06 July 2010


This is going to be a long, rambling post that may never go anywhere, so I won't blame anyone for bailing out after the first few sentences. It's one of those ones that I write mostly for my own benefit.
I've been reading a lot of personal finance blogs lately, with a few frugal living and investing sites thrown in. I think the thing about finances that I like is all the projections, planning, and calculations that are involved. It's like Fantasy Baseball, only the numbers are actually relevant to my life.

Lately I've been turning my eye toward transportation costs and thinking about selling my truck. Aside from housing, getting my keister to and from work is the biggest cost I've got. I finally remembered to reset the trip meter on my bike so I could get a reading on the fuel economy I've been getting. On the last tank of gas I got 51 1/2 miles per gallon, a far cry better than the 15 1/2 mpg my truck gets. I love my truck, but paying for gas and whatnot is an increasingly heavy and meaningless burden. When I first got the truck, my round trip to work was just over 8 miles. Then I got a new job and the commute tripled to about 26 miles. Then we bought a house and my commute extended by another 20 miles to a 46-mile round trip. It's nice having the truck to move bulky or heavy things, but we don't use it for that often enough to justify the expense of using it as a commuter. So I've been thinking and calculating and reading and projecting.

It would be nice to ride the bike to work all the time, but the variable weather makes this impractical or uncomfortable several months out of the year. If we have a wet spring like we did this year, the riding season is pretty short. The next best thing to the motorcycle is a little economy car, either something newer with really good gas mileage or something a little older that I don't have to make payments on. I projected out the various fuel costs, and over 100,000 miles (approximately 7 1/2 years) the economy car would basically pay for itself versus keeping the truck and driving it. I knew that driving the truck was hurting my wallet, but until I projected the numbers out for a couple of years I wasn't aware of how much.

All of this led me to look at various options. Selling the truck if I can find a buyer for it is pretty much a given. After coming up with some pretty solid dollar amounts I just can't stomach the thought of giving up all that just for the privilege of driving a truck to work. For a lot less I could drive a commuter car around, pay cash for an old beater truck to be used when I really have to haul something, and use the savings to fund things that are important to me, like increased retirement savings, a nice vacation for my family, motorcycle upgrades, all the miniatures I could ever want, or any number of things that are far more important to me than getting from point A to point B on a particular set of wheels.

There are even those who would argue that for a fraction of the price of motorized commuting I could purchase a very nice bicycle and commute under my own power. With a little maintenance I'm sure a good bicycle would outlast most cars while being a little less finicky about weather than a motorcycle. The health benefits alone would probably serve to make a strong case for bicycle commuting. But riding 23 miles every morning and evening sure sounds like a lot of work, although there are some days when the bicycle commute would surely take less time than the Interstate. It's an idea, but probably one that I'm not quite ready for.

I have wandered far and wide from my hobby-centric blog, and posts like these make me wonder a little if I should split up and write a few different blogs for each topic of interest to me (miniatures and gaming/personal finance/sports/news and interaction with family). The more I think about it, though, the more I think that splitting things up would just be confusing to me and annoying to those folks who follow my ramblings. Besides that, this blog is very self-serving, mostly functioning as a place for me to work out things in my mind. Even when thinking about things that I don't post here, I often try to form the ideas in my mind as a blog post as a way to edit my thoughts for clarity.

With my upcoming trip overseas I would expect that hobby posts will be few and far between, perhaps for quite a while. I do intend to pick up the new Warhammer Fantasy rulebook at some point in the future and I have plans to build a kit with paints, brushes, and my Dwarf army to stick in a footlocker to accompany me to the Middle East. Hopefully I can find a place and some time to paint an army while I'm away.

But for now I am focused mostly on preparing the house and family for my departure and getting practical things out of the way, like selling my truck and clearing stuff out of the garage. It's not great fun, but I would like to leave my family with a few less things to worry about while I'm off playing Army.

1 comment:

  1. I'm no expert or anything, but I say keep all your posts (no matter how diverse, far, and wide) under one roof. It makes it easier on us readers, and in its randomness kind of paints a more complete picture of the author at the same time. Just a thought...