10 Ways Cycling to Work Can Enhance Your Wealth

Jake - Author/Founder

Jake - Author/Founder

I'm Jake. I believe you can build a wealthy life through frugal living and index investing.

I love cycling. Prior to the pandemic, I used to cycle to work and school often. The only two things that stopped me were heavy snow and laziness.  

Here are 10 ways cycling to work can increase your wealth. Lets go. 

Bike with Bag on Rear

1. Maintains your Discipline

No one wants to cycle to work when your car is staring at you. Your car provides the magnetic pull of the easy way. You must exercise willpower to make the harder choice. And willpower is forged through daily practice.

For this reason, I prioritize doing something hard every day. For me, the daily difficulty is working out, a 15-minute meditation, and writing. Crushing weights in the mornings is an alternate way that also sets the tone for the day.

You have to sacrifice comfort now for a better tomorrow. Want to grow net worth? You need to sacrifice spending today to pay down debt and invest. Want to earn more? You need to grind to gain education and skills. Delayed gratification is central to personal finance. 

2. Start Your Day with Energy

I’m a turtle in the mornings. It normally takes me a few hours before I reach my prime. Cycling, or working out, early in the morning wakes me up better than a cold shower.

Entering work full of life, energy, and cognitive power increases productivity. Over time these small daily improvements compound, and eventually you’ll be promoted  – boosting your income. 

3. Get Smarter, and Stay Smart Longer

According to this study, exercise induces structural and functional changes in the brain, benefiting cognitive functioning and wellbeing. Further, exercise limits neurodegeneration, maintaining your brain power as you age.

How does this relate to wealth? 

Other than the obvious benefit of maintaining your wits for longer, more cognition allows you to solve harder problems. Solving harder problems provides more value to society, and you are therefore paid more.

4. Time Efficient Exercise

You can’t get time back – use it carefully. 

This is why a small hole in the milk bag maddens me. I can feel the precious seconds of my life disappear as the milk flows through the tiny orifice. I digress.

I think everyone in the U.S and Canada should value their time at a minimum of $50/hour. Even if you don’t make $50/hr at your day job, your time has extra value in the form of future earnings potential. 

Picture of Burning Paper

My commute takes 10 minutes by car and 20 minutes by bike. I receive 20 minutes of cardio for 10 minutes of extra time. 

That is 10 minutes of “found time” each day – or 36 hours per year. That is 4 blog posts. 

5. Eliminate Parking Costs

Cycling to work every day will save you a whopping $2,200 per year if you pay $10/day for parking.  Now invest $2,200/year and you’ll have $1.1 million at the end of a 40-year career  (assuming a 10% annual return). You’ll also have giant calves and hardened willpower. 

We just translated the cost of parking into a future gain. It’s powerful to view all expenses through the lens of future wealth. Wealthy people do this. It’s called opportunity cost. 

Not only can you save and invest money spent on parking, but you will also grab the top parking spot. In most military buildings the Commanding Officer has the closest parking spot to the front entrance of the workplace. But there is only one better parking spot – the bike rack.  

6. Save on Fuel

When riding a bike, you burn calories, not gas. And your fuel savings are relative to the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. I’ll cover an example in reference to a 2021 F150.

Canadians:

  • You save 9.4L of gas for every 100 km you cycle.
  • At $1.30 per liter, you save $12.22 for every 100km cycled 

American’s – I didn’t forget about you and your unit system.

  • You’ll save one gallon for every 25 miles you cycle. 
  • At the current average of $3.22 USD per liter, you’ll save $3.22 for every 25 miles cycled.

You’ll get worse fuel economy if you have a short commute due to two factors. One factor is that a cold engine is less fuel efficient – it burns “rich” while cold. The second factor is that a cold engine additional fuel compensation to account for fuel that condenses inside the cold intake manifold.

7. Reduce Health Care Costs

The cliche “health is wealth” is true. Your health allows you to travel, to enjoy activities and it gives you the energy you need to better your life and to better the lives of others. Having monetary wealth is meaningless without your health. 

Daily exercise keeps your health in check, and this saves you on health care costs, particularly in the U.S. 

The only downside (or upside?) is that you’ll burn calories that require more food as fuel – costing you money. You can estimate the calories that you burn per ride with this calculator

8. Minimize Car Maintenance Costs

Oil deteriorates with engine operating hours. Your brakes grind away with every stop. Your wheel bearings and tires come closer to failure with every wheel rotation. And demands are placed on your suspension with every pothole and with every turn that shifts your car’s weight side to side. 

All of these maintenance costs are reduced when you ride your bike. 

9. Mental Health

It Keeps You Out in Nature:

We are not biologically wired to be parked still in a cubicle, house, or apartment for long periods of time. Instead, we thrive outdoors.

I think it’s common sense, but i’ll reference a study: Getting out in nature for at least 2 hours per week is associated with improvements in health and wellbeing.

Interestingly, the study found that there are no further improvements in wellbeing after 5 hours in nature per week. 

Picture of Nature

Reduces Stress

Cycling home after work is a pressure relief valve for built-up stress at work. It provides a nice divide between work and evening time. 

There is nothing like pedaling down a path with the cool air on your face after a stressful day at work. When I get home I feel refreshed and am more likely to grind through side hustle work.  

10. Decrease Your Carbon Footprint

The science is clear that CO2 will cost future humans. CO2 reflects absorbs infrared light, heating the planet over time. Global heating imposes the following costs:

  1. Reduced crop yields, increased food costs;
  2. More forest fires (releasing more CO2);
  3. Stronger storms;
  4. Ecosystem effects, increasing fishing costs; and
  5. Sea level rise, costing coastal cities. 

Vehicles contribute to CO2 in two primary ways: Through fuel burned, and through emissions released when the vehicle was manufactured. Cycling saves on both.  

Using the 2021 Ford F150 as a reference for fuel emissions:

  • You will save 2.3kg per 100 km you don’t drive
  • For Americans, that is 4.1 pounds of CO2 for every 25 miles you cycle.

When you drive less, your vehicle will last longer (as long as you take care of the body). So you avoid the CO2 used to manufacture the vehicle:

  • Coke, a type of coal, is burned to fuel the blast furnaces in steel production; and
  • Electricity is consumed during vehicle assembly

Because future CO2 costs are not captured, this is a form of market failure. Economists call this type of market failure an externality. The capitalist free market system works well, but it is not perfect. This is one of those imperfections.

Economists agree that we should capture this externality. That means a carbon tax to ensure we capture the true cost of consumption – just as we do for every other product.

Reducing CO2 by cycling will save money for others in the future. If you pay out a carbon tax, you’ll save directly.