The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

The Ultimate Cheapskate

When I reviewed The Four Hour Workweek recently, altrdego from Livejournal suggested that I check out The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches.  Like the real cheapskate I am, I promptly requested the book through interlibrary loan, took it home, and was thrilled to learn that on a consumerist scale of 1-25, I score a 2.  (I lost points for tearing up during a Hallmark commercial a few years ago, and for remembering a billboard --- bad me!)

The Ultimate Cheapskate is far more closely aligned with my ethics --- unsurprising since the author comes from the nonprofit sector and obviously shares my uneasiness with our capitalist society.   While the underlying theme in The Four Hour Workweek was how to use the system and get ahead, the theme of The Ultimate Cheapskate is how to live better on less.  That's my kind of book.

I'm a pretty major cheapskate already, so most of the book was a quick and easy read with entertainment value but not too much new information.  The transportation chapter, though, caught my eye.  The author makes the argument that a bicycle literally gets you to your location faster than a car in most cases if you factor in the time you work to pay for the car, gas, insurance, etc. 

With this revelation in mind, I sat down with Gnucash (freeware finances program) and figured that we spend 19% of our yearly expenses on our cars!  Would I rather be sitting at my computer for hours writing a grant proposal so that I can drive into town in fifteen minutes, or would it better to make a fun day of it and bicycle into town and not have to sit in front of the computer at all?  Sure, as rural residents with no access to public transportation, we do need a car...but do we really  need two?

Unfortunately, I don't think Mark and I are quite ready to discard either vehicle yet.   Still, I think I'll pump up the tires on our bikes and see if I can include more biking in our daily life, try out the week-long fiscal fast recommended in the book, and continue in my quest to become more of a cheapskate every day.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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