One Year of Biking to Work

August 2017 rolled around, and it marks one year of me riding my electric bike to/from work on a regular basis. Through the cold of winter to the heat of summer, I’ve ridden through most of the extremes we get here in southern California. I tried to stick to a schedule of riding four days per week, using the 5th day to rest and make sure my truck continues to work optimally. My daily ride is 8.69 miles each way, where as my driven commute is 10.5 miles each way (it’s faster to take the freeway). So over the course of the past 12 months (August 1, 2016 to July 31, 2017), I rode my bike to work a combined total of 164 days. For comparison, I drove my truck to work a total of 62 days, and a lot of those were due to California getting a much wetter-than-average winter. I don’t ride in the rain, to try and keep the bike in as optimal shape as possible. Doing some quick napkin math, that means I saved 3,444 miles that would have normally gone onto my truck by riding the bike 2800 miles instead.

 

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Finish Him! — Paying off the last bit of debt

It’s been a year since we started aggressively attacking our debt. The first to go was the car loan with an 8+% interest rate, and it was an obvious choice. Just by paying that off early, we’ve saved more in interest fees than we would have earned on that same cash in a savings account. Since we started seriously trying to kill our debt, we’ve gone on to also pay off Alex’s student loans and finished paying for the new windows in our home. That brings me to the topic of this posting: the last bit of debt, which is my truck payment. Over the past 10 months, I have been aggressively attacking that loan by throwing as much cash at it each month as I could without feeling like I didn’t have enough emergency cash available. The interest rate on the loan is only 1.75%, so I’m not saving an extreme amount of money by paying this off early, but it does add up. My agreed upon payment for the loan was $501 per month, and in the grand scheme of things this is quite ridiculous. Nobody should really be paying that much money towards a motorized couch, but when I first got into the loan, I had yet to see the light of mustachianism. (more…)

Refinancing our future

refinance-houseIn August 2016 I finally decided to take the plunge on refinancing. Interest rates have been low for quite a while now, and I’ve been on the fence about doing this for at least a year. After reading many articles about whether to refinance or not, it was decided that we should do it. The ultimate goal was to lower the payments and not take any equity out of the house. The lowering of payments was accomplished mostly by removing the private mortgage insurance we were paying on our FHA loan. When we originally bought the house in 2010, FHA was our only option. Our apartment rent was going up again and it was finally past the point at which we could mortgage a house instead and actually pay less on housing costs. The only problem was that we had not been saving enough to accumulate a very large down payment. With FHA, a 3.5% down payment of about $8k was enough to secure a mortgage in our price range. With that extremely low down payment came the burden of PMI though. Each month, $149 of my payment was not going towards principle, interest, or taxes. It was basically burning money, and I wanted to get rid of that specific burden as soon as I could. Recently, the housing market has been going gangbusters in our neighborhood, and with very little input by us, the value of our house has risen from the $230k we paid for it up to the mid $300k range. We’ve updated our kitchen and a bathroom, and installed new windows, but otherwise the house is the same as it was when we bought it 6 years ago. It’s amazing how real estate markets can change in relatively short periods of time.

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Saving Money by Saving Power

moneyelectricityLiving in California, electricity is a big part of a lot of people’s utility costs. Recently, in our attempt to become more frugal, and start saving money, we’ve started taking notice of little things like the electric bill. For as long as Alex and I have been together, the electric bill has just been something that we pay at the end of the month, and otherwise don’t think about it. Now that we are trying to be more frugal, it was ripe for trimming to remove excess fat. Having lived in a house with my parents where the average monthly electric bill was an insanely high $400, I thought we were already doing well when we moved in together by having a bill under $100. That was a significant cut and it was mostly attributable to the fact that two people on the same work schedule simply don’t use the same amount of electricity as a household with five people living in it. But now, I am realizing that even a bill that low is pretty high for two people.

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Biking Home to Success – Part Two

e-bikeSo it has been a few months since my initial post on biking home from work. Since then, a lot has changed. After riding home for about a month during one of the hottest months of the year, I decided to go for it with the e-Bike. Much deliberation was involved, and after that, plenty of research. In the end, I decided to go for a pre-built e-Bike that would be covered under warranty in case anything were to fail. I took my time doing research and decided I still wanted to go fairly cheap. I found ProdecoTech and their newly released Phantom 400. It was relatively cheap compared to some other e-Bikes I investigated, both online and in my local bike shop. I’ve already written about the ProdecoTech Phantom 400 on my personal travel-blog, you can check it out if you’d like to read more details.

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Biking Home to Success

bicycling-to-workToday I learned something really cool about my job: You get paid bonus money to use alternative forms of transportation.

Let me go back a week though. Last week, I was wondering how I could save money by driving my truck less. It is an inefficient commuting machine, although it’s great at driving me out to the lake for a weekend of fun on the water. I thought about riding my bike to work. It’s just under 9 miles one way, uphill for about 95% of the route. While it’s feasible for someone with much more experience biking, and with an efficient road-centric bike, to me it seemed out of reach. I eventually dismissed it as impossible, and started day-dreaming about an e-Bike that would propel me up the hills without much effort on my part so I could arrive at work not covered in sweat. While an e-Bike would be cool, they are expensive. I could build my own from a kit, but I didn’t really want to mess with my perfectly functional bike’s current state. I may consider it in the future, but for now it’s off the table. We’re trying to save money, not blow more on something like this. (more…)

First Step: Becoming Frugal

I’ve recently been binge reading the Mr. Money Mustache blog. It’s all about frugality and saving now for a happy, leisurely life in the future. While we’re not yet to the point that we can start saving 70% of our income, we are working on other ways to save money. Hopefully we will be able to use his and other techniques to help us move ourselves to our future life in Utah.

trailerThis weekend was the first foray into our new biking frugality. After many, many articles read about riding your bike instead of taking the car for short trips, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. I got my bike tuned up and running smoothly and Alex got a new bike. After the setback of her fracturing her radial head, we are back on top of this new biking kick. As mentioned before, this weekend was our first big test. I recently acquired a trailer for my bike so that we can transport larger necessities from stores and other sources. On Saturday, we toured our local neighborhoods with the trailer in tow, searching for bike accessories at yard sales. Although we didn’t find much, and it probably wasn’t worth towing the trailer for this trip, we did find a few goodies to make our biking trips better. Sunday morning we headed off to Costco with the trailer in tow and our new membership cards in pocket. While shopping, we loaded it up with tons of well-priced, bulk goodies. Everything sold at Costco is bulky, but we avoided having too many things to bring home by using the bike trailer as a hand cart. If it didn’t fit in the cart while wandering the store, there was no way to bring it home. It turned out to be a very good plan, and there was no issue zipping up the trailer and hauling it home. Even while browsing the store with our own cart, we had many comments from employees and customers about how it was a great idea, and how they love what we’re doing. I’m not exactly a social person by nature, but even I was a little excited to explain what it was and how it worked. I was a little wary that with a full cart holding something like 40lbs would be a little tougher to pull. It wasn’t. With the ability to switch gears, you can easily get the extra weight moving with minimal extra work. When heading downhill and hitting the higher gears, the weight actually seemed to be more beneficial by increasing my momentum for the occasional inclines at the other end of the hills.

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Our Goals and Aspirations

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Hello! Welcome to our humble blog. I’m your host, Joey, and I’ll be writing here from time to time with updates on our progress towards our ultimate goal of living a simple but satisfying life in the great state of Utah. Alex may also be around to share her insights into this new and exciting time in our lives. (more…)