save?

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Old 10-27-09, 11:32 AM
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asphalt junkie
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How much money do I save?

I've spent a fair amount of time in the saddle noodling this question. I figure it's important, as I used my calculations to justify buying a new bike after three years and more than 6,000 miles on a clunker. But maybe I don't have to think about it so much. Even a conservative estimate pays for the bike and a few accessories.

I'd like to know if others have pondered this, how you calculated it and what numbers you came up with. This is kind of a numbers-geeky thing but what can I say? Also, I realize there are many other reasons to bike to work, but I'm interested in this one for this thread. Apologies if there's another thread dealing with this ...

Here are my thoughts and conclusions on the matter. Bottom line, I figure I save between $3.50 and $8 a day commuting by bike. Over the course of a 3-season year riding an average of 120 days, it adds up to between $1,200 and $2,900. My car commute is about 20 miles round trip. My bike commute is a few miles shorter but that doesn't matter in the calculations.

There are a few ways to calculate it, and of course it depends on a lot of factors such as gas prices, mileage and what expenses you are forgoing and incurring.

1. The first way I calculated it was by looking at my actual commuting expenses when I own a car and drive. The savings were quite large during the 6 months or so that my family didn't own a second car, but not bad either after we bought one that I use on some days during riding season and most days during winter. Gas was also expensive at that time, at least $3 a gallon. I included expenses for gas, insurance, maintenance and depreciation. (Knowing enough accounting to get myself in trouble, I calculated depreciation expense at somewhere around $500 a year.) Some people might include car loan payments. I park my car for free so I didn't include parking expense, but that can be a whopper for some people. Without a car at home, my savings added up to about $10.50 a day. Pretty good. With lower gas prices ($2-$3 avg.) and after buying a car, the savings came in closer to $8 a day. Still good. No longer saving on insurance but maintenance and depreciation costs certainly come way down when the car is sitting in the garage. On a per-mile basis this is about 40 cents a mile.

2. Bus costs. One way to look at bike commuting is that you save whatever you would have spent in bus fare. I spend $4 round trip to take the bus. I pay less than that when I buy some kind of pass, but I rarely find it cost-effective to buy a monthly pass because I don't end up bussing it enough. So let's say the cost of bussing is $3.50 a day, or 17.5 cents per mile. This is the low-ball estimate but easy to calculate. Still, it takes some serious time to earn a new bike with this number.

3. Finally, another simple way to do it is consider what companies reimburse for mileage. I get 40 cents per mile at my office. Some people get more. Supposedly this number takes into consideration all the costs of driving, not just gas. Doesn't include parking. This comes out the same as my calculation above, which means I'm brilliant or, OK, just lucky. $8 a day. Not too shabby.
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Old 10-27-09, 11:41 AM
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I don't keep exact numbers but I roughly figure that I save ZERO dollars. Its about a wash, what I save in gas etc I spend on bike stuff, like lights, cold weather clothes, components etc etc. I also eat a lot more.

By the way, most companies reimburse mileage at the IRS rate which is currently $.55 a mile. If yours is not they are cheap.
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Old 10-27-09, 11:51 AM
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I don't own a car, so I don't really worry about how much money I'm saving. Since I bought a new bike this year (and last year...this had better not be a pattern) biking is currently not cheaper than taking the bus. I'm not doing it for the money, I do it for the enjoyment I get.
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Old 10-27-09, 11:54 AM
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With my 3.8 mile commute, I save a lot, even ignoring depreciation. I had expensive insurance, though.

Monthly car costs:
$80 insurance
$15 gas : approx 152 miles/month, approx 30mpg in my old Prizm
$10 maintenance
----
$105 total

Monthly bike costs:
$3 maintenance

I get a 3-pack of $12 tires once every other year, on average and replace a tube every 18 months on average. I don't purchase much by way of bike-specific clothing. If I wasn't riding, I could get away without having gloves - I use $5.00 Turf King gloves. I have a $50 Helly Hansen shell I bought in 2003 or so, which I'd use even if not on bike.

I've had the same pair of lights running off the same quartet of rechargeable batteries for several years now.

