Contemptlating my mortality and reducing my standard of living
Jan 18, 2020 at 12:08 pm #3627724
Thinking about going car-free and scooter-free after being involved in a motorcycle accident. I was waiting at a red light and hit from behind. Knee is messed up and I got a concussion and laceration on my forehead. At the age of almost 55 I feel like I’m racing time to try not to fall apart before I’m free of this working for a living bullshit, and I feel like I’m going to lose the race. Now I’m thinking maybe I can win the race if I just let other people pay for and maintain motor-vehicles and I’ll pay them a little here and there to use them (uber, the bus) or else I’ll just ride my e-bike or walk. Just think of it, no insurance, no new tires and oil changes, no gas. Does anybody here live this way? My boss lives this way and the more I think of it, the more sense it starts to make. He also does this thing where he only wears one thing: Black jeans and a black t-shirt. I think he’s one of these minimalists.Jan 18, 2020 at 1:15 pm #3627732Monte MastersonBPL Member
@septimiusLocale: Changes Often
Very sorry to hear about your injuries. I hope this doesn’t keep you away from hiking very long.
It’s true that a minimalist lifestyle keeps you from having to work as much. It’s just that our consumer culture has so many of us conditioned to think we need all of this stuff, but I’ve found none of it makes me happy (except UL backpacking gear maybe). There are countless videos on YouTube about minimalism and I think I’ve watched most of them. A lot of people preach about global warming when in fact they have a very large carbon footprint, at least in America anyway.
Hope you heal up and are back on the trail soon.Jan 18, 2020 at 2:51 pm #3627748Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Yeah, hope you get well soon
Thoreau – Walden Pond – that was an idea of his, if you “have a job” then you have to buy a bunch of stuff like clothes and transportation. If you just subsist you don’t need as much stuff so you don’t need to work as muchJan 18, 2020 at 6:48 pm #3627802Greg MihalikBPL Member
Google is your friend –
There are many hits on cost comparisons for a number of cities and situations.
Get out the spreadsheet, be brutally honest, and decide. (You don’t have to sell the car to start the experiment.)
Also, long ago, when I lived in the city, friends shared a van to cover longer trips throughout the year.Jan 18, 2020 at 7:53 pm #3627834Joel HBPL Member
I am at that age as well. Material things don’t mean as much to me anymore and I have never really lived as a big consumer ever as I have been off grid in the wilderness for nearly 53 years but there was always some other tool or piece of machinery I wanted, now I ask real hard. Will I get that much pleasure out of that? If not I don’t need it.Jan 18, 2020 at 7:56 pm #3627836
I would not need uber for regular use. Just for those rare, extra special things. I really meet all the conditions to not be a car owner very easily.Jan 18, 2020 at 8:15 pm #3627844Adam KilpatrickBPL Member
@oystersLocale: South Australia
Sorry to hear about your accident!
You might be interested in the FIRE community (Financial Independence Retire Early). Try MrMoneyMoustache … he has lots of great articles (inc about what you are pondering) and also there is a great forum community on there.
Cheers!Jan 18, 2020 at 9:31 pm #3627858David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
I hope you’re on the mend, Piper.
I know a number of people up here who take it further: no rent, no mortgage, no gas, electric, phone, internet or insurance bills. Living mostly like it was 1890 ( = the 1940’s locally). Buy a few acres for $5,000 after a summer of fishing. Throw up a 10×10 or 15×15 cabin. Heat with a wood stove. Mush dogs. Having a vehicle helps (to haul water, dogs, and dog food), but it can be pretty minimal if you do your trips on nicer days. The library has internet (and books). The rec center has showers. Friends like us have laundry.
Our cities suck for being able to get by without a car. Other than NYC and SF, it is only certain neighborhoods of Seattle, Boston, Philly, etc where one is in walking distance of everything they need, versus every single city in Europe: within 4 blocks, there’s a green grocer, butcher, bakery, clothing shop, hardware store, and there’s public transit to one’s workplace, school, hospital, etc.
