A few years ago when gas prices rose to around $4.50 per gallon, it basically changed the way I looked at almost everything. Prior to that I drove literally everywhere, had a half dozen cars in the driveway, and didn't really consider anything different than the usual "American way" to do things (ie: drive, put myself at the mercy of big oil companies, and work even more to pay the bills). Fast forward to now. I currently have no home (by choice), no debts (by choice), no permanent employment (by choice), and one car (in storage). How did that happen? Here's how:
- I saw that gas prices were about $4.50 per gallon and became offended at both the high price and the way that the government, futures investors, and others jerked the average person around with gas prices that seemed to rise and fall apparently on a whim.
- Then we were on vacation, hopping on and off about any kind of public transit you could think of (city bus, jeepney, tricicyleta, motor scooter, etc) for basically pennies per ride, and it dawned on me that I had never considered public transit in my own country.
- I made a list of what types of public transit I could reasonably use in my own city. The list included walking, bicycling, city bus, light rail, train, and car pooling.
- Next I actually experimented with each type of transportation to see if #1, these options were feasible considering my work/lifestyle, and if #2, using these options actually saved me money. I found out that the answer to both of these questions was a resounding YES.
- As I made each these differing forms of transportation a part of my lifestyle (ie: walking to the grocery store, bicycling for errands that were a bit further, riding the bus all over the city to business meetings and social events, hopping on light rail when it was convenient, car pooling quite often to meetings, and even taking a train to get out of the city for the weekend) I realized that it would be possible to cut back on the cars, the gas expense, and the total reliance on big oil for my every excursion.
- So we now have one car that the spouse and I share. Did I mention that life is much simpler now? Only one car to maintain, clean, keep track of, pay taxes on, register, insure, etc.
That's the short version. After the cars went, I considered what other things I had just accepted as fact and considered ways to turn those assumptions on its head as well. So I quit working, sold the house, sold almost everything we owned, packed up a backpack, and have decided to travel for a while as a kind of "sabbatical" from the rat race.
But back to the topic of this post... The bottom line: when gas prices begin to skyrocket again, consider what alternate forms of transportation you could take to both save money and reduce your reliance on big oil. Who knows? Making this small choice could lead you in a direction you never imagined.