MMM Challenge: Anti-Automobile April

thevanSpring is finally here, and with it comes the opportunity to kick one’s own ass up to a new level of satisfying performance. Thus, I thought we Mustachians might work on our health and fitness this month, even while maintaining the usual focus on exceptional finances.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to look where the fields of fitness and finance intersect, which is of course right in your driveway … in the Motorized Throne* of your automobile.

At an Intellectual level, we both know that the less time and money you spend driving yourself around, the richer and healthier your life will become. But down at the Excuse-making, Complainypants, and Emotional levels, you feel you need every tonne and horsepower of your car for daily life. Your entire world is based around that beautiful machine, and you’ll be damned if Mr. Money Mustache is going to rip it away from you using only the power of his keyboard.

So let’s just take it easy for starters. Let us agree that cars (and in the US, personal trucks) can be used for both good and evil.

When they are blasting you and your family along on the interstate, past the amber waves of grain of the Great Plains, or up across the glaciers and spires of the Continental Divide, while the stereo rocks and everyone sings, cars are undoubtedly a Force of Good.

On the other hand, while they are wedged into an overcrowded parking lot making six-point turns between pauses to wait for shopping carts to roll slowly past, cars are not quite as empowering. And when perched impotently on the lift, dripping strange fluids as your grim-faced mechanic explains the upcoming repair bill, they also fall short of their common role as a bodypart augmentation.

So how do we separate the Good from the Evil?

Well, Duh, we obviously just stop using them for local errands under 3-5 miles, when we should be using our feet or our bikes.

But since it’s only the first of the month, I’m going to make it even easier. For this month, why not just try to make yourself AWARE of when you are using your car, and when you are not.

Just start a little chart with five columns, and stick it on your fridge. “Day, Car, Bike, Feet, Comments”. Pre-fill the “Day” column with 1 through 30, the number of days in April.

110005Drove to Las Vegas
2052Bike tour of park with friends

Then every day, just mark down the number of miles you traveled using each method of transportation. Write a comment, or a thought, or an excuse in your “Comments” column.

By becoming aware of what you do each day, you might just find yourself shifting your transportation habits. Especially since you’ll be showing all of us your chart at the end of the month. Awareness, after all, is the first stage of ass-kicking.

Happy April!



*”Motorized Throne stolen from D. Cain, Raptitude

  • Jacob @ iHeartBudgets April 2, 2013, 2:10 pm

    Does carpooling count? Starting next week I’m carpooling to work, saving me about $100 a month in gas :)

    Bummer, though, because I just bought my wife a 4runner, and it doesn’t get great gas mileage. She doesn’t drive much, though :)

    I love the idea of riding a bicycle everywhere, and am seriously considering a road bike, not sure if I can pull off the spandex suit, though.

    • Willis Montgomery III April 4, 2013, 1:01 pm

      just ride in regular clothes. You don’t need special cycling clothes/shoes or anything. Sell the 4 runner, you don’t need it. I ride everyday rain/snow/sleet and hail and you can too.

      Check out

      for some good tips.

  • Bek April 2, 2013, 5:46 pm

    What wonderful timing! Yesterday I biked to work for the first time. It rained, but I cycled anyway dammit. I take that as a good omen. I previously took my scooter to save petrol and parking $, but cycling wins as it gives me exercise time too!

  • Dividend Mantra April 2, 2013, 6:43 pm


    Great challenge! Although I will admit that I’ve already beaten the game since I live car-free and use either the bus or my 16 year-old 49cc scooter for all my transportation needs.

    I suppose I need to get a bike now, don’t I? :)

    Hope all is well!

    Best wishes.

  • LoveMyCar April 2, 2013, 6:57 pm

    Not drive my car???? Pbfffffffff! Yeah right, April Fools! lol!

  • Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce April 3, 2013, 5:20 am

    Great timing! I’m about to buy a bike (training for a triathlon). It’s all very exciting! I think I’ll be able to park 1 of my 2 cars (no payments on them!) for most of the month. I’ll be interested to see how the others do!

  • catalana April 3, 2013, 7:05 am

    Oooo count me in! Not a good start, but in the space of 3 days it is already making me more aware of the miles and time I spend in the car!

    Good stuff MMM :)

  • Sarah April 3, 2013, 1:52 pm

    I created my spreadsheet. I started filling it in. Already logged 4 miles on the bike. Thanks for the challenge, I respond very well to empty spreadsheets! :)

  • Freeyourchains April 4, 2013, 7:57 am

    Can we face punch our Companies into letting us telecommute? I feel like they like watching their workers in the cubicles, just because of the Power authority they have over others willing to sit for 8 hours a day all their lives if they over consume so the company (aka CEO, Officers, Investors, then shareholders) can make huge quarterly profits off of the labors of others, while they decide to lay off or not give raises to the workers this year, though to make sure they continue to receive bonuses.

    This raises another question, if your boss told you to run for 1hr two times a day to get to work on time, though he isn’t paying you for your “commute”, would you keep working? Would it be worth it if only on minimum wage? You decide to move closer, but then the company doesn’t pay you to move closer, to help alleviate you of your “commute” to work for them.

    I know Power struggles with Managers and employees,and the low-ultra social classes, go back to the stone ages, but shouldn’t individuals continue to put up the fight against social worker norms, financial employer to employee abuse, and sometimes culture norms of worker mistreatment?

