Author Topic: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!  (Read 9677 times)

destron

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Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« on: February 27, 2013, 11:02:45 PM »
This thread on reddit exemplifies my frustration with the /r/frugal sub. It is full of complanypants wussies. I don't disagree that getting rid of your car is not the solution for everyone, but the attitude is that the idea of not driving everywhere isn't even a possibility.

http://www.reddit.com/r/Frugal/comments/19d5kv/can_we_please_stop_saying_get_rid_of_your_car_as/

I don't know why I keep reading this.

GuitarStv

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2013, 06:40:27 AM »
I've mentioned the idea of simply biking to your grocery store every once in a while and been laughed out of conversations.  When I point out that I have only used the car to go to Costco or the grocery store twice in the past six months I'm told that I'm an abnormal freak.  :/

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2013, 06:55:08 AM »
The line about a good used car going for $2500, but needing to get that financed, because not everyone had that much money around, is painful.  It becomes so obvious that none of those people understand what is going on, at all!

projekt

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2013, 08:40:25 AM »
Well, you are abnormal, quite rare, even freakish, with regards to how much you are saving compared to the rest of the population. On the other hand, you will soon be a financially independent freak.

sheepstache

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2013, 09:29:29 AM »
What I like about MMM's discussion of cars is that he facepunches home the point that you decide where you live.  You therefore can not counter the 'you don't need a car' argument by pointing out that you live in an area where you need a car.  Well fuckin' move then!  Like, what, are you an indentured servant tied to the land or something?  Were you assigned to some collectivized farm by a soviet government?

Reminds me of the tongue-in-cheek joke by Sam Kinnison about sending foreign aid to people who live in the desert.  'Like, are we surprised that they keep needing foreign aid?  They live in the fuckin' desert!  Instead of sending them aid year after year, why don't we just spend the money to move them here??  I mean, we have deserts in America, we just don't fuckin' live in them!'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0q4o58pKwA

Ahem.  My point being that the no-car thing is part of a bigger context that people often don't want to see so they insist on taking it out of context and laughing at how ridiculous it is.  I had this whole conversation with the spouse about how you could decide to walk to work.
S: But let's say you work at a big chemical plant.  The plant takes up so much room that there's no room for residences within miles.
Me: Then you can choose not work at one of the big plants.
S: But if you have a degree in chemistry, that's going to be where the highest-paying jobs are.
Me: But you aren't forced to take the highest-paying job.  That's not, like, a rule that you have to take the highest-paying job you can get.
S:...
Me: And you don't have to get a degree in chemistry.
S:... okay, true.
So it's just funny that even with amenable, reasonable people, you have to remind them that we are in control of our lives and are rarely trapped.  (I mean, I'm not talking about deeper stuff about how culture or the state or prejudices and all these larger forces shape our perception of reality--I'll leave that to Foucault.)  But you all get that.

The OP in this particular reddit thread, though, and a couple contributors, seem to be touching on the stress of not having a car because you can't afford one.  Which I think we've had some interesting discussions here before about the difference between choosing not to have a thing and feeling deprived of a thing.

BlueMR2

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 09:45:45 AM »
I've had people stop in the middle of a busy road (as I'm walking down the sidewalk to do some errand) just to ask me if I'm OK and where my car broke down.  Uh, nothing's wrong and my car's in the garage where I left it today...  The stunned disbelief on their faces is priceless.  :-)

destron

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 10:12:04 AM »
I've mentioned the idea of simply biking to your grocery store every once in a while and been laughed out of conversations.  When I point out that I have only used the car to go to Costco or the grocery store twice in the past six months I'm told that I'm an abnormal freak.  :/

What is sad is that this is a group of people who are trying not to be wasteful with their spending, but they feel the same way. The car issue transcends logic.

destron

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2013, 10:14:59 AM »
My point being that the no-car thing is part of a bigger context that people often don't want to see so they insist on taking it out of context and laughing at how ridiculous it is.

This is the heart of the issue in my opinion. It seems that there are two groups. In one, they are trapped in the way of thinking that it is only possible to change one thing about their lives to spend less money; sweeping changes are not a possibility. In the other, they simply don't want to be inconvenienced. Both groups reserve the right to complain about how hard it is to make ends meet these days.

