In the middle of next week, I finish my secondment and return to work at East Coast Bays Library. One of the reasons I am looking forward to being back is its proximity to home, the commute being a mere hop, skip and a jump. OK, so I exaggerate! It is, to be entirely truthful, 5 minutes by car or 20 minutes by foot.
In the past I have mixed this journey up by driving some days and walking others. When using foot power, I would stick to the roads as it was slightly quicker than the alternative tracks. It was however noisier with cars scooting past, and included a blind corner which the pedestrian crossed at their peril.
When I walk, exercise is always the secondary consideration; this precious time is used for thinking. Indeed, many a domestic quandary or world dilemma has been sorted while I am strolling at a leisurely pace. Following the road with its accompanying distractions, therefore, is not ideal. The tracks along the clifftop with the breathtaking views and quietness is the way to go, and this is exactly what I plan to do next week. This will be much more more conducive to thinking, not to mention a good salve to stress.
The intention is that Shank’s pony will be my preferred way of travelling to work. This choice means my car will get little, if any use, during the working week. And the chances are high that if the existing weekend pattern continues, my car will remain parked in the garage Saturday and Sunday too.
The question that I have to resolve if this happens is: do I keep my bat mobile or do I sell it? Now I know there will be some days when the weather is not kind and walking will be off the agenda, but the man’s schedule is such that he can drop and pick me up from work in the family’s car (note the name change) without major disruption.
The big ‘but’ is there will be times when we both need access to the car at the same time. On most occasions, we can probably sort out a solution, but there will be times when there simply isn’t a workable one. One vehicle will then be limiting, even inconvenient. So is selling my car the right thing to do?
I should state here that my machine is not worth a lot: it is a fourteen year old Honda Civic in very tidy condition with 117,000 ks on the clock. A reliable machine, it has cost me little to run over the two or so years I have had it. If I sold it, I would get under $5,000 for it – so the sale price, if invested, would fall well short of giving me an income large enough to retire tomorrow.
The major plus in not keeping my car is a reduction in our outgoings with registration, maintenance and insurance costs for a single vehicle only. There would be a slight increase in running expenses for the one vehicle, as it would be used more, but my guess is that this would still be considerably cheaper than using the two cars.
Every living cost that we save makes reducing our working week to three days more achievable, of course. This is an attractive scenario. It also fits well with our commitment to downsizing too.
So is the second car history? Well, no. The fact is I don’t want to forgo the independence and convenience of having my own set of wheels to be able to achieve our goal of working less to live more. And I don’t have to. I can, in this case, afford to keep the car without saying adios to the desired work life balance.
For the man and me, slow living and downsizing has never been about making life difficult, it has always been about making it better. The hair shirt has no place here.