Author Topic: Mustachian tips for a large family -- bike options, cars...  (Read 4523 times)

dmobley

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Mustachian tips for a large family -- bike options, cars...
« on: March 14, 2012, 01:21:00 PM »
My wife and I are definitely moving in the direction of Mustachian -- we have one car, save a large fraction of our income, live 0.9 mi from work, etc. However, there's one area where we'd very much like to do better and we haven't quite figured out how. That's in the area of transportation.

Our basic problem (which is also our delight) is this: We have four kids five & under. We started off with a girl (now 5), then another girl (3) and then twins who just turned one. It's great fun, but it does create two transportation problems.

Prior to the twins, our sole car was a Honda Accord with rather good gas mileage. However, we couldn't figure out how to fit four kids in car seats in a practical way in anything other than a minivan, so we now drive a Honda Odyssey. Gas mileage is much worse than the Accord. Does anyone have ideas for a Mustachian car solution for a family of six with four kids in car seats? Or is an Odyssey the best we can do? (In reality, mostly it's five, as I'm working and my wife is running errands with the kids, though her actual mileage is really quite low).

A second issue is this: We'd really love to do more of our errands by bicycle. My wife used to do this when we had just one, and even when we had two. But, now we've got four, and she's the one who does most of the shopping and errands. Is there any practical, inexpensive way to transport four little ones (plus potential groceries) by bicycle (i.e. trailer or similar) or are we stuck with the car until the two older ones are big enough to be trusted on the roads on their own bicycles?

In every other area we've done a huge amount to cut costs, but I feel we spend way too much on gas and other car related expenses and I'd love to be able to cut this somehow, ideally by both bicycling more and getting a more fuel efficient car, but I haven't been able to figure out how.

velocistar237

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Re: Mustachian tips for a large family -- bike options, cars...
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2012, 01:40:17 PM »
Unless you plan on going car-free, I don't think you can improve your situation much. Smaller, six-seat options like the Mazda 5 and the Kia Rondo are aren't much better than the Honda Odyssey in terms of gas mileage. Maybe when the Odyssey dies, you can downgrade, but it probably doesn't make much sense before then.

As for biking, someone shared this link in another thread. You'd have to be pretty committed to go this route.
http://natureforkids.net/2008/07/15/biking-with-toddlers/

You could cut back on your errands in general, e.g., reduce the number of trips to the grocery store.

zoltani

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Re: Mustachian tips for a large family -- bike options, cars...
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2012, 03:55:04 PM »
A bakfiet


Looks like it will fit three comfortably in the front box, and you could add a trail-a-bike for the 5-year-old.  Though I wouldn't say this option is inexpensive really, but probably more inexpensive than driving over the long run.  Plus you can do some major grocery getting with a bike like this, and it will likely be useful even after the children are grown.

Ben

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Re: Mustachian tips for a large family -- bike options, cars...
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2012, 06:06:04 AM »
If you go the bakfiet route, please put helmets on your children... that picture stresses me out.

I think if you are rolling 4-deep with little ones, this is probably a season where you need the minivan and shouldn't feel guilty about having/using it. Like velocistar mentioned, you can plan your errands to more efficiently use your time and gas.

In a few years, your kids will be getting more mobile/independent and you can start supplementing with additional transportation options as the older ones become able to power themselves.

shedinator

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Re: Mustachian tips for a large family -- bike options, cars...
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2012, 09:45:33 AM »
Is there a legal reason your 5-year-old is still in the car seat? Most states either only require her to be in a booster, or don't require anything. I don't see your location in your profile, so you may already be aware of this and in a state that requires more, but just in case, check this site out: http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/childsafety_laws.html

If you can switch to a booster seat, it will cut down some on space required, and you might be able to switch to a crossover with moderately higher gas mileage. I've heard good things about the Mazda5 as a child-transporting vehicle. Not sure what kind of mileage you're getting on your Odyssey, but the Mazda5 averages about 20% better, and has an MSRP around $9,000 less, so you could probably trade down and come out on top.

zoltani

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Re: Mustachian tips for a large family -- bike options, cars...
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2012, 10:57:54 AM »
If you go the bakfiet route, please put helmets on your children... that picture stresses me out.

Yes, the netherlands...not such a nanny state there.

The kids with no helmets doesn't stress me out as much as watching mothers texting behind the wheel with their little ones in back.

ferfischer

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Re: Mustachian tips for a large family -- bike options, cars...
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2012, 11:27:33 AM »
I understand where you are at!  I have a 6yo, 4yo twins and a baby on the way shortly - so 4 kids 6 and under.  I had my 5yo in a carseat until he was 6 as well - he's small, but also safer to stay in a 5point harness as long as possible - just barely moved up to a Booster seat and our state requires one until 8 anyway.   We also have an Odyssey, and with 4 kids, I do believe it is one of the better options, and I'm glad we have it.  That said, we had to move to a full size van to accommodate a wheelchair and wheelchair lift for one of my twins, who is in a wheelchair 100% of the time - so I'm trying to adjust from 22mpg to 14mpg or less.   Honestly, I just stay home.  A LOT.  It's a lot of work to get everyone in and out of the car, so I minimize the trips.   Even better, we have a second car that is a Toyota Prius, and I use that for the majority of driving, when I have another adult at home to stay with 1 or 2 kids and then I take the others out for things.   That means I do a lot in the morning and in the evenings, and I reduce or eliminate the trips with all the kids other than to and from school in the big car.  Everything we need is 2 miles or less from our house (with rare exceptions), and so we can also walk, but again, the wheelchair complicates things, even for walking, and forget about biking.  Even with our new ginormous gas guzzling van, our costs haven't increased much, if at all, because we just limit the driving in general and spend a lot of time at home.  Not ideal, but we have a lot of other factors that also figure in to staying near home as well - a blessing in disguise I guess.

gwdonnelly

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Re: Mustachian tips for a large family -- bike options, cars...
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2012, 09:48:00 PM »
If you go the bakfiet route, please put helmets on your children... that picture stresses me out.

Yes, the netherlands...not such a nanny state there.

The kids with no helmets doesn't stress me out as much as watching mothers texting behind the wheel with their little ones in back.

Agreed! Bakfiets are not the most fleet of vehicles - the kids could do more damage running on the sidewalk!

This is my setup for dropping the 4yo at daycare:


You could also add a rear bike seat for the 4th kid, but it might be a bit unwieldy. Another alternative would be a tag-along between the trailer and bike, but again, getting a bit unwieldy! Surely the 5yo will be able to ride their own bike soon though?