Jamesqf

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2013, 10:59:25 AM »
What I like about MMM's discussion of cars is that he facepunches home the point that you decide where you live.  You therefore can not counter the 'you don't need a car' argument by pointing out that you live in an area where you need a car.  Well fuckin' move then!  Like, what, are you an indentured servant tied to the land or something?

Why, yes, I am tied to the land by choice.  Though I'm closer to being the feudal lord than the indentured servant :-)

But this is what I dislike about some of MMM's "you don't need a car" arguments.  Sure, I could live in a tiny city apartment and never go anywhere I couldn't walk or bike, and I'd even save money that way.  But what's the use of a bit more money if you need to live in miserable conditions to get it?

Quote
I mean, we have deserts in America, we just don't fuckin' live in them!'

Speak for yourself!  I do - though technically it's an oasis at the edge of the desert.

sheepstache

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2013, 11:32:55 AM »
Quote from: Jamesqf link=topic=4047.msg61048#msg61048 date=1362074365

Why, yes, I am tied to the land [u
by choice[/u].  Though I'm closer to being the feudal lord than the indentured servant :-)

But this is what I dislike about some of MMM's "you don't need a car" arguments.  Sure, I could live in a tiny city apartment and never go anywhere I couldn't walk or bike, and I'd even save money that way.  But what's the use of a bit more money if you need to live in miserable conditions to get it?

But I think that's fine because you're owning the decision.  The opposite would be someone saying, "But I can't move out of the city, because I would have to have a car to get around with!"  Everybody would readily be like, well, get a freakin' car then.

Actually I have sort of been that person.  When the spouse brings up moving to the suburbs I'll jokingly go hysterical and be like, "Are you crazy??  I can't learn how to drive!!  Me in charge of a two-ton hunk of speeding metal, can you imagine??  And there's this whole super complex license and insurance process you have to go through, it's not like you can just get a car and start driving.  Normal people don't have the time or money for all that!  And then you have to go through all the work of figuring out directions on your own rather than just having the MTA do it for you.  And once you have kids, it's not like you can just bring them along with you like you do here, you have to buy special seats for them.  And you have to know specialists who can fix the engines if something goes wrong.  It's like you'd have to restructure your whole life around driving a car.  Cars are fine for single, carefree people with plenty of time on their hands or speedfreaks obsessed with going over 20 mph, but not for the rest of us."  If car drivers were the minority, I suspect we'd see that argument in earnest.

mpbaker22

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2013, 01:25:59 PM »
What I like about MMM's discussion of cars is that he facepunches home the point that you decide where you live.  You therefore can not counter the 'you don't need a car' argument by pointing out that you live in an area where you need a car.  Well fuckin' move then!  Like, what, are you an indentured servant tied to the land or something?  Were you assigned to some collectivized farm by a soviet government?

Reminds me of the tongue-in-cheek joke by Sam Kinnison about sending foreign aid to people who live in the desert.  'Like, are we surprised that they keep needing foreign aid?  They live in the fuckin' desert!  Instead of sending them aid year after year, why don't we just spend the money to move them here??  I mean, we have deserts in America, we just don't fuckin' live in them!'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0q4o58pKwA

Ahem.  My point being that the no-car thing is part of a bigger context that people often don't want to see so they insist on taking it out of context and laughing at how ridiculous it is.  I had this whole conversation with the spouse about how you could decide to walk to work.
S: But let's say you work at a big chemical plant.  The plant takes up so much room that there's no room for residences within miles.
Me: Then you can choose not work at one of the big plants.
S: But if you have a degree in chemistry, that's going to be where the highest-paying jobs are.
Me: But you aren't forced to take the highest-paying job.  That's not, like, a rule that you have to take the highest-paying job you can get.
S:...
Me: And you don't have to get a degree in chemistry.
S:... okay, true.
So it's just funny that even with amenable, reasonable people, you have to remind them that we are in control of our lives and are rarely trapped.  (I mean, I'm not talking about deeper stuff about how culture or the state or prejudices and all these larger forces shape our perception of reality--I'll leave that to Foucault.)  But you all get that.

