My History of Traveling by Bike

Part One

My first trip on a bike, now ten years ago, was one of the best experiences of my life.  I was 20 years old and had never been bike touring before. In fact, I didn’t really know much about bikes, but I had recently bought a Bianchi Volpe that was on consignment at a small bike shop for 250$ (a fortune for me back then). I didn’t know that it was a touring bike at the time, but the Volpe had rack mounts. Once I figured out that I could put racks and panniers on the bike I looked over craigslist and found a cheap older set. This all lead to me, somewhat unintentionally, having a bike touring setup so I decided I should probably go on a trip. But it was winter in North America, so I decided on New Zealand; because it was their summer.

 

Bike touring
My overloaded bike and me taking refuge from the rain in a barn, New Zealand. My 1st touring setup

I had friends that had been to New Zealand and it sounded like a cool place and one that was perhaps more tame and bite-sized for my first solo international bike touring trip. It seemed like two and a half months would be enough time to bike around both Islands, though, a long time considering I had never been on a bike tour before. There was plenty of time before trail crew started up again in the spring and I had no plans for the winter, so why not?

I had worked all summer before the New Zealand trip on a trail crew, and most of the fall building a barn for my folks. I had about 4000$ saved, just enough if I didn’t spend much on equipment and if I traveled cheaply. I needed bike shorts for the trip, I found a pair that seemed decent at a thrift store for 10$, they turned out to be women’s, but they had a padded shammy, which was what my bony dirtbag butt needed to survive the long days on a bike seat. I ended up spending about 400$ on the bike, racks, panniers, and other gear, like the bike shorts. That was pretty cheap, perhaps too cheap considering I ended up having to buy a new rear wheel halfway through the trip to replace the rusty one the Volpe came with. Having never done a bike touring trip before I made the classic mistake of over packing and having way too much weight on the bike. I had a stove, steel pot, bowl and spoon,  5lb two person tent, a change of clothes + running shoes + sandals + warm jacket + rain gear. Not to mention a book or two and a leather bound journal, and a compass. Like I said I didn’t know that much about bikes so I didn’t have any chain lube packed, only a set of alan wrenches to put the bike together at the airport. The loaded bike weighed in at over 70lbs! at least half my body weight.

I learned a lot on that trip, how to replace a spoke on the side of the road, that it’s ok to break down in the middle of nowhere, at least in new Zealand. I learned that the cheapest high carb meal I could make without cooking was a can of beans dumped on top of a plate of chips (french fries). I learned that 70lbs was far too much to peddle up a hill! (I did it but it was HARD) and ended up sending a box of stuff back to the states after the first week. I learned that you should wash your shammies from time to time. For a few day’s I road with a german cyclist who told me that if I didn’t get some lube for my bike chain we could not ride together anymore because the squeaking was driving him crazy, so I learn to do that too.  But mostly I learned that to travel by bike is the coolest most magical way to see the world and I was hooked from then on.

camping new zealand croped.jpg
Camping on the beach in New Zealand
Part Two

Continue reading “My History of Traveling by Bike”

Advertisements

About Lending Club (Updated)

There are lots of great reviews of Lending Club out there. To name a few, Mr. Money Mustash has a series, and Lend Academy has a great YouTub as well, see below. What I’d like to touch on is why peer to peer lending is cool, and how to buy notes that are in high demand.

According to Wikipedia “peer to peer lending is the practice of lending money to unrelated individuals, or “peers”, without going through a traditional financial intermediary such as a bank or other traditional financial institution. This lending takes place online on peer-to-peer lending companies websites using various different lending platforms.”

In short, instead of the banks giving you a loan and collecting the interest, you get a loan lenidng clbwhich is funded by other individuals who then get to collect your interest. This is more egalitarian and keeps your money in the hands of your “peers” instead of funneling it up into the big banks and the “1%”. There are several other peer-to-peer companies out there, but I prefer Lending club. They’ve been around for about a decade and have proved to be a valuable resource for both investors and bowers. Continue reading “About Lending Club (Updated)”

Small Car Adventuremobile

In addition to being small, cheap, fuel efficient, and utilitarian, my 1996 Corolla can carry Five, yes five, bikes. Five is also the number of seatbelts that it possesses. Winter in 7000ft Flagstaff is snowy, which is great for skiing, but not so good for mountain biking. This inevitably leads to the seasonal pilgrimages south to the lower elevations and higher temps. And what better way to do so then to load up the small car Adventuremobile with a few bikes and friends and hit the road in style.

small cars rule croped
You know you’re doing something right when your bike is worth more than your car.

