Car Free Living

Just completed a book a few days ago entitled How to Live Well Without Owing a Car:  Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life by Chris Balish.  I got this book at the Arlington Courthouse Farmers’ Market (a table was set up and I filled out a questionnaire).  The book I got is the special edition for Arlington, Virginia (a supplement at the end of the book) discusses how easy it is to live car-free or car-lite in Arlington, Virginia).

Chris Balish calls his book both a personal finance and a lifestyle book.  He wants to show Americans how easy it is to live car free.  In Chapter 1, page 5,  Chris explains the purpose of his book.

This book isn’t written for people who live in New York City, where it’s common not to own a car.  The program is designed for people who live in the rest of America: in cities like Omaha, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Philadelphia, Salt Lake, Seattle, Miami, Sacramento, Washington, D.C., and so on.  You can also live well without a car in smaller towns like Oxford, Ohio; Columbia, Missouri; and Eugene, Oregon.

I didn’t expect Chris Balish to spend so much time discussing personal finances in the book.  He states that we Americans spend one-fifth of our income on cars.  By not owning a car and making monthly car payments, paying for gasoline, maintenance, insurance, parking, etc., we can achieve financial freedom.

Have you ever dreamed of taking six months off work to travel the world? Or maybe taking a year off to write a book? Or quitting your job to go back to graduate school?  Sadly, for most people these things are simply not possible because their monthly expenses are too high, and they don’t have enough savings.

When you live car-free, your monthly expenses drop dramatically and your savings can skyrocket.  This powerful combination can give you the freedom to live life on your terms.  Hate your job? Then quit, and take your time finding a new one.  Does your wife want to stay home and be a full-time mom?  She can.  Would you rather work for a nonprofit, even though it would require a pay cut?  Do it.  This is financial freedom:  the ability to make life decisions not based on financial concerns.  When you live car-free, you can have this type of financial freedom.

Page 10-11.

Chris Balish gives a concrete example of the financial freedom one can achieve, what happened when he gave up his car.

Since I gave up owning a car I am now totally debt-free, I’m saving an amazing 50 percent of my income, and I’m on track to retire at age forty-five.  Plus I live a more fulfilling life.  And I still get everywhere I need to go with ease.

I am living proof that a busy professional with a nine-to-five job really can go from driving fifteen thousand miles per year to rarely driving at all, and be much happier. Not to mention a heck of a lot richer.

Page 68.

Hmmm, something to consider!

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