go car free course

Lesson 26

The Result: Happier, Healthier, and (Much) Wealthier

“Everyone in my office thinks I’m in my late twenties when I just turned forty. It makes me feel great. And when you feel good, other aspects of your life are affected also.”
 – Colin Turner, Car Free Bicycle Commuter

My brother used to be a serious designer coffee addict. He would stop at Starbucks at least twice a day. Despite years of lecturing him about the negative health effects of his habit, I was never able to convince him to give it up. Then I tried a different tactic; I showed him how much money he was blowing on his latté fetish (about $260 per month). That convinced him to give it up cold turkey.

Months later he told me about the many unexpected benefits of no longer being addicted to coffee. In addition to saving money, his teeth were whiter, he was sleeping better, he lowered his blood pressure, he was less moody and irritable, he no longer got the mid-morning jitters, he didn’t have coffee breath, there were no more coffee stains on his clothes so his drycleaning bill was lower, and he felt better about not filling up the landfill with paper coffee cups.

Giving up car addiction is similar in many ways. Financial savings might be the initial motivating factor, but there are dozens of other benefits that come along with kicking the habit.

Many of these benefits you would never predict, but you’ll sure notice them when they materialize. Here’s a list. You may experience some, many, or most of the following by going car free.

Yahoo Finance article

Financial Benefits

  • Slash your monthly expenses
  • Pay off your credit cards
  • Become debt-free
  • Save for a down payment on a home
  • Build an investment portfolio
  • Face fewer unexpected expenses
  • Pay off your mortgage early
  • Maybe even become a millionaire over time
Car Free Success Story:

I’d say the financial payoff is that it allows me to live quite comfortably on less than $20,000 a year.

Daniel L., 30

Graduate Student, Portland, OR

view of traffic at night from an overpass

Lifestyle Benefits 

  • Spend less time sitting in traffic
  • Deal with less aggravation
  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Spend more time on what’s meaningful to you
  • Have a built-in excuse for things you don’t want to do
  • Work less because you spend less
Car Free Success Story:

Not owning a car has allowed me to create a simplicity to life that I was not able to do while using a car for transportation.

Dr. M. Sharp

Computer Science Instructor and Martial Arts Instructor, Hartford, CT

Two people on wooded bike path

Physical Benefits

  • Get more exercise
  • Improve your health
  • Sleep better
  • Burn more calories
  • Develop a firmer butt and thighs
Car Free Success Story:

Our national addiction to riding in cars parallels our national addiction to soda, sugar, etc., and our national obesity problem. Without a car you get a lot more exercise, even if you are taking the bus everywhere, because you have to walk to and from bus stops. Even better if you bike or walk instead of taking the bus.

Amy P., 32

Manager of a Non-Profit, Portland, OR

Emotional Benefits

  • Have fewer responsibilities
  • Have less to remember
  • Lower your stress level
  • Find it easier to relax
  • Know you’re helping the planet, not hurting it
Car Free Success Story:

Living car free means less to worry about. I don’t have an expensive “investment” sitting out in the parking lot that someone could break into, crash into, or steal. Life is simpler. I feel I have gotten rid of an “addiction” that took up time and wasted money.

Garrick S., 43

Electrical Engineer, Santa Barbara, CA

The Most Valuable Benefit

Perhaps the most valuable benefit of car free living is peace of mind. It comes from the cumulative effect of the many smaller benefits listed above.

For example, solid personal finances and good health are essential to peace of mind. And peace of mind is the foundation for building a high quality of life.

When you get rid of your car all these benefits add up to one big payoff: a richer, healthier, less stressed life.

Man riding bike

Next up is Lesson 27, Give Back: How to Spend All That Extra Time and Money

After you sell your car you will soon be seeing the big financial benefits of car free living. But what should you do with the extra money? Definitely save and invests for the future. But also give back. Lesson 27 has some ideas.

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