If you’re like a lot of people, you probably consider your car a necessity. While a car is a convenient way to travel from Point A to Point B, you might reconsider how often you drive your car if you knew how expensive it is.
The average car owner spends over $10K a year on their vehicle, according to the Canadian Automobile Associate (CAA). There’s a good reason a car is often referred to as a “money pit on wheels.” Some of the expenses of owning a car include gasoline, auto insurance, license and registration, and maintenance and repair.
Although I have my driver’s license, I’m car-free. While there are times when I wished I had a car (like trips to Canadian Tire and Home Depot), I’ve managed to get along just fine without one. I’m fortunate to live in an urban area where it’s possible to cycle to work. Not only do I get exercise from cycling, I’m able to use the money I save to reach my goal of mortgage freedom even sooner.
While I understand not everyone can go car-free like me, if you just take the time to review how much you’re spending on your car, you might think twice about how often you drive. Perhaps only take your car when you have client meetings or when you need to pick the kids up from daycare. Here are some ways to save even more money when cycling.
Maintenance and Repair
Just like your car, it’s important to take good care of your bike. If you plan to ride your bike rain or shine, five days a week from April to October, proper maintenance is vital. Be sure to regularly inflate your tubes to the recommended level and oil your chain. Spending $60 for a tune up in the spring is money well spent. If you’re looking to save money, you can enroll in bicycle maintenance courses. You’ll learn about everything from repairing a flat tire to adjusting your brakes. Speaking of flat tires, if you’ll be commuting to work it’s important to find a bicycle repair shop that’s nearby. Ideally, you’ll be able to drop your bike off at lunch and pick it up after work to ride home.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to dress from head to toe in spandex to cycle to work, but there is some basic gear everyone should own. Cycling gloves and pant guards are a must. The last thing you want is to get oil on your pants or tear them. Buying cycling gear at the local neighbourhood bike shops can be expensive; Mountain Equipment Co-op has a great selection at reasonable prices.
If you’ll be riding in the rain, be sure to pick up waterproof coat and pants and shoe covers to keep your feet dry; look for Gortex. If you’re planning to ride during the winter, pick up a bike just for that. You can often find cheap bikes at your local bike shop, or you can try searching on Kijiji or Craigslist. Winter cycling can take its toll on your bike; it’s not worth ruining a $500 bike just to save $300 on transit.
Keeping Your Bike Safe and Sound
Toronto may be the home of the CN Tower and iconic Toronto Maple Leafs hockey franchise, but we also have the dubious honour of being the bike-theft capital of North America. I’ve been fortunate to never had my bike stolen in all my years of cycling. While lady luck has been on my side, I also do all I can to protect my bike.
Where you park your bike is crucial. You don’t want to choose a location that’s isolated. You want to want to choose somewhere that’s well-travelled. Your bike is less likely to be stolen if there are dozens of potential witnesses around. If you’ll be commuting to work, consider buying a less expensive bike just for that and save your expensive bike for the weekends. Make sure you invest in a decent bike lock. It’s foolish to buy an expensive bike and be a cheapskate with your lock. That’s like putting a sign on your bike that says “please, steal me.”
Would you ever consider trading in your four wheels for two wheels and cycling to work?
Author Bio: Sean Cooper is a Personal Finance Expert and Financial Journalist. He is a first-time homebuyer and landlord who aspires to reach findependence by age 31. Follow him on Twitter @SeanCooperWrite and read his blogs and request his Writing and Web Design services on his website: