Last April I wrote to you about how you should pay money for a gym membership. The point of the article was that it is far too difficult to motivate ourselves to do something we all know we should be doing. Instead, spending $50 to $100 per month is the motivation many people need in order to keep themselves healthy. The long-term cost savings (which will come because you will not be going to the doctor as much) will outweigh the costs of the gym membership. However, those who are living a frugal lifestyle will know that there are other options. One of those options is to get a bicycle.
As the US realizes the need to “go green” more people are taking the time to bike to work. But this method of transportation is not just good for the environment; it is good for your health and for your pocket book. Let’s take a look at the math.
First of all, we will need to ignore vehicle maintenance, parking, tolls, and the like. Instead this analysis will look at just the cost of gasoline at $3.50+ per gallon (which as the price goes up, the financial benefits only become greater).
If your commute is 10 miles one way, the trip will cost you roughly $3.50 per day in an SUV and $2.30 in a car, assuming 20mpg and 30mpg respectively. This means if you work 5 days per week, 50 weeks per year, you will spend around $875 per year on gas while driving an SUV and about $600 per year with a car. However, if you ride a bike to work just a quarter of the days out the year (basically just the summer months) you would save $150 to $220. Or enough to cover the cost of a reasonably priced bicycle (not your expensive ones, but a basic commuter). But there is more to just saving on gas costs.A gym membership costs at least $50 per month. You can save $150 by cancelling it for 3 months out of the year (unless of course you are locked into a contract). Even if you do not have a gym membership, your healthcare costs will go down because, assuming you don’t get run over by a car, your body will reward you for the exercise and help you avoid the doctor. Fewer trips to the doctor will mean less out of your pocket.
The biggest argument to biking to work: I don’t have time for that. A 10 mile bike ride should take around 45 minutes depending on how fast you can ride. That same trip would take around 20 minutes if you were driving. The round trip will take an additional 50 minutes out of your day, or about what you would be spending at the gym.
Are you going to get rich riding your bike to work? Of course not. Will you save a little bit of money while making yourself and the planet healthier? Naturally. If you don’t already have a bike, go price out a cheap commuter (I got mine at Target for $200), and make the commitment to ride to work once per week. Need more of an incentive? Talk to your human resources department. Many companies will reward employees who bike to work, so your benefits will be even greater.
Do you bike to work? What are your concerns for not doing so?