Sedona AZ has some of the best mountain biking in the country and is about a 45min drive down the hill from Flagstaff. As much as I dislike driving, and think that driving to bike is a particularly ridiculous, the desire to get on my mountain bike and ride those delicious Sedona red dirt trails is irresistible. Still driving the better part of an hour and a half round trip is pretty wasteful in both dollars and pollution, even at 30+ MPG.

Unlike most vehicles seen at mountain bike trailheads, the Corolla is not a 4×4, nor is it lifted or have any clearance at all to speak of. It stands out in size and stature due to the seeming overabundance of 4×4 trucks, SUVs, and Jeeps. There is obviously some perceived correlation between having a knobby tired full suspension mountain bike, capable to riding over most things, and thinking that one’s vehicle should have similar attributes.

Your car is not a toy
Your car is not a Toy, if you drive one that looks anything like this picture then you are very confused.

On the contrary, there is no real reason for this to be the case. The vast majority of driving to get to most trailheads is paved, and if the last bit of the road is to ruff for a little Corolla then you simply unpack the bikes and ride from there. I can’t count the times I’ve parked next to the guy with the big lifted V8 truck who has driven alone to meet his other buddies, who also drove there big trucks, all to park at a paved trailhead. I don’t mean be overly judgmental but we live in a world with finite resources, climate change is happening as we speak and I think it’s time we started acting like these things matter; because they do. Cycling is human powered transportation, it’s supposed to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

The Staycation Vaction

 

After requesting a chunk of time off from work over winter break, I decided to stay at home. So far it’s been a great vacation, I’ve been skiing, biking, going to yoga, cross fit, working on long overdue projects, dinner with friends, oh and starting this blog. There is a certain joy to be found in hanging out at home during the snowy months. The routine of splitting wood, stoking the fire, feeding the chickens and collecting eggs, shoveling snow, and getting ten plus hours of sleep a night is somewhat addictive. Not to mention the mad frugality and sustainability points for not driving, heating with my own firewood, and eating eggs from our chickens every morning for breakfast.IMG_20160114_182835615 Throw in a few backcountry powder ski days, evening soaks in the hot tub, and you have a fine Staycation indeed. Perhaps this could be looked at as a glimpse of early retirement. One might be concerned about running out of things to do. On the contrary, the list of potential projects, plans, and possibilities for enrichment is ever-growing in the back of my mind. I’m in no way ready to go back to work.

That said Chase and I are going on a 4-day bike trip to Southern Arizona at the end of my time off. It is good to get out of town, from time to time. After years of dirtbag climbing trips, we are both well versed in spending long periods of time living in our vehicles on next to no money. These days we have moved on to mountain biking trips. Which are similar, but given the shorter duration and advent of full-time work in both our lives there are more hot showers and meals eaten out on our trips these days.IMG_0175

The Free Hot Tub, DIY Style

Prior to the fancy new nursing career, I owned a free hot tub. Now two years later I have a comparatively expensive Soft Tub that I love and paid real money for. But the free hot tub came from the Craigslist Free section, which I used to, and still do, visit frequently. There are all kinds of cool things on the Free Craigslist. I’d seen free hot tubs on there before but this one looked batter than most and I was ready to give it a shot. I called the number and spoke with a gentleman who didn’t know that his hot tub had been listed for free on Craigslist, because his wife had listed it and put his number on the add! Turned out that the tub in question had been sitting in their yard, out of order, for a while and if I wanted it I could come and get it. Continue reading “The Free Hot Tub, DIY Style”

How to save 375$ a month

Financial independence is about how much you save, not how much you make. Make it happen, and put those dollars to work.

