Yep, the road pictured above is actually part of my daily commute to work. It’s a beautiful stretch of green next to a relatively large lake in the car-free park of Tervuren, which also houses the Royal Museum for Central Africa. Now can you understand why I ride 32km to and from work every day? And that’s not even the best part: I’m getting paid to do so!
About one year ago I decided to purchase a road bike – or a race bike to be more precise. Since the time of purchase the beautiful Trek Madone 2.5 has been put through its paces. Being a full-bred race marvel, it has helped me crush my personal records over and over. Even though I’ve always been pretty fast on a bike, I’ve seen my average speed and power climb week after week.
For reference: I ride to work in one hour – that’s 32kph on average on relatively hilly roads.
Of course, fun and speed comes at a cost with the Madone coming in at an upfront investment of €1,583 last year in May. Then there’s bike specific clothing, safety gear, maintenance and a whole other host of expenses to keep the thing going.
During my half-year review in December of last year I did point out that on top of the initial purchase price I had spent over €800 on miscellaneous and bike-related things. And of course, that number has grown even larger. As you can see, hobbies come at a cost.
However, two financial advantages offset this high cost – when you compare the total cost to my usual monthly expenses, it truly is massive.
First, I don’t own a car. Together with living arrangements, car ownership is one of the bigger household expenses and I’m happy to keep it off my books for the time being. The luxury of having a car parked outside your front door usually costs about €400 every month in Belgium, which is a mind-numbingly large number for a heap of deteriorating steel and rubber.
Second, my employer pays me a royal €0.21/km for riding to work through a tax-free incentive scheme initiated by the federal government a couple of years ago. So every workday I earn an additional €13.44, or more than what I make after taxes in one workhour. That’s €240.80 on average every month, or almost 15% on top of my net salary – mind blown.
So let’s take a look at the numbers with a little over €8,000km on the clock:
|Tools and gear||-556.00|
|Clothing and safety gear||-536.49|
Boom, that’s €600 less in the hole than six months ago!
Considering that I’ve since bought a new chain, cassette, and a brand-spanking new Garmin 520, which also included a heart-rate monitor and a speed and cadence sensor, I’d say that’s pretty impressive. At the moment I’ve recuperated my initial purchase.
So, even though I’m still not “making any money by spending money”, I’m getting closer and closer. If you subtract the one-time purchases, such as tools and safety gear, I’m making money hand over fist simply by doing something I love – or, if you prefer, my hobby is earning me cold, hard cash.
And to me that’s by far the best part of this entire experiment. The fact that I get to enjoy myself while going to work and at the same time earn additional income is amazing! On top of that, I’m also building my health. I sleep longer and more stable, my physical fitness soared to new heights, and my resting heart rate dropped back below 50.
It’s true that I missed my 2015 savings goal because of the Madone, and it’s likely that I miss the same 70% savings rate in 2016 because of it, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Honestly, the only downside to riding this much is having weird tanlines on your legs, arms, and even face since I wear glasses.
Let’s see if I manage to break even before the end of the year!