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#3217 - Friday, July 4, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz
Nonduality Highlights -    

Happy and safe Fourth of July to our American readers.  

There is some nondual and some American spirit in today's article. It addresses simplicity and (possibly) making a buck from the stock market (you could also lose!).    

"Getting rid of your car, or minimizing its use, and taking buses instead, can help simplify your life. Wisely investing the money you would have spent on a car can allow you to live even more simply."

Why I Prefer Buses to Cars

People aligned with the nondual perspective live simply, although their lifestyles can be quite divergent. One may live at the YMCA and work as a dishwasher while another lives in a mansion and owns a number of business employing thousands. Both would say life is simple. Life lives itself.

To make a smooth gravitation toward a simpler life, you need ideas, encouragement, and a nudge. I hope to pass some of those along.

Energy Costs: A Drag on Simplicity

These days the cost of energy is a drag on the move toward a simpler life. There are a number of ways to mitigate the impacts of rising energy costs. I want to talk about the transportation option of buses.

Disappointing Fred

Nearly two years ago I sold my car and started taking buses. Fred, my car salesman, was disappointed.

Why I Like Buses

I no longer worry about maintenance, repairs, vandalism, parking, cosmetic care, driving, putting on seat belts, insurance, registration, fuel, or (what I believe is) the greater likelihood of being harmed or killed in an accident.

Using buses, I don’t even have to keep my eyes open. Or I can watch the city go by.

If I feel unsafe, I can depart a bus at the next stop, though that has never happened to me.

I have read entire books and written book reviews while traveling on buses. I’ve met old friends. I’ve overheard recommendations for great eating places. I’ve tuned into different segments of society, especially that of teenagers, although it’ s not always pretty.

The Drawbacks of Buses

The drawbacks of taking buses include the trek to and from the bus stop, scheduling limitations, delays, bad weather, crowding, exposure to uncontrollable and unpredictable social interaction (not always a negative factor, however), and limited services for people with certain disabilities.

However, driving your own car has similar drawbacks: you can’t avoid social interaction, delays, walking to and from parking spots, weather hassles, crowding on the road, and uncontrollable and unpredictable situations, as well as disability issues.

The Bus Industry Pays You to Take Buses (Sort of)

New Flyer Industries --  -- is a Canadian income trust that pays over 9% per year on your investment. The company has been building buses since 1930 and has over a billion dollars in back orders. As the largest bus builder in the U.S. in Canada, they are busy these days.

If you invest $20,000 in New Flyer Industries, the cost of a modest new car, and if you hold the stock for ten years, here are the forces and dynamics at play, though you could simplify the flow of funds:

The 9% yield you receive is spent on buses and on taxes for receiving that income. You invest back into New Flyer $300 per month, the minimum cost of maintaining a car that is already paid for. The $300 per month is earning the 9% yield plus an estimated 6% annual appreciation of the stock, which adds up to 15% per year. At the end of ten years your $20,000, plus the monthly $300 investments, turns into $95,000, after taxes (at a 50% tax bracket) and an inflation rate of 3% per year. .

The Car Industry Only Makes Fred Rich

By investing the $20,000 in a car, you make Fred happy, but after ten years you have about $4000 for the car and you’ve spent $300 per month, or $3,600 per year or $36,000 after ten years. As a car owner, after ten years your cost is $52,000.

There are other financial and tax considerations, and I have not considered the pros of car ownership. However, the difference in cost between car ownership and taking buses is clear. Getting rid of your car, or minimizing its use, and taking buses instead, can help simplify your life. Wisely investing the money you would have spent on a car can allow you to live even more simply.

Stocks vs Cars

Investing in a stock is risky — do not buy any stock without consulting your financial advisor — but buying a car is …. nuts? Of course it depends on your life situation. Some people have no choice but to drive a car. Others love cars and everything about them. Businesses need cars. If you own an ambulance company you can’t rely on buses, especially if Fred just got hit by a bus.

--Jerry Katz

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