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Old 10-27-09, 12:07 PM
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I save thousands each year. It allows us to operate with 2 cars and, as I have 2 teenaged male drivers in the house, adding a 3rd car would raise our insurance exponentially as our boys would no longer be considered "casual drivers". Cost difference would be $2K - 3K per year for insurance. Add to that the cost of car, gas and upkeep and I can buy a lot of bike stuff and still come out way ahead. It isn't the reason I started commuting but is a nice side benefit.
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Old 10-27-09, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by kgriffioen View Post
By the way, most companies reimburse mileage at the IRS rate which is currently $.55 a mile. If yours is not they are cheap.
Affirmative. I work for a publishing company.
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Old 10-27-09, 12:35 PM
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I don't own a car, so the savings from insurance, depreciation and maintenance on an automobile more than swamp my bike costs, however, I also look at the value of the better health that my bicycle commuting gives me, and I realize that I am waaaayyyy ahead.
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Old 10-27-09, 12:46 PM
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Parking a car in the garage attached to my office building costs $200/month. That's $2400 per year.
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Old 10-27-09, 12:51 PM
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I've never really considered it. It's not really about the money for me.
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Old 10-27-09, 01:01 PM
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I'm pretty sure cyclo commuting has cost me money thus far. But I enjoy wrenching on bikes, and the health bennies, so all the new parts and extra food are worth it to me.
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Old 10-27-09, 01:07 PM
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Calculating insurance, gas, and car payments, etc. is all fine, but how much would a relative sedentary lifestyle cost you in the long term?
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Old 10-27-09, 01:08 PM
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I don't think I save any money at all. I drive to work maybe once a month, and ride in every of the other days. Since I have to keep my car around (there are places around me that I literally cannot bike to because of bridges), I still have to pay for insurance weather I drive it or not.
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Old 10-27-09, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by MNBikeguy View Post
Calculating insurance, gas, and car payments, etc. is all fine, but how much would a relative sedentary lifestyle cost you in the long term?
Less, because you won't make it to old age, and therefore avoid all of the associated expenses
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Old 10-27-09, 01:32 PM
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Here is my breakdown:

My bike, and all the accessories I need to go with it (helmet, lights, lock, tools, ect) cost about $850. Maintenance probably runs about $50 a year averaged out, with lube, tires and parts that wear out or break included.

I go to school 5 days a week, and work 2 days a week on the weekend. A bus trip costs $2.50 each way, but could be reduced to about $2 if I chose to invest in an unlimited use pass. 7 days of using the bus x 2 trips a day x $2 = $28. This $28 will be my travel cost year-round, excluding holidays, as I work 7 days a week during the summer. Lets assume I will be doing this travel 40 weeks out of the year, to include time off for holidays and vacation. 40 x $28 = $1120. By commuting by bicycle for every trip, in my first year alone, I will have saved around $200 from initial investment, and the savings will go up every year following, provided I don't need to purchase a whole new bike.

People might want to throw in increased food consumption as an additional cost, but I haven't found an increased appetite with my 10 mile to work commutes, or my 8 mile to school commutes. My grocery bills have stayed relatively the same, and I'm not eating out or grabbing snacks any more than I usually do.