  1. Get a free hot tub. No really the benefits of having a hot tub at your house is invaluable. First your friends come to you, and they often bring beer. This saves you the expense of going downtown, to a trendy bar, and buying expensive drinks. Instead social hour happens while soaking in the hot tub. which is really nicer than a noisy bar downtown anyway and is more conducive for earnest conversations and meaning full discussions. (see how to get a free hot tub).  Saving one trip to bar a week = 15$ x 1 month = 60$
  2. Hang your clothes out. There is rarely a good reason for using a dryer. Put up a clothesline, and in winter make an indoor rack.  One large load = about 50 cents. 2 loads a week x 1 month = 4$   
  3. Get a cheaper phone plan. My flip phone cost 14$ a month, and my new smartphone is 25$ (though Republic Wireless)  = 50$  (based on an average US call bill of 75$)
  4. Ride your bike.  Gas saved =3 gallons a week x 1 month 24$

    303739_10100231881269949_7805735_50701033_1718702824_n
    Bike your way to financial independence
  5. Cook more at home. One less meal eaten out a week = 12.50$ x 1 month =50$
  6. Spend less on internet service by changing providers for a new promotional rate, or getting on the phone and telling them you are going to leave, which usually ends with them extending a lower rate.  =15$
  7. Drive an old, faded, slightly rusty, but still going strong small car. Ditch the car payments.
  8. Go dumpster diving and cut your grocery bill. Only buy what’s on sale. 

    DSCF0739
    A nice box of dumpstered food
  9. Bring your own bags to the grocery store 3 bags =15 cents x 1 month = 60 cents!
  10. Don’t pay for digital entertainment, all that stuff can be had for free and most of it is garbage anyway.  10$ a month
  11. Make your own coffee. It’s fun and they are lots of inexpensive ways to make a really good cup of joe at home. Just 2 cups at home/ 8 cups a month at 2.50$ = 20$ 
  12. Get a roommate, if you have not do so already. Living with other people is fun and splitting the bills saves you lots of money.
  13. Track your expenses on Mint.com and look for more ways to save!

Point being there are lots of ways to save money, and unless you are truly living hand to mouth, there is likely a way for you to save 375$ dollars a month.

Small Cars Rule! How to Buy One

35 MPG on the highway, that’s the estimated fuel usage for a 1996 Toyota Corolla. I bought one of these for 1550$ on Craigslist about two years ago and it has been nothing but good to me since then.  At that price with 124,000 miles, it was a great Craigslist score, not quite as good as the free hot tub, though.  Sure it had a busted grill, dented hood, broken door handles, and the upholstery had a “vintage” look with a unique mix of sun damage, stains, and dog fur stuck to it. But the engine was perfect and there was a well-kept stack of maintenance receipts from a local mechanic. So far the only maintenance I’ve done is change the front brake pads, which really did only take about 10 minutes and cost a mere 20$.

How to change Corolla brake pads in 10 minutes, narrated by an adorable little Japanese man.

 

Continue reading “Small Cars Rule! How to Buy One”

HEADLINE: Useful things found in trash can

I just made a fantastic cup of espresso with steamed milk from an espresso maker I just pulled out of an NAU dumpster, along with many other useful and neat things retrieved. Although I’m enjoying my cup of espresso, the amount of student created waste is appalling. There are enough food and clothing thrown away at the end of each semester to meet the needs of many who are in need, not to mention fancy coffee makers. An entitled generation that is going to get a big reality check when school ends, loan payments start and jobs are few. Might be wishing they kept that old espresso maker after all…..

HOW TO BUILD 5000 DOLLARS IN A YEAR WHILE LIVING IN YOUR CAR, OR ANYWHERE


Work it, work the system, work the numbers and work your ass off so that you own your time, your finances and your life.

On that note. Wealth is made by putting dollars to work, but even better is putting someone ease’s dollars to work. Enter the 0% APR credit card and the Credit Union Money Market account. It works like this:
STEP 1: Open a 12 month 0% APR cash rewards credit card. You do need decent credit for this to work *
STEP 2: Open a Credit Union account. 

