Author Topic: Need help making a decision  (Read 4276 times)

face-punched

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Need help making a decision
« on: February 17, 2014, 01:56:42 PM »
Hi there everyone!

I just discovered the blog last week and have already made some great changes get things turned in the right direction, but I am having trouble deciding on whether or not to buy bikes for my wife and I. We could go almost everywhere we need to by bike (almost nothing we need is more than five miles away and we have decent bike-friendly roads), but we have a little bit of debt. We currently spend ~150-160/mo on gas, and we would prefer to start biking for the health and money benefits. We have some credit card debt ~2500 (roughly half of that at 0% interest) and are getting a $1100 windfall this month. We are deciding on whether we should use the money to buy bikes and get saving, or pay it all down on the credit cards? Thanks in advance for the help!

Edit: One of the reasons I am not sure is that I will be shipping out in the Navy in June, and I am not sure what our living arrangements regarding bike commute-ability will be while I am in the Navy.

Edit #2: Thank you for all of the advice! We have decided to take the plunge and are buying bikes this evening. We found a local bike shop willing to sell us some really nice Giant commuters for just under 400 each. Since they will pay for themselves before I leave we are gonna go ahead and invest in a bike we will be happy to keep and use long term. Thanks again everyone!

« Last Edit: February 18, 2014, 02:03:10 PM by face-punched »

Frankies Girl

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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2014, 02:01:02 PM »
Do you have more than one vehicle? Then you could sell the least efficient, dropping the associated insurance costs and use the money from that and the windfall to get bikes (don't forget to check craigslist for cheaper options than buying new) AND pay down the debt.


warfreak2

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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2014, 02:02:53 PM »
Even if you put the bikes on a 30-40% APR credit card, it would still be a good decision. Even if you get two super-expensive $1000-each bikes and only save $1000 per year on fuel, that's still a 50% ROI after one year, and it keeps paying the same dividends every year after that! It's absolutely a no-brainer to get bikes as early as possible. If you get second-hand bikes, you could recoup your investment in a month or two.

face-punched

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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2014, 02:04:41 PM »
We only have one vehicle, but it IS a guzzler. (2003 Trailblazer) I looked around on craigslist in our area, and it looks like we would be better off buying new since we would only save about 50 dollars each and then do a tune-up for somewhere around 55 each. If we buy new at our local shop we get a year of unlimited tune-ups no charge!

phred

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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2014, 02:08:18 PM »
Have wife try biking with a borrowed or rented bike first.  Many women will not bike because it causes them severe pain in the general crotch area - even with special grooved woman's bike seat.  Trial rides need to be three + miles to determine this.

Consider used bikes for the both of you.  If you end up liking to do this, you can grow into quality.  New or used, don't get a bigbox bike - the quality is not there, the ride is crappy.  A bike shop may have decent  quality used bikes for sale (& rentals).  So may Craigslist or even Freecycle

phred

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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2014, 02:10:32 PM »
I'm really curious as to what your bike shop is going to do for a tune-up?

face-punched

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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2014, 02:13:07 PM »
I'm really curious as to what your bike shop is going to do for a tune-up?

Keep the chain lubricated, check all spokes, adjust anything that needs adjusting (derailer, handlebars, seat, clean and check brake lines, etc). Basic stuff I guess, but they seem like a really nice shop that takes care of their people.

phred

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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2014, 02:16:00 PM »
I guess even bike shops need to make payments on their yachts

warfreak2

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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2014, 02:21:39 PM »
You could pay them even $200/year to maintain your bikes and they would still be the best investment you ever made. Big things first. Later on you will be happy when you find out you can do all of that maintenance yourself for almost no cost - but right now, be happy you can avoid $150-160 monthly on gas.

mollyjade

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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2014, 03:31:48 PM »
We only have one vehicle, but it IS a guzzler. (2003 Trailblazer) I looked around on craigslist in our area, and it looks like we would be better off buying new since we would only save about 50 dollars each and then do a tune-up for somewhere around 55 each. If we buy new at our local shop we get a year of unlimited tune-ups no charge!
I agree with buying a bike no matter how you do it, but there are free bike maintenance classes in Austin at least weekly. Check the Chronicle or some of the local biking groups. Even if you take advantage of the free tune-ups, you'll feel a lot more confident knowing more about the mechanics of your bike.