If I chose to use a car instead of public transit or a bike, I shudder to think of the cost. Parking at school would run me close to $400 a month, and I would need to use pay-for-time lots when I went to work, probably totalling about $700 a month. Even without including gas, insurance, maintenance or the actual upfront cost of owning a car, I will save almost enough every month by not paying for parking to buy a whole new bike for myself.
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Old 10-27-09, 01:40 PM
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There are so many benefits to biking to work unrelated to money. Health, enjoyment, environment, traffic relief, just to name a few. But some people, such as myself, like to focus on the bottom line. To me it equates with efficiency. Biking is the most efficient way to commute. You can save money, get a great cardio workout, spend time outdoors and reduce carbon emissions in one stroke. I love the idea that something so great has a real financial benefit.
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Old 10-27-09, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by skuz View Post
I go to school 5 days a week, and work 2 days a week on the weekend. A bus trip costs $2.50 each way, but could be reduced to about $2 if I chose to invest in an unlimited use pass. 7 days of using the bus x 2 trips a day x $2 = $28.
A question: Is the cost of an unlimited pass $28 per week or roughly $112 a month? ... ie what does it cost for an unlimited weekly or monthly pass? I'm wondering if you're calculating on the high side my multiplying it all out.
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Old 10-27-09, 02:22 PM
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it's hard to tell how much i save. at present i use my car 75 percent of the time to get to work and it only costs me 700 for car insurance and about 300 a year for gas. most years i don't have any repair bills or other costs. i bought my car used for 2000 dollars in 2000 so that is my story on my car expenses.
in any event i would say my savings are minimal. i basically ride a bike instead because i have a feeling of accomplishment when i arrive at work that i don't get when i use the car to get to work. plus it is more fun to ride a bike. it clears up my head when i ride a bike. i don't know if anybody else has had the same feeling but that is the main attraction of biking for me. i have had some of my best thoughts while riding a bike.
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Old 10-27-09, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by asphalt junkie View Post
A question: Is the cost of an unlimited pass $28 per week or roughly $112 a month? ... ie what does it cost for an unlimited weekly or monthly pass? I'm wondering if you're calculating on the high side my multiplying it all out.
An unlimited pass costs $116 a month, but the price drops down to about $108/unit if I sign up to buy 12 months worth of passes at once (something I don't have the upfront capital for, most times). I didn't include this in my calculations, but you also get a small tax credit between $5 and $10 for each pass you buy, during the months when you have taxable income (which is the 4 summer months for me). If you want to modify my figures with this additional information, feel free!
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Old 10-27-09, 02:27 PM
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When I ride the bike to work I gain bike-time. I dont save much in gas, as my son often drives the car to work, but there is some saving as his work is a lot closer than mine. By driving when it rains I save on wet-weather cycling clothes.
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Old 10-27-09, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by skuz View Post
Here is my breakdown:

provided I don't need to purchase a whole new bike.

.
EXACLYT hahaha


i spent 370 for my old bike and have already aded to 300, in lights, helmet, new breakes, tires...well maybe more than 300 lol!

Im having a lot of fun! and thats priceles
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Old 10-27-09, 02:31 PM
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I haven't paid specific attention, but compared to last year at this time, I seem to be about a grand wealthier with no pay increase. The only major change is that I almost never step in my car. That said, I'm about to blow that on a new bike. We'll see what the end of year spreadsheet looks like, I suppose.
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Old 10-27-09, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Vinci View Post
I don't think I save any money at all. I drive to work maybe once a month, and ride in every of the other days. Since I have to keep my car around (there are places around me that I literally cannot bike to because of bridges), I still have to pay for insurance weather I drive it or not.
Vinci - I live without a car. I do find times when I need/want to use a car and I rent. If I rent a car one day per month at $50 per day, that is cheaper than just insurance, and I never have to worry about maintenence etc. I also have the ability to select what type of car to use for each task that I need/want the car for.
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Old 10-27-09, 03:04 PM
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Lots of people save a ton, some spend more on their bikes than they would on a car, I think. It depends partly on your circumstances. If you live in an area where parking is expensive, you may save a ton. It also depends on how much you like toys. I am now pushing 20,000 miles on a $300 bike (to be fair, I have about $700 in it now that I've replaced the wheels, upgraded the front to disc brakes, and swapped the rear hub to freehub instead of freewheel) and it's still going fine.

I have probably spent another $700 on various bike junk, clothing and such, and about $200 of that was wasted due to buying cheap crap the first time before deciding to give up and buy decent stuff.

I still own a car, but as I treat it with kid gloves and do all my own maintenance, and I'm driving it into the ground (it's a '97 I bought new, 130K miles and < $2000 in total repairs AND consumables (tires, oil, etc) to date) and I keep bare minimum insurance on it (only a few hundred bucks a year) it doesn't cost me all that much, so I'm only really saving a little more than gas money every day - non-gas expenditures for that car are probably only $1.50 a day or less, and the non-gas difference between driving it and not driving it is maybe 50 cents, if that.
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Old 10-27-09, 03:10 PM
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Wife and I have one car, which she needs to use on a daily basis. That leaves me biking or busing to work.

I figure all my bicycle-related maintenance and depreciation works out to about what I'd spend on monthly bus passes ($60/month). I can get to work faster by bike than by bus, so even counting the time I spend wrenching I'd say it's about a wash.

If I look at it that way, I get a ton of exercise with no financial or time penalty--and all of my recreational riding is free.
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Old 10-28-09, 06:15 PM
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Here's the problem with my number crunching: I want studded tires and a nice new light, could set me way back.
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