Setting off on my own, one of my major goals has been to save money. How do I better save money? Better yet, how can I save lots of money? The more money I can save, means the more I can invest. That means putting more of my money to work for me (not the other way around). Now that I purchased a new place and am living on my own, these questions have an even greater importance to them.
One major cost I wanted to control and cut altogether is the cost of transportation. That factored significantly into my decision to move where I did. I wanted to be in walking distance of my job and in a convenient location.
I have never owned a car. This is not feasible for many individuals, which is perfectly understandable. But for me, I am fortunate as to never have needed to purchase a car. Here in NYC from buses to subways, public transportation is everywhere. The average cost of owning, maintaining, and operating a vehicle is over $8,500 per year. That average amounts to $703 per month. Between fuel costs, repair, insurance, etc., it all adds up. So I consider myself lucky in this regard to never have had a need for an automobile to get around.
My mode of transportation was limited to public transportation and walking. I took the bus wherever I need to go, whether it be college or work. Public transportation is by far the less expensive option then owning an automobile. But after a while (after I started working), the thought of cutting public transportation itself crossed my mind more and more each day.
Now many people enjoy a good bus ride. I understand that. Just sit back and let someone else drive you to your destination for a small fee. But then, maybe they haven’t experienced the NYC bus system yet… lol. I image in other locations around the country the experience is quite different (or maybe not?). My experience here in Queens is well…
For one, half of the time (being generous) the buses never arrive on time. And when they do finally come it is usually 2 to 3 buses arriving at the stop at the same time! Sometimes they are very late. I worked in fast food briefly in 2016 and more than once I was late for work due to the buses arriving very late (30-40 minutes late). At night, it would take me 1 ½ to get home due to buses not arriving at all.
That negative experience convinced me it was better to walk to my job. So I started walking. I was a great 40-45 minute walk to work and back. I was making better time than the bus, bypassing all the traffic and congestion on the road, and saving money. But then I got new job that was located further than my old job. I didn’t want to spend 1 ½ to 2 hours walking to work and back. So I was now taking two buses to get to my new job.
For my new job I left the house at 7am and made it to work 35 – 40 minutes on most days. I usually got home within 45 mins to 1 hour (so by 5 pm). It was better with those new times as the morning buses had a better arrival record then the (sluggish) afternoon buses. I was never late for work.
I did that for 6 months into my new job. But even while I got from point A to point B, it was an uncomfortable experience. It is just too crowed here. If you were lucky you got a seat on the bus, but most of the time I had to stand. And they pack you in there like sardines! They literally pack everyone in there shoulder to shoulder (that’s got to be a safety violation). Then they complain there is too many people up front (but there is no place to move anywhere else). Such overcrowding also caused many delays and headaches.
One thing I knew when I was searching for a place to live was I wanted to cut public transportation to and from work out of my life. The final (and major) reason was financial. I remember when I first took the bus to college and the fare was $2.00. Today, the fare is $2.75 in NYC (with talks of $3.00 coming soon).
So I did some math. I was spending $5.50 per day traveling to and from work. At 5 days per week that amounted to $27.5 per week. So each month I was spending $110 on public transportation. That means the total cost of public transportation would amount to $1,320 each year (at $2.75). Much less expensive than the costs that comes with owning a vehicle, but a large cost nonetheless.
So convenience factored significantly into move choices when moving. What if I could save that $110 per month? What if I could save that $1,320 per year and invest that amount instead?
This I was able to achieve. I purchased a studio apartment close to where I work so now I walk to work and back each day. I leave by 7:10 am and it takes me between 35-45 minutes to walk to work depending on my pace (I’m a fast walker). Better time than with the bus, no standing around waiting, no more being packed like a sardine, and best of all I’m saving $110 dollars per month on course to save, more or less, $1,320 per year.
But I gain more benefits than that from walking. There are health benefits to such physical activity. Walking helps maintain a healthy weight, helps manage or prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, strengthens your bones and muscles, etc. There are many articles that go into great detail on the benefits of a simple brisk walk.
So why not walk? I’ve seen individuals (even those who seemed rather healthy to me) on beautiful days wait to pay $2.75 to take a late and overcrowded bus 6 blocks down the road. They could have walked that distance within 20 minutes. They would have made better time than waiting for the bus, saved nearly $3, and become more physically healthy.
This was just something I learned and experienced. The time it takes to get somewhere by bus (45 mins to 1 hour) versus the time it takes to walk (35-45 mins). The financial costs to get somewhere by bus ($2.75 fare / $5.50 per day) versus walking ($0). The latter is much better for me. I still have a MetroCard if I ever need to get somewhere further away, but luckily I moved to an area where everything I need is within a 5 block radius. The convenience is awesome!
So how did I manage the cost of transportation? I guess in a way I did and didn’t. I simply was able to cut those costs off due to the right circumstances and decisions. I’m saving money simply by walking. So how’s the public transportation system where you live? Found any good ways to save money on transportation? Do you like walking? Thanks for stopping by and reading!