Not sure about all of you, but I have become infatuated with Zero Dollar Days. This is where I try to make a point of spending no money on workdays. As we’re talking about 5 out of every 7 days in a week, over time, the effects of this can really snowball. Personally, this is what the majority of my work day looks like:
- Bike to work (Roughly 5km);
- I bring two thermos’ of black coffee (I’d pump it into my veins if I could. I like to enjoy one in the morning and afternoon);
- Bring all my food – that includes usually a couple snacks and my lunch;
- Bike home (Another 5km);
I love getting home in the late afternoon knowing that I have not only spent zero dollars above and beyond basic cost of living (Think rent/mortgage & basic utilities) but I’ve reduced my carbon footprint and gotten my cardio in for the day.
In the frigid Winters up North, I usually walk to work. Takes a bit longer but if you’re dressed appropriately for the Canadian cold, you’ll be alright! I’ll say that I can take a shortcut to work which I do in the Winter. That cuts one-way distance down to about 2.5km.
I am toying with the idea of starting up Winter biking next year as I hear, and even see in Ottawa, others doing it.
As I had mentioned in my “About Me” section, I only discovered living economically lean about a year and a half ago. Before this, I still walked to work as I enjoyed the exercise and consciously lowering my impact on the planet. But I was generally buying a couple coffees a day and lunch. All-in-all I was probably spending about $15 a day, 5 days a week.
As an Actuary, I had to run the numbers of this silly self-inflicted predicament if I wanted to retire in about 15 years. $15 x 235 working days a year* = $3,525 a year.
Now if I make my own coffee at home and bring my own food, I probably cut my daily cost down to roughly $7 a day, saving $8 a day. This translates to annual savings of $1,880 a year.
Investing those savings at 7% net of inflation, that is an extra $47,243 in 15 years when I want to retire!
*Roughly 235 working days in a year after statutory holidays and 3 weeks vacation I receive.
I know not everyone is currently living that close to work. Biking to work may be a challenge in your current situation. But maybe if you’re driving and paying for parking, try your local public transit as that’s a huge improvement! Bringing food & beverage to work is also a winning strategy for your wallet and your gut (Home cooked meals are usually healthier…but I’ll say it depends on what you’re cooking with).
Try out your own Zero Dollar Day challenge and see how you feel! The long term rewards are too sweet not to consider!