  • Liz April 4, 2013, 9:47 am

    I assumed that we’d already beaten this challenge; we sold our car in August. The cash we made enabled us to move to a nicer (as in more walkable, less gunshots) neighborhood and an apartment within spitting distance of an El stop with amazing neighbors. I subsequently quit my (very stressful, soul-crushing) full-time job to take a part-time job three doors down from our apartment, which is enabling me the time and creative energy to finish up a personal/professional milestone. I’ll go full-time again sometime in the summer, and then my wife will downshift her freelance hours and return to school. Even though we took a pay cut and moved into a place that was slightly more expensive, our finances are in better shape than they were before we sold the car. If we’d held on to that albatross, there’s no way we could have afforded the move and the job shifts.

    That said, I — as the only driver in the household — frequently get an I-Go car (car sharing program here in Chicago) when I think it’s too much of a hassle to take public transportation, walk, or bike (A meeting in the suburbs that’s annoying to get to by transit, being to lazy to walk to one of the four grocery stores that are less than a mile away and rationalizing it with “Well, I’ll be able to buy in bulk and get a better price”). I think my challenge will be to go without IGo in April.

  • @pfinMario April 4, 2013, 11:02 am

    As a New Yorker, I’m probably going to win this… just a heads up

  • healthiswealth April 6, 2013, 5:52 am

    Thinking about the North American obsession with cars, especially SUV’s reminds me of this awesome video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0NfaKiPIMc ..

  • PFgal April 12, 2013, 3:18 pm

    It’s posts like these that make me extra sad I can’t ride a bike. I’m not complaining, it’s just a fact for me, due to a health condition. But I want to point out that while there are legitimate reasons for not riding a bike, most of the complaints don’t fall into those categories. If you’re physically able to ride, you should! Think about how fortunate you are to have that ability and then go ride like the wind. I’d ditch my car in a second if I could ride a bike. It’s healthier, cheaper, and easier. Even dealing with cars on busy streets while biking is probably less stressful than trying to drive around the city. Similarly, don’t be lazy about stairs – be grateful you can climb them! I can only walk one flight at a time, but I’m excited to do it, because a year ago I couldn’t. So the next time you’re feeling lazy, the next time it seems “easier” to drive instead of bike, think about all the people who can’t do it, be grateful for your good health, and get on that bicycle!

  • Samantha April 17, 2013, 11:21 am

    Alright it took me a bit but I finally got a bike that will work for triathlons in the future and biking to work now. I won’t be able to ride everyday since I live 17 miles outside of town, but a minimum of twice a week. So far I am loving it just getting used to the seat and carrying a backpack for a change of clothes and lunch is the hardest part, but I’ll get used to it all in time.

  • Rad Dude April 21, 2013, 1:53 pm

    I would like to add something here. I know it is un-mustachian, but I rarely used to ride my bike because I live in a somewhat hilly area. I recently bought an “Ebike” kit that adds an electric motor to my bike. This solved my problem and made riding quite a bit more fun.

    I would be curious to know what MrMoneyMustache thinks of ebikes. At the very least, they save time and extend your biking range. I have been driving at least 20% less since I got mine.

  • Ottawa April 30, 2013, 6:58 am

    The bad news is that I drove to work April 12 due to this: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/roads+high+winds+cause+school+cancellations+still+expected/8227019/story.html (since my only rule is that I don’t bike in freezing rain).

    The good news is that I biked the other 20 work days for a total of 320 km (200 miles). Since my car is about 9L/100km in the city; I saved around $40. However, this savings is minor compared to the gain in health, reduction in stress and increased awareness of Spring!

  • Ryan May 1, 2013, 6:15 am

    I’ve got my chart for the month filled out! Where do I share it?

    Here are my totals:

    Bike: 313 miles
    Public transport (bus and metro): 20 miles
    Walking:18 miles
    Car: 23.5 miles

    • Debbie M May 2, 2013, 6:10 pm

      Thought it would be here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/throw-down-the-gauntlet/anti-automobile-april-biking-challenge!!/

      But I don’t see anything there. My numbers are:
      Bike: 0
      Public transport: 154 (mostly to work–includes walking)
      Feet: 5
      Car: 727 (including one 517-mile trip)

      I knew I wouldn’t be riding my bike–I just did this challenge for the learning experience. I learned that one of my favorite grocery stores is closer than I thought (1.9 miles)–good biking distance once we figure out a good way over the freeway. I learned that most of my trips are over 3 miles, and most of my non-work-commuting trips are over 5 miles. I learned there is a good bus between my new dentist and work but not home. And I learned that sometimes the recommended biking routes are shorter than the recommended driving routes (when there are no good driving roads that are direct).

      I already knew I don’t like biking to work because I prefer reading during the commute than exercising during it. And I already knew I wanted to own a car because I value locational independence as much as I value financial independence. I normally walk a bit more when I don’t have plantar fasciitis, but I seem to be able to walk fair distances non-destructively if I use a walking stick.

      Details here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuE6mZZIL_MVdEhMOGZ0Y0wxSERPNDVLU2NJWlcwM1E#gid=2

  • EarningAndLearning May 31, 2017, 6:26 pm

    I love the idea of taking a month to focus on one life-improvement thing, like driving way less and biking more.

    I’ll do it this month (June 2017)!

    It’s also helpful to enroll others, and explain to them why you are making extra effort to bike long or inconvenient distances, sometimes in rain, because that’s the focus of the month! Also, for establishing new habits, a month is a perfect amount of time!

    I need to get my bike outfitted with lights & get myself some reflective gear for safety.

    Challenge accepted! Here’s to a month of way more cycling and walking, and WAY less driving!


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