Monday, December 31, 2018

Jingle in my pocket!

I probably pay more attention to the morning weather report than lots of people do... during the winter months, my safety can be impacted by the weather in a significant way.

Take this morning, for example.  They were saying there was an overnight dusting of snow.  The temperature was in the mid-20s.  And... I remember arriving home last night on a damp roadway.  All of that could add up to treacherously slippery conditions.

As a result - I put bus fare in my pocket as I was making my preparations.  On a dangerous day, I'll often bite the bullet and limp to the bus stop, rather than riding all the way to the office.  But... as I pulled out of the driveway the roads didn't seem dangerously slippery, so I decided to take my chances.  I rode slowly and deliberately... all the way to the office, without mishap.  And the bus fare is still pocketed.  I can use that money for something else... or possibly the next early-morning bus fare.

This is a lesson I learned at an early age.  When I was in fifth grade, Mom would give me lunch money... I believe it was 35 cents back then.  BUT - I signed up to be a lunchroom helper.  Instead of heading for the playground for 15 minutes, I would stay after lunch and make sure the trash was properly deposited and wipe down the tables with warm, soapy water.  For services rendered, I got a free lunch.  The 35 cents stayed in my pocket - at least until after school where it often got surrendered at the Roosevelt Market candy counter.

What if every commuter put his/her commute money in pocket or purse in the morning, and could keep that money pocketed by choosing an alternative form of transportation?  Would such an immediate and obvious reward result in changed behavior?

For most people, their transportation expense - in the form of owning, operating and maintaining that single-occupant motorized vehicle - isn't so obvious.  Instead of making a $15 car payment every day, you pay the entire amount once a month.  Instead of that $1 or $2 insurance expense, you pay every six months.  Gas?  Fill 'er up - every week or two.  Registration?  Just once a year... it's easy to lose track of that transportation expense.  It's all very incremental, and makes it easy to overlook the fact that maybe 20 or 25 percent of your income is going to getting you to your job.

On the other hand... the thousands and thousands of dollars I've saved by riding a bike for 33 years have been absorbed by the family budget mostly, over those years.  But if I'd saved them out in a special account, it would've have accumulated quite a healthy sum.

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