The OP in this particular reddit thread, though, and a couple contributors, seem to be touching on the stress of not having a car because you can't afford one.  Which I think we've had some interesting discussions here before about the difference between choosing not to have a thing and feeling deprived of a thing.

I work in a cubicle above a manufacturing facility nestled between 4 interstates and an airport.  There is housing ~3-4 miles away, but it's somewhat ghetto and I don't know anyone in that area.  I consciously make the decision to spend ~$3,000 a year on my car.  That's the key.  Even with the insane driving (~15K/year), I'm still saving 50% (or more), and I do it knowing the full realm of alternatives.

Jamesqf

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2013, 05:47:37 PM »
But I think that's fine because you're owning the decision.  The opposite would be someone saying, "But I can't move out of the city, because I would have to have a car to get around with!"  Everybody would readily be like, well, get a freakin' car then.

True, and I've gotten along quite well without a car when I lived in Europe - though I always knew that the stay was going to be for a fairly fixed period, then I'd be able to go back to my feudal estate :-)

BuildingFrugalHabits

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2013, 06:49:13 PM »

I work in a cubicle above a manufacturing facility nestled between 4 interstates and an airport.  There is housing ~3-4 miles away, but it's somewhat ghetto and I don't know anyone in that area. 


Sounds like Newark...

nolajo

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2013, 07:47:40 PM »
But I think that's fine because you're owning the decision.  The opposite would be someone saying, "But I can't move out of the city, because I would have to have a car to get around with!"  Everybody would readily be like, well, get a freakin' car then.

Actually I have sort of been that person.  When the spouse brings up moving to the suburbs I'll jokingly go hysterical and be like, "Are you crazy??  I can't learn how to drive!!  Me in charge of a two-ton hunk of speeding metal, can you imagine??  And there's this whole super complex license and insurance process you have to go through, it's not like you can just get a car and start driving.  Normal people don't have the time or money for all that!  And then you have to go through all the work of figuring out directions on your own rather than just having the MTA do it for you.  And once you have kids, it's not like you can just bring them along with you like you do here, you have to buy special seats for them.  And you have to know specialists who can fix the engines if something goes wrong.  It's like you'd have to restructure your whole life around driving a car.  Cars are fine for single, carefree people with plenty of time on their hands or speedfreaks obsessed with going over 20 mph, but not for the rest of us."  If car drivers were the minority, I suspect we'd see that argument in earnest.

<3 this. I do have a car and drive with some frequency, but the idea of commuting every day by car makes my skin crawl. I get so frustrated dealing with traffic that I know I'd take years off my life just in increased blood pressure.

the fixer

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2013, 08:34:43 PM »
I must sheepishly admit that I started a job last year that's about 23 miles from where I live :(

But...
  • I've NEVER liked a job more than I like this one
  • I live with my girlfriend and she commutes by transit; there really isn't any better place for the two of us to live, and she wouldn't be able to find a job near mine
  • There's no transit options to get to my job
  • I've tried looking for carpools but they didn't pan out
  • I get to work from home one day per week
You could say I've owned the decision. I got a more efficient commuter car just before I started (2005 Scion xA). I've done a bit of aero mods, pulse & glide, and coast with the engine off (via a kill switch I installed); there's a fair number of lights along the way but my record tank so far was 51 MPG.

Hypermiling has actually improved the commute for me. I see it as a challenge to use as little gas as possible to get to and from work, so it's like I'm playing a video game or something. I also get plenty of entertainment watching antimustachian drivers with impractical vehicles or speeding toward red lights and such.

frugalcalan

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2013, 08:22:38 AM »
I've mentioned the idea of simply biking to your grocery store every once in a while and been laughed out of conversations.  When I point out that I have only used the car to go to Costco or the grocery store twice in the past six months I'm told that I'm an abnormal freak.  :/

What is sad is that this is a group of people who are trying not to be wasteful with their spending, but they feel the same way. The car issue transcends logic.