But Uber/Lyft (I think Lyft has been significantly less evil than Uber) changes the equation for that weather you can’t bicycle in, that big grocery run, etc.
Motorcycles and scooters are dangerous (because cars don’t see them), alas, because otherwise, they’re cheap, high milage and perhaps better for the planet. Bicycles aren’t much safer, for the same reason, unless you’ve got a dedicated bike path. But walking? Miles and miles each day? That might be the biggest thing you can do to have an active, healthy, enjoyable retirement – stay active now. Colin Fletcher (“The Man who Walked Through Time”, “Backpacking one Step at a Time”, etc) got run over by a car at age 79 and pretty busted up. The ER docs were amazed at what great shape he was in and how quickly and almost completely he rebounded, due to his live-long daily hiking.Jan 18, 2020 at 11:07 pm #3627868rubmybelly!BPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
Sorry to hear about the accident Diane.
About time — because really it’s all about time — I decided to live with a lot less (lot less) so that I didn’t have to work anymore. I have yet to regret it. And I have a lot more time to do what I want.Jan 19, 2020 at 1:01 am #3627874Phong DBPL Member
I’ve thought about waiting till i’m older so that I can do what I love (hiking). But I’ve decided that I might not make it that long…or my health and sanity wont. So every 3 years I just quit my job and start hiking the PCT. It turns out I can save up enough money to pay for 6 months off (cuz hiking can be cheap). Also, knowing that in 3 years I’ll be out of the rat race for a bit makes those years MUCH more bearable. Its the feeling that you are not really trapped, and that your work has meaning (your saving up for your trip) It works for me and makes my time in the “fake” world much better until I can get back to “reality”…the PCT.Jan 19, 2020 at 12:14 pm #3627915
I’ve often looked at various land, but I’m afraid of being chained to property taxes. If you buy land where it is cold you have to figure out what to do with yourself over the winter. But if you buy worthless desert land you have a place to live in winter and can figure out what to do with yourself in the summer, which is much easier. But all that desert land always looks so bleak and I’m always afraid of being ripped off.
I used to read a lot of websites about financial independence but I am turned off by the whole notion of spending my time chained to the stock market. I watch those guys in coffee houses each day. What an awful lifestyle.
I was more intrigued by the Rancho Costa Nada guy who bought land in the desert for $300 and put up a shack, his neighbors a bunch of paranoid gun nuts and other detritis of America.
But I’m a woman, which makes it harder to just do whatever. There are safety concerns. I’m also a middle-class person and it is hard to leave a middle-class life. I’ve always been conflicted about what to do with myself.
I currently ride my bike to work 4 days per week usually. 50% of the ride is on a separated bike path along a creek between an open space and people’s back yards. That other 50% though. If I take the bus, it’s a mile walk to and from the bus stop. I used to do that every day until my feet started hurting too much. Walking is pretty scary, too, though. I’ve had a lot of close calls as a pedestrian. People do not look where they are going. I’m pretty defensive but even so, they will run you over in a cross-walk even if you think they saw you.
I hope I get fully better from this accident. I’ve had to go to the doctor twice since my ambulance ride. Once for my knee, which is okay but hurts and makes me limp, and once for my eye which is filled with floaters and bubbles now. Holiday weekends make for opthamologist vacations, apparently.
It’s a combination of access to healthcare for me and my partner (I provide it for him) and access to a heated, comfortable home (which he provides for me) and pets that keep us enslaved to all this. And inertia.Jan 19, 2020 at 12:49 pm #3627918Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
“I used to read a lot of websites about financial independence but I am turned off by the whole notion of spending my time chained to the stock market. I watch those guys in coffee houses each day. What an awful lifestyle.”
A lot of experts/data says individuals can’t select individual company’s stock better than low cost index fund, like Vanguard Total Market fund. Working people should just put their money there.
As you near retirement, gradually transition to 50% that, and 50% fixed income like a bank CD or a Vanguard index long term bond fund.
