...saving £'s and losing lbs.
For most of us, when we add up how much we spend each year on owning and using a car, the final figure is frightening. Tax, fuel, insurance, maintenance, tyres....it all adds up to be a massive sum. We have two cars in this house - being self-employed I need one as to be limited to public transport would limit the jobs I could accept too much. The second vehicle came about when we realised we could reduce a close-to £300 per month travel bill dramatically by MrEH using a car instead, and gain masses of added convenience. Ludicrous isn't it, on the one hand "They" are telling us to "be green, don't run a car, use public transport instead...!" while on the other hand it costs so much, and around here is so inconvenient to use public transport, everyone just says "sod it!" and buys a car instead! We worked out that Mr EH's car, a second-hand 1.4litre diesel engined Citroen, saved us so much that even allowing for its running costs we had recouped its £2,300 purchase price inside 18 months. That was nearly three years ago so she's made us a profit now! Frugal tip 1 then, is don't blindly assume that public transport is cheaper - do the sums.
Frugal tip 2 & 3 would be to combine journeys, and car-share where you can. MrEH works in London, and I work there several days a week too. Although it means me having an hour or so wait for him to arrive back from Central London on the train each evening, we car share on those days as it saves us about £5 a day on the cost of taking the second car in. If I need odds and ends from the supermarket, I have a choice of several that I drive past on that same journey, so I pop in and save the extra trip. If I need bits and pieces in the town centre here, I go to everywhere I need to at the same time, AND make sure I buy something necessary in Sainsburys too, as that means I can park for free too! Within the town centre nothing is too far away that I can't walk from place to place either - running your car for those "short hop" journeys will really send your fuel bills spiralling as the engine never really gets the chance to warm up and work at its optimum level.
That brings us on nicely to frugal tip 4 - why drive when you can walk? If I'm just going, for example, to the bank, then I generally walk. If I'm feeling spectacularly fit, I might cycle, but that happens pretty rarely. I'm hoping that it might happen a bit more often as time goes on as I'm making the effort to get a bit more exercise and generally improve my fitness levels. I'm not paying for Gym memberships or exercise classes though - at the prices they charge around here since our Council facility was sold off to private enterprise I refuse point blank to put any more money into their pockets I'm afraid. It's that choice thing again - I'll acknowledge that I "could" afford it, but it doesn't suit me to do so. I prefer to spend my money elsewhere. (Like the mortgage overpayments!) Those odd hours when waiting for MrEH on days we are car-sharing? I've been walking. Good, brisk walking at that. My first aim is to get my average pace to inside a 15 minute mile - and I'm well on the way. It's a great way of exercising too - the only specialised kit required is a pair of decent trainers or walking boots (I already have both), you're out in the fresh air, it can be done with no additional travel expenses to the gym, track or pool, and best of all it's FREE! How frugal is that?!
Ps - you see some fab things when you're walking about the place too if you open your eyes. The pictures of flowers on this post were all taken within a third of a mile when walking from the office back to the car yesterday. Make that frugal tip 5 - Open your eyes and maximise your enjoyment!