A few months back I took on a challenge to go a week without a cell phone. It was tough, but ultimately I learned a lot.
And now, I will attempt to go a week without a car.
Really Jacob? Another challenge?
Yes anonymous reader, another challenge. In the words of Cosmo Kramer, “I like depriving myself of things, it’s fun!”
Okay, I really don’t enjoy depriving myself of things, in fact this challenge isn’t even voluntary.
I sold my car over the weekend, I had it for sale, but I didn’t really have any leads. However, on Saturday I showed it and sold it within eight hours, pretty impressive huh?
Anyway, I don’t have a car now, and because I wasn’t on the verge of selling it, I hadn’t purchased a car. So now I have to wait a week before I have time to go and find one, thus I have no car for a week. I decided, why let the opportunity go to waste? Might as well blog about not having a car.
The main takeaway from this challenge, I think, will be budgetary. After the phoneless challenge I concluded that if money were tight, I would give up my cell phone. There are plenty of other alternatives available to communicate with people, and cell phones are costly.
Vehicles are even costlier. You have to pay the insurance and make payments. Not to mention maintenance and gas. The big question, is owning a car economically worthwhile?
That question has already been answered for many residents who live in big metropolitan areas like New York and Washington D.C., where there is an easily accessible subway system that is quick and cheap. However, the vast majority of Americans don’t enjoy this luxury, and if you don’t live in a very populated area, you may have no mass transit options at all.
Here in East Lansing, we don’t have a subway, but we do have a bus system. And for this week, the bus is my friend.
Speaking of friends, I would lean on them to help me get around, unfortunately most are still out-of-town until school starts, including my roommate. So truly my only option is either a taxi or the bus system.
It’s already been a day, so I’ve had time to identify the biggest problems of this challenge. The main issue is going to be what I do after work. The bus is very easy to take to work and from work, but the bus ends at 7:15pm, so I’m sorta stuck in my apartment after that.
If I’m being honest, I really don’t have anywhere to go, but I have places I’d like to go. For instance last night I was craving Taco Bell for dinner, then remembered I had no car, and thus no Taco Bell. I ended up ordering in.
So far, I haven’t needed my car, I’ve simply wanted my car. I’ve wanted to drive places. It would be really nice to have a car, but I have other ways to get around, and once my roommate is back, it will be even easier.
But after a day and a half, I’m learning that I love to drive. Driving is relaxing for me, it’s therapeutic. If I need to clear my head, I go on a drive in the middle of nowhere. I can’t do that anymore.
I’m sure there are other people like me who have that same need, so the question you have to ask yourself is, “what, monetarily speaking, is that worth?”
Couple that with the other inconviences of not have an automobile…
-Is it worth it to take two bus routes totaling 40 minutes to go grocery shopping, and then do the same thing on the way back?
-Is it worth it to not have the power/ease to visit anyone at anytime on your schedule, not the bus’?
-Is it worth it to be able to drive to a friends house at 3am because they’re having a bad night?
-Is it worth it to be able to drive and get something to eat simply because you’re craving it?
Face it, we pay for convenience. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, in fact I’m a big believer in paying more for a more convenient option. But in most instances, a car isn’t a necessity, it is there for convenience, and it’s expensive to keep around.
Everyone has to evaluate their own tolerance. And if you can tolerate a long bus ride to the grocery store and the pain of carrying 12 plastic bags on the bus and back to your house, then ditch your car if you’re tight on money.
But so far, for me, I’m willing to pay $150 a month to have that freedom and convenience.