About six months ago I wrote an article called Spending Money to Make Money. While this adage is used at the most inappropriate of times, I actually believed that I had found a way to make money by first spending it. On top of that I would be enjoying the hell out of it too. Sounds too good to be true? Let’s see what’s what!
I bought a brand-spanking-new road bike to both commute to work and ride in my free time. In the past I rode my old mountain bike to work every now and again, but the thing had gotten so old that it nearly fell apart – well, it actually did fall apart when my fork broke on a downhill track. Because I’ve always wanted a proper race bike, my eyes fell on the Trek Madone 2.5.
Without going into detail on how awesome it is – because trust me, it really is a speed devil – I can without a doubt say that this two-wheeled marvel has topped my wildest expectations. I even crushed my goal of at least 50 bike commutes with it during the past months.
At the moment my bike enjoyed a little under 4,000km of road time with only the chain and tyres needing replacement. Of course, I had to make a ton of additional purchases like maintenance tools, cycling kit and proper lighting for the dark autumn and winter days. This machine really does require a running tab.
However, spending on expensive hobbies is an integral part of financial independence in my book, within reason of course. You should never cut back on things you love in order to save more at the end of the month – that’s just silly.
All in all, the non-financial part of the equation can’t get any better. It’s been a blast!
Nevertheless, things aren’t always black and white. So let’s also take a look at the financial aspect of my experiment, because that’s what it’s ultimately all about.
The fact that I don’t own a car is a massive financial advantage since the luxury of having one parked outside your front door usually costs around €400 every single month in Belgium. On top of that, I also receive €0.21 for every kilometer that I cycle to and back from work. Sounds like a massive win-win, right? It seems that way, apart from the fact that my commute to work was already completely free because my employer pays for public transport.
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
|Clothing and safety gear||-508.54|
Whoa, that’s a massive negative number! Seems like the experiment isn’t turning out great, now is it?
Actually, it’s going rather well all things considered. On top of the initial purchase price I had to buy into a lot of one-time things like clothes and lights, as mentioned above. The actual running costs of the bike are only about €140, or 10% of its initial cost, which isn’t too bad with 4,000km on the clock.
And it gets even better!
Currently I receive an average of €96 every month from my employer for my 64km total daily commute, but that’s only for two days. From February onwards I’ll be cycling to work every single day – or at least I’ll try to.
As a result, I’ll boost my cycling renumeration to a whopping monthly €240! That’s more than a 10% increase on top of my regular monthly salary or a full two and a half days of extra work hours logged. The mind, it truly boggles. Even with increased maintenance costs, I’ll come out ahead by the end of 2016.
The best part about all of this is the fact that I basically get to enjoy my hobby for free. Furthermore, my road bike has been an excellent purchase health-wise. I’ve never felt as physically fit, eaten as well – did you notice the increased grocery costs in my monthly income and expenses reports, ha! – or slept as deeply as I have over the past few months.
So I don’t mind the fact that this experiment nuked my 70% savings rate for 2015 one bit.
Have any of you guys made the switch to commuting by bike, or just ditching your car in favour of your bike in general? If not and if you hope to do so, maybe you’ll find inspiration in Australian vlogger Cycling Maven, who puts out daily videos on his cycling-centred lifestyle – highly recommended!
Love all the activity on your blog this past week!
Hope you can keep it up for 2016
I see you don’t have a mudgaurd, how do you deal with that?
Greetings from Antwerp!
Thanks, man! Really appreciate you saying that. I’m going to try and write more like I used to in the past. So stay tuned. 🙂
Currently I don’t use mudguards, but it’s starting to become a hassle to clean my bike after every ride. I’m looking into something like the SKS Race blades which are clip-on clip-off. Another option would be to purchase a cyclo cross bike, but that’s another €2,000 luxury spending on bikes.
Cheers and enjoy New Year’s eve in Antwerp,
Pretty impressive results so far, especially since you plan on increasing how many times you bike to work. My wife had a similar plan for the spring and summer months but I think you can count the number of times she biked to work on two hands, it was always a bit too cold or rainy for her 😉
Even with the increase of days it’s still a pretty good deal if you ask me. At the current rate I think it’ll take a little over two years to recuperate all my expenses. Boosting my cycling to five days a week will shorten that time significantly.
Too bad you’re wife didn’t see her effort through! How many kilometers does she have to commute to work? Maybe buy her some specialty clothing? 😉
Her commute is around 24km a day, including a long bridge. One of the reasons she doesn’t do it often is because she doesn’t want to arrive all sweaty at work, and also because of the extra time it takes vs taking the car.
I can understand that if she doesn’t have a shower at her disposal and when you have to run a family in the morning. 🙂 That’s why I asked to install a shower and locker room so I can freshen up before starting work.
