5 ways a bike can make you wealthier
As spring slowly gives way to summer and temperatures begin to heat up, bicyclists everywhere are heading out to their garages, tuning up their wheels and hitting the pavement or trails.
Some 103 million Americans over age 2 — that's 34 percent of all Americans over age 2 — ride a bicycle each year, according to a 2015 survey conducted by Breakaway Research Group for the nonprofit PeopleForBikes Coalition.
Few forms of exercise are as fun or relaxing as a long bike ride. Cycling is the perfect way to boost both your physical and emotional health. It's also a wonderful way to boost your bank account balance.
Following are five ways that your trusty two-wheel ride can make or save you money this summer.
1. Commute to work
Your boss might actually pay you to bike to the office. Sound appealing? Speak to your company's human resources representative about the federal Bicycle Commuter Act. Here's the rundown, according to the League of American Bicyclists:
Any employer, if they chose to do so, may provide a reimbursement of up to $20 per month for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee in conjunction with their commute to work by bike. The reimbursement is a fringe benefit paid by the employer [so] the employee does not get taxed on the amount of the reimbursement.
Even if your employer chooses not to participate, you can still use bicycle commuting to pad your bank account. Claes Bell, an editor at Bankrate, commuted on two wheels for nearly five years. In a Bankrate article, he wrote that he and his wife saved a bundle by becoming a one-car family:
According to my calculations, over that period we saved around $7,219, which helped us accomplish financial goals like improving our home and building an emergency fund.
2. Work as a courier or delivery person
If you love to ride, you may want to consider becoming a bicycle courier. Companies like Postmates hire couriers to deliver goods on demand to customers.
Although you can use any form of transportation to deliver orders — as long as you get there fast — you'll save gas money and pocket more cash by pedaling to and from destinations instead of driving.
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3. Rent out your bike
Not planning on pedaling for a few days? Sure, you can let your bike sit in the garage when you aren't using it. Or, you can earn some extra green by renting your bike to those in need.
Spinlister is a global ride share service, essentially an Airbnb for bicycles — as well as snowboards and surfboards, among other non-motorized rides. You list your bike "for rent" on the website. Spinlister keeps 17.5 percent of the rent you earn. You get the rest.
So, rent your bike at $20 an hour for one hour, and you'll earn $16.50. And the company says it will even reimburse you up to $10,000 for damage or theft.
4. Use your bike for errands
The next time you have a bunch of errands to run, opt for two wheels instead of four. This can net you a lot of green in the long run, according to the blog Mr. Money Mustache:
Let's start with the bare minimum: Any mileage you put on your bike instead of your car saves you about 50 cents per mile in gas, depreciation, and wear and maintenance. From this savings alone, doing a couple of bike errands per day (4 miles) in place of car errands will add up to $10,752 over ten years.
Plus, think about all the health and environmental benefits.
5. Cancel your gym membership
Why dish out all that dough for a fancy gym membership when you can buy a bike and reap similar — or even better — benefits for a fraction of the price? According to the website I Love Bicycling:
As anyone with a gym membership can tell you, gyms are expensive. At least with an exercise routine that involves biking, you can pay a one-time fee for the bike and get several years out of that purchase before the bike wears down. The bike lasts longer the less you strain it and [if you] keep up on the little bit of maintenance the bike may require. In the long run, this will save you money on gym memberships or exercise equipment.
Do you have other tips for making or saving money using your bike? Share them below or on our Facebook page.