Maybe 10 minutes per year to rebalance to that 50-50 allocation
John Bogel’s book “Common Sense on Mutual Funds” is pretty good that talks about this in more detailJan 19, 2020 at 12:52 pm #3627920Jon FongBPL Member
@jonfongLocale: FLAT CAT GEAR
I have three daughters and two of them decided to give up owning a car. They bicycle, take busses and use Rideshare, One lives in San Diege so there is a lot of infrastructure there. The other lives in a tiny town in Vermont and the closest big city is 25 miles away. She uses Amazon Prime and her local gorcery store (Shaws) offers free delivery for $10 per month (flat rate). For young adults, managing college debit and the cost of auto insurance is pretty high. They both seem to be very happy and managing their finances fairly well. Hope that helps.Jan 19, 2020 at 1:01 pm #3627921MJ HBPL Member
I take the bus to work, even though we have two cars in a family two drivers. It saves quite a bit of money and, because of where I live/work, doesn’t really cost much time. With my laptop and the otherwise-unneeded books I carry to make my pack weight more, I figure the walking to and from the stop counts as training.Jan 19, 2020 at 1:27 pm #3627922KatttBPL Member
Where I work less and less students have cars or even know how to drive. They have enough money to get Uber when (…) public transport is not available. I think it makes sense for some people to go that route and less cars on the road works for me ;) . It’s not an option for us.
As far as simplifying life in general and getting rid of things, most people I know that have gone that route can afford to buy the stuff again when they need it; I cannot afford it so I put up with “stuff” I may only use once a year.Jan 19, 2020 at 1:54 pm #3627927David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
It’s far more common in Alaska than when I was in California, maybe it’s a rural thing, but I find there’s more borrowing and lending of stuff requiring each of us have less stuff. I’ve got a lot of power tools. And three chainsaws. And plumbing and electrical supplies. And a canoe and three kayaks. That local friends borrow. As I borrow their fishing boat, motor home, etc.
I love that some public libraries have set up tool lending libraries.
It’s not as extreme as in native villages where people who have extra fish give them to other people who already have fish who in turn give fish to others, but if I get 5 or 8 salmon one day, I give one or two of them away to the neighbors or an elderly person in town. I’ve had a friend ask in late summer if we have enough halibut in the freezer (my wife is a pescatarian) and then go out and catch another six and deliver them to my freezer.Jan 19, 2020 at 1:57 pm #3627928W I S N E R !BPL Member
Speaking generally, I wonder if people don’t get caught up focusing on externalities when in fact it is the internal landscape that needs work. If I am failing to find meaning and a sense of fulfillment in my life, I don’t see how ditching my car or getting rid of some stuff around the house has much to do with it, providing the maintenance of that stuff is within a comfortable budget. I’d venture to say that unless you’re driving a luxury car with payments you cannot afford, I highly doubt it’s the car that’s the problem.
The minimalism movement as I see it tends to boast almost magical results; get rid of stuff and you’ll suddenly feel better about yourself and your life. Presumably people will spend their time more wisely, on more fulfilling pursuits, without all the stuff. I’m not sure it’s so simple. Stuff or no stuff, you are who you are when you lay your head on the pillow at night. I think the minimalist movement has it quite backwards to an extent.
The pursuit of stuff for happiness can certainly become a black hole of ceaseless wanting. But not all stuff has to be so negative. As Kat said, I certainly wouldn’t get rid of something useful, even if I only use it every so often, simply to feel like I have less stuff…providing of course my life is not overrun with space issues. But I doubt the latter is the source of unhappiness for most people.
Generally speaking (I don’t know Diane whatsoever so don’t take this personally), I would wager these dilemmas come down to meaning, to finding meaning, and questions about spending one’s time in fulfilling ways. As a very material-oriented society, it’s not surprising to me that the solutions to one’s problems (such as minimalism) are also framed in materialistic and not spiritual/emotional (or whatever you choose to call it) terms. I think the internal work must be done first, the material shifts (if any) come as a by-product.
