By: Making Momentum I’ve been walking to work for 4 years straight. Every single day. Through snow, rain and Ontario humidity, it’s been my consistent mode of transportation day after day to and from the office. Based on a rough approximation of the actual days I’ve gone to work in that time frame, that’s somewhere between 920-950 days of walking. Or 1800-1900 total one way walks. I’m fortunate enough to live close enough to my offices that I’m able to walk each day. It was a major part of the reason I selected my current residence. I can’t stand sitting in traffic on the ultra-jammed roads and highways of Toronto. And the cramped subway is a serious source of angst. Busy, noisy, dirty, rude and rushed. It’s not my scene. I’ve never tried to quantify the net outcome on my money, health and mind this has had to date. After reading this post by Jason at Mr. Free At 33, it got me thinking and analyzing my own situation. What are the results I’ve had over this time? Let me try to summarize some of the benefits of walking to work for 4 years straight has had on my life.
The route I take hasn’t altered in these 920-950 days outside of the times I am going out after work for a professional, personal or social reason. I know the sidewalks, crosswalks, concrete, stains and cracks in the ground like the back of my hand. So how far is my walk? Almost 2.1 kilometers each way (2,600 steps). So that’s 4.2 kilometers round trip (5,200 steps) or 2.61 miles for the daily total. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not really that far of a walk. I am thankful for that on days when it’s -30 and blowing sideways snow or when it’s 40 degrees with humidity. In terms of the timing, it’s not the quickest walking pace due to the number of red lights and busy intersections along the route. It takes me somewhere between 20 – 30 minutes total each way. It’s a walk through the concrete jungle of Toronto. There is a definite lack of wilderness, fresh air, and mother nature to motivate my mind or reward my eyes. So that’s my walk…
The positive financial impact of walking to work is quite substantial no matter what way I look at it. The ability to step outside and just make my 2,600 steps on foot to the office each day is friendly to my wallet in an expensive city like Toronto. Given I’ve been doing this for 4 years, those monetary savings have really piled up. If I wasn’t walking every day, I’d essentially have two options on getting to work: taking public transit or driving. Either option would be pretty quick given my proximity to the office. How much exactly have I potentially saved? Let’s try to figure this out for both scenarios and for the sake of consistency, I will assume I am living in the same location as I do now.
TRANSIT PASS: ALTERNATE ROUTE #1
The price of a monthly transit pass has fluctuated from approx. $110 to $150 over the 4 years I’ve been walking to work. For the sake of balance, let’s say that it equates perfectly to an average of $130 monthly over that time frame.
- $130 per month x 48 months = $6,240 total
The net savings from not taking transit falls in the realm of $6,240 over the last 4 years. Let’s run a little scenario assuming I invested each and every cent of these savings. Based on the compound annual growth rate of 9.94% (taken from this calculator) of the S&P 500 from January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2017, what would these returns be? The actual value of this $6,240 saved would be $7,952 in this scenario. As I mention below, I didn’t invest every cent of this in the markets, so my true return isn’t this figure. But those net financial benefits did go to help get me on my personal finance journey.
CAR: ALTERNATE ROUTE #2
I don’t currently own a vehicle whatsoever. I actually haven’t had a car in almost 7 years now. I’ve rented cars, participated in vehicle sharing services and borrowed friends or families over that time, but haven’t owned one of my own. The monetary gains I could’ve had from this lifestyle choice are bountiful. Yes, I said could’ve. I was in university for part of that time frame and a financial dullard during and after that. So I wasn’t reaping all of the potential rewards of being car-less. See my post on the Stupid Money Mistakes I’ve Made – What I Learned From Them for more details there. Anyways back to the matter at hand… For the sake of this scenario, I am not going to factor in the cost of actually owning a car. No depreciation, upkeep, insurance, etc. Even though I am reaping the financial rewards of being vehicle-free, I will only include the direct costs that would be incurred from driving each day versus walking.