Yes and no.  I've been a redditor for 5 years, and /r/frugal is... something.  I'm not even certain that they are trying to not be wasteful in their spending.  They just like to complain about how society is keeping them poor.

destron

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2013, 01:36:20 PM »
I've mentioned the idea of simply biking to your grocery store every once in a while and been laughed out of conversations.  When I point out that I have only used the car to go to Costco or the grocery store twice in the past six months I'm told that I'm an abnormal freak.  :/

What is sad is that this is a group of people who are trying not to be wasteful with their spending, but they feel the same way. The car issue transcends logic.

Yes and no.  I've been a redditor for 5 years, and /r/frugal is... something.  I'm not even certain that they are trying to not be wasteful in their spending.  They just like to complain about how society is keeping them poor.

I think you are right. I just decided to unsubscribe from that pity-party.

dragoncar

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2013, 03:16:16 PM »
Yes and no.  I've been a redditor for 5 years, and /r/frugal is... something.  I'm not even certain that they are trying to not be wasteful in their spending.  They just like to complain about how society is keeping them poor.

I heard someone say that /r/frugal has become /r/poor

frugalcalan

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2013, 03:54:13 PM »
I heard someone say that /r/frugal has become /r/poor

Heh!  Accurate.  /r/PersonalFinance and /r/FinancialIndependence  aren't too bad, I will note.  Perhaps there's others that are nice?

AccidentalMiser

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2013, 04:14:50 PM »
I'm going to chime in because they were foolish enough to allow me through the door.

My wife and I both work in the nuclear industry.  I work in the lovely ivory tower and she at one of the sites.  The unfortunate thing is that these two workplaces are about 65 miles apart.  We live in between, roughly splitting the difference.

Between us, we make a heck of a lot of money and save WAY over half of it.  Because of this particular situation, we will be able to say "This episode of Sesame Street was brought to you by the letter F and the letter U.  WE QUIT"  in about five years.  That sounds pretty good to both of us.

She could quit and we could move close to my job.  Or I could quit and we could move close to hers.  Unfortunately, that would add approximately MANY years onto the back end of our plan.

So, I will drive my car and she will drive hers.  They both have over 100k miles on them and should last us until we get to FI.  At that point, we will move to five acres in the country, sell both cars and buy something small to drive to costco every two months.

So, no, I won't be giving up my car.  My mustachinaism depends on it!!

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #20 on: March 02, 2013, 09:13:39 AM »
But you own your decision, and have run the numbers, you aren't whining about how you need your car, all the while, racking debt to pay for it.

My take on mustachism is that you make financial decisions, knowing and investigating the full financial implications.  There are many of us, who do that.

destron

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #21 on: March 02, 2013, 12:41:19 PM »
So, no, I won't be giving up my car.  My mustachinaism depends on it!!

I have a car as well and your use case sounds rational to me. Most importantly, you are not on the Internet complaining about how broke you are while holding a large car payment and driving 20,000 miles a year. I was taking issue at people who are broke, spend a lot of money they don't have on cars, and then don't want to hear that their car is one of the primary reasons they are broke. Really, that whole reddit sub has been getting on my nerves the last 6 months so I decided to cut the cord. It has nothing to do with being frugal. They should rename it /r/poorpeoplefishingforsympathy, /r/notspendingmoneyistoohard, or /r/unethicalthingsyoucandotosavemoney.

gmaxwell

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #22 on: March 02, 2013, 06:31:55 PM »
Heh!  Accurate.  /r/PersonalFinance and /r/FinancialIndependence  aren't too bad, I will note.
r/FinancialIndependence does the same stuff.

Skyn_Flynt

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Re: Please stop saying "get rid of your car"!
« Reply #23 on: March 02, 2013, 07:51:23 PM »
There is another forum I participate on that has had some brawling threads about reducing car use.

I've tried to point out that a healthy person can easily walk four miles to an errand point, and then back again. Even a bicycle isn't necessary. I live in "sprawling, auto-centric" suburbia, but I do this at least once a week, and more often, when the weather is nice. It feels *good* to walk. A bag of groceries is not *that* heavy!

But people view this is "too extreme" to contemplate.