Why I’m over 50 and have never got a driving licence nor owned a car

In 1986, I first heard about greenhouse gases, the hole in the ozone layer, the loss of native habitat and species, etc.

My father and I were sitting at the kitchen table and ABC Radio was on. I was home for the holidays from university and doing some drawing.

David Suzuki was talking about the tonnes of glass and plastic bottles going into landfill.

My father sat there, elbows on the table, with his hands over his eyes and face.

I’d never seen him do anything like that. It brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat every time I remember that day in 1986.

We first started recycling (which was newspaper) in 1988 in Melbourne. Our first kerbside recycling bins appeared in 1989.

I have never gone for my drivers licence since hearing David Suzuki.

I’ve been using public transport and walking when I need to go somewhere on my own.

I was pushed to try to learn to drive when living on the farm again for a short while, and reluctantly attempted it. Driving is hard. I managed to crush the passenger side door by not gauging the width of a farm gate correctly. Accidents happen so easily. Cars are dangerous. Would you crowd-fund a car if it were invented now?

A car is a luxury enclosed racing wheelchair for rich people – Mr Money Mustache.

 

Dad was 19 years older than Mum, and he died in 1997.

He never lived to see the big changes.

Change began in small increments.  But change is exponential.

It’s taken so long to transition to what we’re doing to try to stop burning the planet now.

Extinction Rebellion are making people talk, think, and act.

As Greta Thunberg said in New York, “Once we start to act, hope is everywhere”.

Saving the world saves you money

How do you prioritise your spending? I’ve been discovering the FIRE community – Financial Independence / Retire Early. It’s a cool thing that also ties in with Finance, Environmentalism, Self-Care, Minimalism, even Frugality, and the best bit is overall personal and global health.

I posted on a frugality blog today and thought I’d use some of that to make a post of my own about things I’ve been doing because I wanted to, not as some sort of punishment or penitence.

This stuff is the stuff that gives and keeps on giving.

I gave up makeup, haircuts, and hair dye about 20 years ago when my son was young.
My “man-bun” is now finally the done thing. I’ve always just kept it long/longish so I can chop the ends off and tie it up.

I gave up shampoo and conditioner in bottles, and switching brands all the time. Now my hair doesn’t get dandruff (I worked out that changing brands is what made it itchy/flaky/scabby etc). I also worked out that the thing in them that keeps your hair soft and unfrizzy is the nut/plant oils, so I use macadamia oil when I need to.
I’ve been using a shampoo soap bar (paper packaging) by Ethique NZ, and only need to wash when I get really sweaty after a long run, about every week. The shampoo soap bar lasted months, still got months left, and cost about AUD$30.
I don’t bother ironing, or rather, many years ago, I stopped buying clothes that need ironing.

I gave up alcohol by starting the Feb Fast challenge two years ago. Oh, the benefits!! Don’t get me started on how great it’s been. A REAL treat for myself, unlike the contradictory justifications for drinking. The money I saved let me pay off our mortgage early so now we can redraw if we want a low-interest loan.

I never started driving, ie never got a drivers’ licence. So I’ve never needed to buy a car.

I did go through a sedentary job/depressed/drinking phase where I used a lot more taxis and did barely any walking, but that’s over. I didn’t want to cheat myself out of exercising.

Some of these things might sound tiring, but I was tired because I was worried I wasn’t doing them.

The urges took over to want to start walking more and more, then running and making friends at parkrun, and becoming happier and more confident, and balancing out my spending and overconsumption. I met friends who taught me about local sustainability initiatives and groups.

I’m now in my mid-fifties, and am a huge advocate of Public Transport, since it’s got me so far without ever getting a licence.

I brought my lunch to work for the past 4 and a half years. That helped me lose 35 kg in weight AND save a lot of money. I put that money away each week to save up for running shoes and events.

I meal-prep once a week. That makes it far less likely to do an overspend after work when “hangry“.

I did No-Spend November in 2018.

I thought it would be really difficult, but it made me want to try and be even more prudent.

Instead of a gut-reaction to buy, buy, buy, my brain wanted to think, and think some more about if/why/when I needed things.

Of course, the massive cultural delusion of Christmas then stepped in, then the New Year penury. Gradually, though, I’ve been saving more and spending less.

I did the 3-month Slow Fashion Challenge from June-August 2019 where I stopped buying clothes and started thinking.

For several years now, I’d almost given up buying flowering plants for the garden. I let the garden die off till only the tough things survived. Now I’m putting in food plants and planning a greywater watering system for a vegetable garden.

I joined an Unpackaged bulk-food group for locals, where we order in bulk online once a month, and split bulk orders of different and interesting food items. That’s saved money, and removed a lot of temptations and decisions at the supermarket, and helped with meal planning, because of having interesting, new, and nutritious things to try that more thought has been put into.

These things feed each other with self-moderation or regulation, and a sense of having enough.

I still feel the fast-paced frenzy of wanting to purchase things online, although now it’s mostly signing up to newsletters or alerts about software, financial apps, and courses to study to learn All The Things. 🙂

It’s still a battle to keep those email subscriptions and payment subscriptions under control.

I’m learning to unsubscribe when I feel annoyed or pressured. I’m getting better at knowing to sign up for more info when I see things on offer, and so I’m reminded to think it through some more. When I get an email I can then either schedule it in, pay for it at a big discount, or decide what I want my memory and/or reminder technology to do with it.

Now I’m looking for either a new job and/or increasing my (passive) income, so frugality has become even more important for minimising worry.

How do you prioritise your spending?