- Parking: $10 daily x 950 days = $9,500
- Gas: $2.50 daily x 950 days = $2,375 (it’s a really short drive)
The car route would’ve cost me in the range of $11,875 over the last 4 years. Again that doesn’t factor in the actual costs of owning a car, just the connected costs to using it as my means of transit to work. Similar to our transit savings scenario above, what would the true value of this $11,875 be if it had all been invested from January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2017, at the same 9.94% CAGR? Equal monthly investment installments would be approx. $247.40. The true value would be $15,134 in this scenario if each penny saved had been invested of this period of walking to work for 4 years. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t invest all of these savings directly into the market. However, these savings have helped me eliminate my consumer debt, make big momentum on my student loan balance and continue to push my retirement savings rate.
In terms of the brass tacks physical fitness and health benefits of walking to work for 4 years, I can approximate some rough quantitative figures. As noted above, the walk is 4.2 kilometers (2.61 miles) or roughly 5,200 steps roundtrip. Totaling the distance walked in the last 4 years (approx. 950 days of “office days”), that falls around 3,990 kilometers or 2,480 miles. In terms of steps, that is 4,940,000. Quite the distance walked when you look at the numbers that way! Based on this calorie calculator, that brings the calories burned to an estimated 266 daily. say the health benefits of walking are?
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mood
- Improve your balance and coordination
Here is another article from Prevention on The Amazing Health Benefits Of Walking Outside Every Day. While I can’t run A/B tests or get inside my organs, veins, bones, and corners of my body to truly quantify the net health effects of walking to work for 4 years straight, I think it’s safe to say it’s positive. It gives me energy to start my morning. It gets my blood moving and helps get some motion through my body before getting to the office for the day. In terms of mental health, it definitely helps with stress and then all the mental benefits I mention below.
What do I do on my walk to work each day outside of put one foot in front of the other? I listen to podcasts. If you’ve read my blog before, you might know I love podcasts. Podcasts have given me the opportunity to sit in on engaging conversations between an extensive collection of thought leaders, world-renowned business people, athletes, bloggers, comedians, lifestyle coaches and so forth. I’ve taken in so much FREE knowledge and inspiration from podcasts. The net effect on my life and mind would be hard to identify. How many podcasts have I listened to on my 950 or so days of walking to work? Assuming I listen to 1.5 podcasts per day on my roundtrip walk, that is 1,425 podcasts over the last 4 years. Given some of my favorite podcasts are also short-form, quick hitting shows…that number is probably closer to 2,000 podcasts total. Podcasts on personal finance, entrepreneurship, blogging, marketing, history, motivation, travel, comedy and a handful of other topics. These podcasts have helped me build a foundation of thoughts and knowledge that in turn play a role in shaping my current path in life. Outside of podcasts, the are other mindfulness benefits on my walks. The freedom of walking lets my mind wander:
- Plan the day ahead
- Reflect on the day that was
- Brainstorm blog or business ideas
- Crunch financial numbers in my head
- Ideate on more grandiose lifestyle decisions
The list could go on and on… I really don’t enjoy sitting in traffic or being jammed into a sardine can like system on the Toronto subway lines. The mental health benefits and general wellness I’ve gotten from walking to work 4 years have likely paid dividends I don’t even realize. One thing I do know for sure is that these walks are undoubtedly helpful for my mind.
I am in a unique situation, that I actively and purposely put myself in. I wanted to be able to work to work every day. My initial decision to live where I have for the past 4 years was rooted more so in my hatred of sitting in bumper to bumper traffic or taking public transit in this busy city. The net results of that decision have been some serious money, health and mind benefits. Walking to work for 4 years straight has been a great adventure so far. I don’t know how long this will continue to be the case as potential career and lifestyle changes may occur. The addition of kids may also shift the situation when that comes. But for the time being, I am going to keep enjoying these benefits and be gracious for the opportunity to do so. Over 4,940,000 steps and counting… Do you have a similar story of being able to walk to work? Let me know in the comments. If you drive or take transit, what are some of the benefits you’ve had on your commutes? If you listen to podcasts or are able to work on side hustles along the way, I’d love to hear in the comments.
Republished with the permission of Making Momentum.