Has it ever occurred to you that using public transportation on a daily basis can help you save money and reach your goals faster?
In my case; it was a total fluke.
Let me tell you how it turned out.
My roommate is a maven at riding the bus. The other day he went out the door shouting, “I am going to Target!” and slammed the door behind him. Thirty minutes later he was back from his trip, laden with grocery bags.
On a daily basis, he takes the bus to the gym, or to his parent’s home, or to work, and even to the movies. I am amazed at how much he can accomplish without a car. He moves around like he owns the city.
You see, I live in Orange County, CA, a wealthy and sprawling suburban county where having a car is a life or death situation- well, maybe not life or death, but pretty close. Because of this, walking or using public transportation is sort of snubbed on.
Car ownership it’s the norm and a status symbol around these lands. Only losers ride the bus.
Or so we think
The Adventure Begins
When my car lease ended last year, I was shaky about getting into a new car lease because I did not want to get locked into sky-high monthly payments. I’ve had had enough of that for years! And I always felt on the brink of losing my mind always wondering what would happen if I lost my job.
And forget about saving money. With my salary!? Nope. It was just not possible.
So I decided to go sans car for a while. And I knew what THAT meant.
I would have to ride the bus.
To ease my anxiety, I convinced myself that riding the bus would be a piece of cake and that it would allow me to save some money- say, $300ish in monthly car payments, plus $100ish for monthly insurance, plus $100ish for gas! (Wow! Now that I finally break it down like that -that’s reason enough to ride the bus anyway.)
When the time came, I enlisted my resourceful roommate to help me understand the most intricate parts of bus riding.
“It’s easy,” he smirked, while he punched in my work address on his phone. Then, he showed me the screen displaying the bus route I had to take the next morning.
It looked like a gerbils maze to me!
Laugh And Deal With It.
The first few days were a disaster. As expected from an Orange County spoiled and a clueless brat, I got lost on my very first day. When not a soul could help me out of my misery, I hailed Uber to work.
I felt like a total failure.
And my misery didn’t end there either.
On one occasion, there was a man sitting next to me intent on rubbing his elbow against my leg. That creep! I had to run to the back of the bus to escape his tentacles.
Then there was a woman riding with her son, who looked maybe about 10 or 12 years of age. Their conversation revolved around some man in their lives. His mom started to scold him and to call him names and told him to “shut up” for no obvious reason.
It was like a freak show.
But soon I learned to turn off most of these distractions in the same way that we turn off the radio when we don’t like the discussion on the show.
I kept to myself, mostly reading books on writing, entrepreneurship, persuasion, marketing, you name it. And it went on like that for an entire year.
During that time, I developed an interest in online marketing and advertising, and I quickly enrolled in an online digital marketing course and began blogging, networking, and collaborating with other marketers. Within a month of learning about Search Engine Optimization, I was able to put my website on the first page of Google. I was ecstatic. It was the vote of confidence I needed to know that I could do anything I put my mind to.
Success was at hand but only because I was willing to sacrifice short term rewards for my long term goals.
Life’s Greatest Lesson.
Riding the bus gave me quality personal time that I wouldn’t otherwise have at home. Let’s face it, there are a lot of distractions at home: kids, dogs, laundry, cooking, etc. And many of them, are hard to ignore.
Riding the bus felt like a sacred time that I looked forward to because it was my “me” time.
A strict bus schedule forced me to get up early and prioritize. Long gone were the days when I could sleep in and wait until the last minute to jump out of bed and start getting ready for work. Now I had to stick with a plan and head out the door at exactly the same time every day.
Eating out less and walking more helped me to lose 10 pounds of body weight. Not bad for an unexpected benefit.
But not all was candy & rainbows, going without a car made it very difficult to get other things done. For example, grocery shopping was a nuisance. If I decided to stop at the market, I had to carry heavy bags of groceries with me on the bus. Something I pretty much refused to do. Yes! I’m a suburbanite to the bone, so don’t blame me. To avoid this situation, I had to plan my grocery shopping well ahead of time, and plan what items to buy for the entire week.
Soon, I mostly shopped on the weekends when I could ask a family member to take me. And if I ever wanted something quick, I used Amazon, DoorDash, UberEats, and Postmates (these are food and grocery delivery companies in CA and the US).
In addition, being sans car made it difficult for me to get around town, and the simplest things became more difficult. But it was never anything good planning and preparation didn’t solve. Besides, there was always Uber or Lyft to come to the rescue.
Out of sheer necessity, I jumped into an exciting new adventure undaunted and determined to get ahead. And because of that, I’ve learned new skills and new habits that have helped me achieve my long term goals faster, and to gain a new perspective on life that I didn’t have before.
In addition, riding public transportation gave me the jolt I needed to start my own online business, to learn to prioritize, to take time to learn new ways of doing things and to save money.
Today, am wiser, smarter, thinner, stress-free (well, at least some), organized and on schedule to reach my savings goals well beyond what I’ve had imagined or planned so that soon I will also be able to afford a car cash upfront.
On second thought, why should I?
Have you had a similar experience with public transportation? Let’s hear your story.