The Sprint to FI

Breaking your Default Programming

As small children and through our teens to adulthood, we learn a lot from our environment, families and friends. Much has been written about this and I’m not going to delve deep into that. However, what I learned as a kid has stayed with me for a long time, some of that to my detriment.

An example of this is my drive to clean my plate of food. It didn’t matter of how much food was put in front of me. From a very young age, my parents would encourage me to ‘eat up’ sometimes to the point that I was not allowed to leave the table until all my food was gone. This has stayed with me through adulthood and to this day I struggle with it still. It is part of the reason that I am overweight.

There are other things that we learn that may not be to our advantage. The American dream of college, a house and 2.4 children is another that needs to be unlearned. Mike Rowe of dirty jobs is very outspoken on the “you need a degree to get a good job and earn lots of money” which as we now know is blatantly untrue.

There are other, more insidious things we learn and keep, and some things that are just plain out of date. One of my favorites is that we must never discuss money. Why? I have no idea. If more of us discussed money perhaps fewer of us would be in financial dire straits?

This morning, over coffee with Cat, I was thinking about the car. Because we are moving to the city, we may not need it. Cat has some disquiet about that though; she has never been without a car all though her adult life. Up until we moved to Colorado, I was the same.

Now if I need to go somewhere I use Lyft, and it costs a lot less than having a second car. We still think it is miraculous that we don’t have a car payment! Why? Because we are raised to believe that a car is essential and because life is hard and expensive, we will always have a car payment.

I understand her feeling on this. I was a little skittish about not having a car initially. Now I embrace the fact that I do not have $20-$30k+ of metal that might use once per week, depreciating before my eyes.

We chose a location in the city that allows us to walk to almost everything we need. In cases where we cannot walk there is the light rail. But occasionally we may need to go where there is no light rail and depending on where there are apps for that. I use Lyft for short trips, but then there is Zipcar and other similar apps for short term rental. In the case of a longer term rental there is also traditional car rental.

This morning I had a bit of a revelation. We pay about $100/mth for insurance, we have about $25k in capital tied up, and we spend about $40/mth in gas. What is wrong with that picture?

  • The capital is depreciating rather than appreciating.
  • $100/mth for insurance is a lot.
  • The gas is cheap as we don’t travel that far.

You may think, as I did before this morning, well that’s not bad. Its not but lets compare it to something like Zipcar. You pay a monthly fee of $7 to have access to a car 24/7. Rental is by the hour at about ~$10/hr. Fetching the groceries and running errands once a week may add up to $60 per month maybe. Cheaper than the $100+$40 we spend now and without the depreciation. Where we are to be living I don’t see us needing a car once per week, especially if we can get the groceries delivered! Currently King Soopers are charging $10 to deliver and to me, its worth that for the time I get back because I hate grocery shopping.

What I haven’t mentioned yet is vehicle maintenance. Owning your own vehicle means oil changes, tires, and routine maintenance. All of this is time and money. With car sharing apps, there is none of this. Zero.

On paper at least the car sharing apps win, but its hard to break that feeling that you are trapped because you don’t have a car. Its tough to break that, but I believe breaking these learned behaviors is worth it.


  • Ellen

    I’d say it is totally doable given your location and access to trains and a variety of car rental services. It really comes down to whether you are a planner or more the spontaneous type for your longer trips. We are more the wake up on Saturday morning and decide to drive to Wyoming types. By the time we had our coffee and decided what we wanted to do, it was too late to rent something so we’d skip it. As a consequence, we ended up not seeing as much of our new state as we thought we would. We later opted for the used car route but went too cheap on the first one and still ended up not seeing as much. Of course as soon as we get something road trip worthy, COVID-19 decides we are staying home.

  • Tony

    Oh it is totally doable. Cat and I were chatting about this again today; talking about how lucky we are to live where we do. I think for Cat (and she should chime in here) its more to do with access to family, but even that, with ZipCar and Avail (which is a service our apartment supplies) we could be with family in a matter of maybe 30 minutes. Its a mindset more than anything else, but its hard when you have been told you must have a car and car payment for your entire adult life.

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