After a round of binge-reading Mr. Money Mustache in 2014, I bought a bike off Craigslist for $60. It was a great deal- suitable for roads and trails, hardly used. I could barely get it in my car, but I brought it home and saw my future self becoming a biking goddess.
And then it sat in my garage for over a year.
I didn’t use it once- not once!- in at least 16 months. It had a ‘flat tire’ and I was too scared or something to figure it out. It became an embarrassing situation for me. Why had I gotten this bike, my friends wondered, if I was never going to use it? This situation was made all the more embarrassing after a good friend and serious biker took a look at my bike and discovered my tire wasn’t even flat- it was just very low on air. *Face palm*
Anywho, I am very proud to say that today, I am a biker extraordinaire. I am a biking phenom*! It was a journey to get here, but it has been a fantastic and frugal decision.
*Technically, I don’t qualify as a phenom.
Biking has been a game changer in my life. Let me rewind for a second, and tell you how I got it out of the garage and into my daily life.
I moved to a new neighborhood in early April. This new ‘hood is the best, and I am very much in love with it. Two of the most attractive attributes of it is 1) that it has all major needs (like a grocery store, gas station, many coffee shops, and stores) and 2) how walk-and-bikeable it is!
Seriously. I live four blocks from a coffee shop. I live three blocks from a gas station and a record/smoothie shop. I live 1.2 miles from a huge, 24-hour grocery store that’s nestled inside a plaza with a ton of stores that are relevant to my life.
In a neighborhood like this, my car has become pretty obsolete. Unless I am headed to catering, or to a swimming hole on the weekends, driving is totally unnecessary. I love walking, and if some place takes 30 minutes or less to get to by walking, I’ll absolutely do it.
Sometimes, though, I don’t have 30 minutes to spend walking somewhere. And with the heat of the Texas summer, sometimes I don’t want to spend 30 minutes walking. Enter my bike.
After I got my tire properly inflated, I just had to conquer my fear of biking on the same road as cars. Luckily my boyfriend is an enthusiastic biker as well as a patient man, so he helped me out by going on short bike rides with me around the neighborhood when we first moved in. After a few rides around with him, I got the courage to do some shorter ones by myself.
Once you do something a few times, it’s amazing how quickly your confidence grows! I bike almost every day now. In fact, I just got back from the grocery store- a cool 2.4 miles round trip. I’ve extended my biking radius a bit. I’m not comfortable biking on major roadways, but I do bike to coffee shops that are 12 miles away round trip by taking backroads. It’s been a great way to get to know my greater neighborhood and fit in some exercise.
Oh yeah, did I mention the exercise? Man, I am not getting enough these days. With the extreme heat outside every damn day, my running has taken a hit. I try to do yoga once a week with a friend, but sometimes our schedules don’t line up. Unless I explicitly plan exercise into my day, I can easily go all day without moving in a serious way.
Biking to work at a coffee shop, or to meet my friend at yoga, has really helped up my activity level. I’m so happy about that! I like moving hard, and working up a little bit of a sweat before I go sit and write for hours on end.
By cutting my car usage down to roughly three days a week, my gas consumption has also gone way down. I only spent $10 on gas in July. I allow $50 a month for gas, so that’s a nice little savings boost for last month!
I do hope one day to own a home in a neighborhood just like this, and be a one car household. God knows that cars are the opposite of frugal. I would love to be a biker for years to come, and use it as my primary mode of transportation.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.
10 Replies to “Saving Money + Working Out Or: How I Became A Biker”
I’m so impressed! I have a bike and live close to a lot of amenities but admit to being pretty lazy about it. I like working out, but I always seem to drive to my workout destination. lol! And damn gas is cheap for you!!!
Gas in Texas has remained pretty low, and my car only hold 9 gallons. Those California prices scare me! I was also so lazy about biking at first, but I love it now. I believe in you! ????????
I bought a bike a couple months ago and love it. I bike 4 to 5 times a week either to the gym, or just a casual ride if I make the time. Great investment if you ask me!
Agreed, such a good investment. I love riding to and from yoga class because I feel like it’s a double work out!
Very impressive! Im still not comfortable biking on anything other than the greenway, but have been biking a ton on it this summer. We’re moving to a neighborhood with greenway access, so I’m hoping I can do more practical biking (to the grocery store, shops, etc.) in the near future. Thanks for sharing!
I don’t bike on major roadways myself. My neighborhood has bike lanes, so I stick to roads that have those and dont see much traffic. Any biking is good biking in my book!
I have no car, but a bike and common transport. The bike is more fitness+ + more happiness less time for parking, less worries.
I realise how much money I save when my colleague calculated the monthly payments for 2 cars: one has a loan, 2 assurances, 2 periodical services, 2 winter tires, 2 gas etc. He totally monthly pay for 2 cars = 1200 and I pay less for my mortgage.
Wow! Your mortgage sounds great, hahaha. Cars are soooo expensive, it’s absurd. I live for someday not needing one!
I just found your blog via your Refinery29 article about your trip to Big Bend! I live in San Antonio and I’m planning a bunch of road trips around here. I have my eye on Marfa and Big Bend, and I’ve been to Austin and Port Aransas a couple of times. It’s amazing how much there is to do close by!
Now I’m making my way through your posts here haha. I love the idea of biking more, but like you, I’m a little nervous to start! Especially on busy or hilly roads. But since it’s such an amazing combination of saving money and getting exercise, I really should go for it already!
Hey Lex! I love San Antonio 🙂 Texas really does have a lot of places to visit. I’ve been dazzled by the state since I moved here. I definitely recommend just doing it when it comes to biking. The only way I got over my fear was by continually hopping on my bike. Start small and you’ll get there. And shoot me an email if you come to Austin any time!