There are many kinds of transportation you can take advantage of,
depending on your particular situation.
In the Housing section, we talked about different options for getting a suitable roof over your head. In this section, we’ll discuss a number of different ways for you to get from one place to another, for work or other purposes. These include:
It’s pretty ironic to see somebody get in his Mercedes or Lexus, drive a mile or two to the local health club, and then pay a big fee to spend the next hour or so on a treadmill.
For a much lower price--namely, zero--we can get the same amount of healthy exercise by simply walking forward on God’s good earth. As an added benefit, we end up somewhere we wanted to be, rather than the exact place we started!
If your job site, the grocery store, or other places you regularly need to get to are within a reasonable distance from where you live, you can save a lot of money and also get real health benefits by making walking your primary means of transportation.
For walking in sunny weather, we strongly recommend wearing a broad-brimmed hat and also putting on sunscreen. Comfortable, general-purpose shoes are also important, especially for walking longer distances.
Exercise: From where you are living now, about how far away is your work, the grocery store, and other main places you need to go to on a regular basis? About how much time would it take to get to and from each of these locations on foot? If you don't already, would it make sense to walk to one or more of these places on a regular basis?
Except for the cost of the bicycle itself, getting yourself around on a bike is also a no-cost means of transportation, with added health benefits. Bike riding has the advantage of being faster than walking, and you can usually cover more ground and have a wider geographic range.
You may be able to find a good used bike at a bicycle shop or through local organizations. Make sure you get and wear a well-fitting bike helmet as well.
To keep from having your bike stolen, you'll need to get a strong bike lock. Be sure to use it whenever you are not physically on your bike. NO EXCEPTIONS!
Exercise: For each location you identified in the previous exercise, how easy (and safe) would it be for you to bike there and back? (Think about traffic, availability of bike paths, etc.) Are some of these locations a bit far away for walking but quite reasonable for biking?
In addition to walking and bike riding, taking the bus is another available option.
Unfortunately, bus transportation in the Monterey area and elsewhere is becoming increasingly expensive. If you must ride the bus daily or just about daily, a monthly bus pass may save some money compared to buying single tickets. However, an even better approach would be to make walking and/or bicycle riding your primary means of transportaion, with bus riding reserved for places that are actually too far away to get to on foot or by bike. Under this arrangement, it would be more economical to buy an individual daily ticket on the (few) days you would need to take the bus.
In the area served by the Monterey-Salinas Transit System (MST), you can combine bus and bicycle transportation by putting your bike on a sturdy rack at the front of the bus. There is no extra charge for this. For "how-to" details, click here and scroll down the page that pops up.
Exercise: From where you are living, about how far away is the nearest bus stop? Do you know the daily schedule for that stop? If not, how could you find out about this and other bus service details such as rates, discount fares, and so forth?
Taking a Taxi
We won’t say that you should never use a taxi. Taking a taxi may make sense in an emergency situation when there is no other suitable alternative. (One example might be if an employer, on very short notice, calls you for a job interview that you can't get to on time in any other way.
Needless to say, these kinds of emergencies should be very rare.
Owning a Car
In the housing area, having your own apartment might be considered the "high point" of your housing quest. In the same way, you might feel that having your own car (or truck) would be the ultimate prize in terms of transportation.
However, considerable caution is in order here. A very wise man once said, “Be careful about what you ask for, because you may get it.” And this is certainly true for car ownership.
On the plus side, having a car/truck of your own means that you:
- can go anywhere at any time (as long as the gasoline holds out
- are no longer tied to bus schedules or other public transportation restrictions
- can drive right up to the place you are going (and keep from getting wet in the rain)
- have plenty of room to haul groceries, job tools, or other personal belongings from place to place
On the minus side, there are a number of very real and very big expense items, including:
- initial purchase price, and any related fees or taxes
- regular maintenance and any needed repairs
- parking fees, including meters and parking lots
- (in some cases) garage fees added to room or apartment rental cost
In addition to the major, unavoidable costs listed above are numerous possible costs--many of which can have serious legal consequences as well. These include:
- at-fault accidents that harm persons and/or property
- DMV infractions of all sorts--speeding, DUI, other code violations
- increased insurance premiums because of poor driving record
- late payment or nonpayment of car loan (leading to repossession, bad credit rating)
Necessary First Steps
In view of all the above, we need to strongly emphasize that you should not consider getting a car (or even spend time thinking about it) until you have successfully accomplished all of the following:
- gotten and kept a steady job for several months
- made and successfully kept a detailed money use plan and money use record (described in the Using Money Wisely section) for the same amount of time
- saved up a sizeable cash down payment, plus enough extra to cover the registration and any other start-up costs
- revised your money use plan, including all the estimated car expenses in addition to your other regular expenses
- made sure that your current income will fully cover the new plan
- made sure you are completely free of any drinking, drug-using, or any other “losing it” kinds of behavior that would jeopardize your ability to maintain a clean driving record and be a fully responsible member of the driving community.
Only when you can firmly answer “yes” to all of the above requirements should you start thinking about getting a car.
And if and when this future day arrives, following the detailed car-buying recommendations in the Buying and Keeping a Car module will help ensure that car ownership turns out well for you.