Weedy Acres

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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2014, 05:12:38 PM »
What do you mean you can't buy used for less than new in Austin? 

-->face punch!

You don't need a $1000 bike if you're just getting started and still in debt. Adjust your mindset.  Try one of these:
http://austin.craigslist.org/bik/4316374369.html
http://austin.craigslist.org/bik/4337602154.html
http://austin.craigslist.org/bik/4301050003.html
http://austin.craigslist.org/bik/4337420572.html
http://austin.craigslist.org/bik/4296013766.html
http://austin.craigslist.org/bik/4336876910.html
http://austin.craigslist.org/bik/4331469157.html

And those are just stuff listed today for under $150.  Upgrade when you're out of debt and know you're bikers for the long haul.

read books

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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2014, 06:10:36 PM »
I get where the "start cheap" people are coming from, but it's also true that you might decide you're not a biker at all if you get a bike that doesn't fit. I'm not much of a biker (and don't bother face punching me as not biking is a luxury I pay for knowing,y and willingly). However, I used to have a really uncomfortable bike and couldn't stand it at all. Trying a more comfortable bike that fit me made a big difference. You can probably get what you want used but it may not turn up immediately. Just my two cents. If you love biking or are determined to deal with it, a bike that doesn't really fit might not be enough to rough you off track. Good luck!

darkadams00

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Re: Need help making a decision
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2014, 07:51:39 PM »
In the last 16 months I bought used bikes off Craigslist for the entire family (3 bikes) and averaged about $400 each for solid do-anything-that-I-need-them-to-do bikes that saw 2400, 1100, and 90 miles of travel last year with no mechanical issues (the 90-miler was bought in November). These bikes will last for years to come with normal maintenance and repairs that I learned to do off youtube and bikeforums.com. That is about the same price as $1300 transmission job on my car during the same period. Note that if you plan to use the bikes for commuting (dark mornings and/or evenings) or to haul things (groceries, typical errands), you will also need items like lights and <<insert desired rack/pannier/backpack/trailer gear here>>. You might also need additional clothing if you plan to start riding while it's still cool in the mornings/evenings. Depending on your actual use and handiness or lack thereof, you can almost spend the purchase price of a bike cost just outfitting your two bikes to do these tasks, so keep that in mind.

Regarding new or used--some folks are voracious readers and love to consume the details about every task they attempt (like me). Those folks can do a pretty good job at nailing a good purchase the first time, new or used. Others prefer to learn by talking or working with other folks. Buying new through a bike shop or used via a community workshop offers valuable knowledge and experience provided you're not just talking to a clueless teenager. Only you know which camp fits your learning style--and it is true that bike fit is important for consistent riding.

In spite of how much biking has helped me financially and physically, your situation is slightly different. (1) You only spend $150-160/month driving a guzzler which means that you're not driving many miles/month, and your savings/month will be much lower than mine were. (2) You're deploying in June, so you could spend a bit of your cash on bikes only to have them sit for months, especially if your SO doesn't ride as much when you're not around, or your next location is less convenient for bike commuting/errands than you prefer.  (3) You and/or your wife might find that you don't like to ride before temps are at the shirt-sleeves and shorts temps, which would also mean little riding for the next couple of months leading up to your deployment.

So this is really a gut check on you and your wife's goals rather than on the finances of the matter. If it were me, I would buy the bikes and ride the wheels off until June and see how the deployment plays out (whether I liked it or not---I bought them, so I'm riding them!), or I would throw the money at the debts and keep a mustachian eye on my other finances. You can always revisit this option later this year when you know more about your deployment (and your debts will be completely gone by then, I'm sure).