I can see how the “if I just get rid of all my stuff” mentality might be appealing, but it’s still falling into the trap of defining meaning and happiness through stuff (or the lack thereof).Jan 19, 2020 at 2:37 pm #3627930Jeffs ElevenBPL Member
I wonder what the rate of tiny home users feeling cramped in two years is.Jan 19, 2020 at 2:42 pm #3627931KatttBPL Member
Food for thought from Craig. ThanksJan 19, 2020 at 3:10 pm #3627934Franco DarioliSpectator
@francoLocale: Gauche, CU.
I’m reading this book right now
take a look . (her starting point was similar to yours)Jan 19, 2020 at 3:51 pm #3627941HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Our cities suck for being able to get by without a car. Other than NYC and SF, it is only certain neighborhoods of Seattle, Boston, Philly, etc
A friend of mine moved to Albuquerque and didn’t need a car for himself as work was somewhat close by. Probably some other cities and towns have walkable (or ”bikable”) neighborhoods.
Even in car-crazed Los Angeles for Thanksgiving, we just got an Uber XL instead of dealing with 3-4 vehicles parking, valet, etc …Jan 19, 2020 at 3:51 pm #3627942rubmybelly!BPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
“I would wager these dilemmas come down to meaning, to finding meaning, and questions about spending one’s time in fulfilling ways. As a very material-oriented society, it’s not surprising to me that the solutions to one’s problems (such as minimalism) are also framed in materialistic and not spiritual/emotional (or whatever you choose to call it) terms. I think the internal work must be done first, the material shifts (if any) come as a by-product.”
Lots of truth in your post. One of the best decisions I’ve made is regular conversations with a good therapist. It took me a few before I found one I really gelled with, but it was worth the effort.Jan 19, 2020 at 4:57 pm #3627949Adam GBPL Member
If you come to many big cities, people of all ages live car-less all the time. In NYC, only around half of all households own cars. There are a bunch of cities where it’s around a third. Nearly all of my trips are done by walking or biking, with occasional transit use. It’s very liberating. I walk over a freeway to work and watch all of the angry people waiting in traffic.
The issue with going car-less are when you need to haul things. It’s not a big deal because you rent a car to run to the hardware store to buy something big. However, on a weekly basis, it can be challenging because of groceries. If you can walk to the store, have good transit, are OK with going to the store multiple times a week, or will pay the premium for grocery delivery, it’s very do-able without a car.
The biggest issue for someone like you is accessing trails. They usually can only be accessed by car. If you always go hiking with someone else, you can usually bum a ride and repay them for gas and/or in food/beer. I do that a lot. But otherwise, you will either give up hiking or be renting a car a lot.Jan 19, 2020 at 5:02 pm #3627950
I’m about as far from a minimalist as you can get. I think reading about that archaeologist in Arizona who analyzed landfills turned me into a pack rat. I don’t like to throw things away.
The reason I was contemplating the car-free life is because I’m 55 in a month and the accident has me feeling like I could basically lose my dream of spending my older years hiking. By “dream of spending my older years hiking” you have to understand that in my 30s I read about a 66 year old lady who lived on the PCT hiking with her goat every summer. And when I was 10 years old was the first time I heard of the PCT and dreamed of hiking it ever since then. I got to do it in my 40s and after that decided to work and save to quit working at age 60 so I could be that 66 year old lady. You have no idea how many books I have read by solo women hikers and nomads.
I almost never drive my truck and should have sold it long ago. It sits three cars deep in our driveway. As far as a motor-vehicle, I ride a scooter instead, at least a few times per week, and despite not doing anything dumb myself and wearing a helmet, here I am with a head injury through no fault of my own, and a knee injury. I may have already lost my dream. This has me feeling very empty inside and also wondering if I should just do sooner rather than later, money be damned.Jan 19, 2020 at 8:14 pm #3627962Adam GBPL Member
“Feel like I’m racing time to try not to fall apart before I’m free of this working for a living bullshit”
You have faced your own mortality due to the accident. You have discovered how unfair life can be due to no fault of your own. This is scary indeed.
Get thee to a therapist. People have dedicated their lifetimes to understanding this for centuries on end. These things are very hard to process on your own. If money is an issue, there are sliding scale clinics.
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