STEP 3: Use the credit card to fund a Money Market account at the Credit Union for 2500$….. then do it again 2500$ + 2500$ = 5000$. (they have more than one type of Money Market account, so pick two different ones)
STEP 4: Transfer the 5000$ from the Credit Union into an investment account, for this example I’ll use Lending Club. Invest in quality high yield notes (using a filter, more on that here). A Vanguard or Mango Money account would be a better choice if you need access to the funds, like to pay down the credit card. lenidng clb
STEP 5: Pay off the credit card at the end of the 12 month 0% APR and pay no interest, or you’ll be the sucker making the banks rich. STEP 6: Set up a Mint.com account and stay organized! 

What does this all add up to you ask? Well here is the math:

  • 100$ = 2% cash back on the 5000$ you “spent” with your new cash rewards credit card at the credit union.
  • 325$ What you will make at 6.5% interest on 5000$ at Lending Club in 12 months (below average, I’m shooting for 9% return)

Plus all possible referral bonuses 

  • 25$ Lending Club referral (must put 5000$ for this)
  • 25$ Capital One checking/savings interest account referral
  • 50-25$ referral (by me or someone else with a suitable credit card). Discover card is generous with offering higher limits (greater than 5000$) and is an easier card to get approved for if you are new to the credit game. City Double cash card would also work well, but is harder to get. (update they may no longer be offering 0% apr.)

All that =500$ !!!! 10% ROI (return on investment) but remember, it was not your money in the first place, so that term does not even apply!

The one caveat is that Lending Clubs loans are 36 months, so you can’t cash it out to pay off the credit card, but your making 500$ to put toward it.

That means you need to save 4,500$ in 12 months. To do this Set up a 375$ a month auto transfer into a savings/checking account  375 x 12= 4500$ + your 500$ ROI. Open a savings/checking account that earns interest and put your dollars to work.

Part two: See How to save 375$ a month If you can do this then in a year you will have a 5000$ start on your financial Independence! Of course, you could just save the money on your own, and skip all this complicated stuff with opening accounts, this is just a way to accelerate the process. For me there is also extra motivation to keep saving every month, because I need to pay off the credit card, which helps me keep on track.  Another cool thing is that you get to see first hand the income generating power of having a large sum of money invested, without spending a year working to build that sum.

10-year outlook:

Keep reinvesting the 5000$ and at a compounding interest rate of 6.5% in about ten years your 5000$ will have doubled to 10,000 !!!! Without you doing anything. 

Keep saving 375$ a month and reinvesting  the 5000$ and in ten years you will have about 75,000$. Play a little with the numbers on this  Compound interest calculator

Or you could also use the money and go bike tour around New Zealand next winter…

 

* One potential issue is not getting approved for a suitable credit card or that the line of credit you are approved for is inadequate for the large sum needed for these transactions. In this case, do what you can with what you get approved for and wait for your credit to improve. In say 3 to 6 months try again. Note that carrying a large balance on your card may not be the best for your credit, but as long as you make the minimin payments and don’t default, it should be pretty minor. 

 

Disclaimer: Your on you own, these are just suggestions, don’t F it up.

 

 

 

 

Past Future Present, Building Lifestyle through out the ages

A lot has changed over the years. Throughout my various life phases, there are certain underlying themes that have held true regardless of the circumstances.  The pursuit to get the most out of life has constantly pushed me to build my lifestyle around maximizing my freedom and enjoyment of every day.  This used to mean living in my car  spending summers doing seasonal work in the backcountry of Colorado, Wyoming, and Alaska, with winter spent rock climbing, traveling, or home with my folks. We refer to this as the dirtbag lifestyle, which hallmarks is spending as little money as humanly possible to maximize the time not working, or just to survive to the next season at any rate.

These days I’m involved in a career and full-time job as a nurse. There is no offseason or foreseeable end to my current position for which I’m under contract. This is in sharp contrast to my former employment and can feel monotonous as a result.  Despite this I’ve built my lifestyle to still have as much freedom and enjoyment as it can; though there is always room for more. The underlying theme remains the same between the two. Not only that but the richness of the frugal dirtbag life, combined with the income machine my new career affords me, creates endless possibilities for building an ever more rewarding lifestyle. Which is what this blog is all about, building lifestyle.cropped-998019_567298896646879_1805086280_n.jpg