My commute by bike is actually shorter than by train, but I also bike at 30+ kph on average.
Those are some awesome results, well done! I didn’t realise bikes cost so much on maintenance, but you’re getting a positive cash flow every month from cycling, which is a massive win!
Now that I’ve moved to Spain, I’m going to start getting into cycling in general, as well as cycling to work – something which would have been impossible for me back in the UK. My office is about 10 km from home, but it’s mostly mountainous terrain, so I’m not sure how long it’ll take me. Guess that rules out a road bike!
I can’t wait to start experiencing the health (and wallet!!) benefits of cycling!!
Ps. Happy new year!
Don’t worry, your standard city bike won’t nearly cost you as much on maintenance. It’s just that I’m riding a proper road bike with expensive components (Shimano Ultegra), which go for lightness over pure durability like normal bikes do. The cash flow is slowly starting to become positive though now that I’ve got al basic tools and clothing!
If by “mountaineous terrain” you mean dirt roads you should invest in a mountain bike, otherwise I’d highly recommend a road bike. My commute to work also contains over 200m of elevation and a light bike definitely helps keeping your speed up. 10km would only take me 20 minutes at most!
Good luck biking to work! I’m super jealous of the awesome weather you’ll be enjoying there!
Best of luck,
Awesome investment! A return period of about 1.5 years on a bike + expenses is very good.
Unfortunately, neither of our employers pays for a bike ride. However, Mrs CF gets a public transportation card and Mr. CF has a company car, both are free of charge (the latter only when used for business purposes, which we do), therefore our commuting cost are extremely cheap at €0,0!
However, we both would prefer the bike though!
Keep paddling 😉
That’s exactly my view on the situation. I view the entire experiment as a success already because it decreased the costs of a hobby by quite a lot already. 🙂
Before I started cycling I also received a free public transportat card, which is simply awesome. Gotta love free commuting! Many of my friends lose an arm and a leg getting to work. I’m glad to hear you guys also don’t have to pay for any of the commute costs.
I must say I really like your blog, keep up the nice posts!
A bike is a very good investment to keep down your commute costs so I think you made a great choice.
I hope to read some more posts soon!
Thank you very much – I appreciate your kind words and I hope you learned a thing or two!
My commute previously didn’t cost anything, so the bike is not a pure cost savings operation, but in the end I’ll definitely come ahead because of the additional income.
More posts coming up! Currently got three posts waiting in the queue already, ha.
64km every day! That will keep you fit indeed. Congrats on the extra cash from it this coming year. I’m sure with fuel & insurance savings this will work out well for you. Also if you were to calculate the amount you would need to get that same amount passively, you’d almost need €100k ( €240*12 months = €2.880 / 0.03 = €96.000).
I think nuking your savingsrate would be like buying a yacht or so, as that would really put an upkeep cost on your budget.
I cycle to work as well, but my commute is only 6km total per day. I do get some cash from my employer for that as well, which is nice :).
I like cycling as it gets the blood going and puts me in a good mood. I do like living closer to work so I can spend some of that commuting-time on other things.
Just tuned up my bike and spent $100, bought it 3 years ago for $800. Has saved me a good amount of money (and commuting stress).
All the best in 2016!
Both health-wise and financially taking my bike to work is a no-brainer! Earning over €13 every day simply by riding to work, who doesn’t like the sound of that?
I hadn’t thought of the passive income implications yet, but that’s a lot of money I’d have to save up. Almost €100.000 takes me at least four years to save.
I’m glad to hear you jumped on the cycling-to-work bandwagon too, even though it’s only 6km! You’re one of the only ones I know that also receives cash from their employer for doing so. 🙂 Living closer to work would be nice for me too. Then again, I use the commute time to eke out a good training, sometimes even taking a longer route home.
With just $900 in total running costs over three years I’m sure you have yourself a super deal going on! I could easily reduce my costs too, but I simply love riding my race bike too much, ha!
Best wishes for 2016,
Hi NMW, great topic! I used to commute daily for 1 year to my former workplace (5kms from home) every day, except 2 times when it was snowing. I didn’t receive a renumeration (fietsvergoeding) like you did, but the fact I was able to sell 1 of the household’s cars brings me lightyears ahead 10 years from now, compared to still owning that car.
I want to congratulate you not only on your daily big-ass bicycle commute (64 km !), but even more on how you contribute to keeping our daily air clean. Thanks!
Even without the renumeration biking to work is an awesome deal for most people. I’m always amazed on how many people sit in their idle car waiting until traffic clears up every single morning… That’s a very expensive and ludicrous way to get around!
The bicycle commute seems huge, but after you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad. One way (32km) takes me a little under an hour, which is not much slower compared to walking and taking the train to work.
Yay for clean air! 🙂