My First Cab Ride after 2 Years of Public Transportation – Was it Worth it?


Written by Liz

Just your regular 27-year-old, queer, super-introverted, FIRE-chasing, frugal Singaporean, who lives a pretty good life while earning only a modest salary, but still plans to retire at age 40 with $1,000,000. Click here to read more

September 2, 2018

A few days ago, I was side hustling till late. I ran into a few problems after. One thing led to another, and I ended up taking a cab back home. I paid $13.40 for the cab fare.

It got me thinking. Is taking a cab worth it? What have I learnt from taking public transport all the time over the last 2 years? (No cabs, no Uber. Just buses and the subway.) Should I keep taking public transportation?


Did I Overpay For My Cab Ride?

I currently earn $2,825 a month from my corporate job. I work 9 hours a day. On top of that, I need time to get ready for work. And of course, commute to work. I take about 30 minutes to get ready for work, and another 30-45 minutes to commute to work. After work, that’s another 30-45 minutes back home. Optimistically speaking, that’s about 1.5 hours each day, right there. Factoring in this time taken, I earn a very handsome $12.80 an hour.

After side hustling, I usually take only about 35 minutes to get back home by bus, which costs $1.37. This time though, I spent 5 minutes hailing a cab. After which, the cab ride back home was about 10 minutes. Altogether, 15 minutes. I saved only 20 minutes of my time.

This means that I should have paid only $4.25 ($12.80/3) for the time that I saved.

Instead, I forked over an exorbitant $13.40.


The Guilt

A wave of guilt overwhelmed me the moment I saw $13.40 flash across on the cab meter. Even before working out the math above, I already knew, “this isn’t worth it”.

I hopped out of the cab and reluctantly entered the cab fare into my expenses-tracking app. I watched as my cab fare ripped a hole into my transportation budget.

On a good month, I can spend no more than $60 on transportation for the entire month. When I’m feeling like living it up a little, my expenditure would increase to $70-$80. My cab fare was a whopping 15-20% of my entire transportation budget.

That night, I spent feeling guilty. I thought about how I could have fed myself for 2 whole days with that money. Or how I could have taken anywhere between 9-15 bus rides with that money. I looked back on how I was, 4 years ago. I was zipping around everywhere on cabs! It’s no wonder that girl could never save a single cent.

This reminded me of how I used to impulse shop. I didn’t have a lot of money either, but I’d see something and just buy it on impulse. Because it felt so good in the moment. After, I’d regret, but never once reflected on my actions. I kept shopping and then feeling guilty, over and over again. I smiled as I realised how much that girl has changed.

This time, I felt guilty. But this time, I had reflected. Never to make the same mistake again.


What 2 Years of Public Transportation Taught Me

We all know how it’s like on a public bus and train, being packed with a million other commuters. It’s the worst.

But with some trial and error, I’ve realised that it’s possible to actually enjoy your commute. I’ve learnt to time my journeys so that I don’t spend too much time waiting at the platform. I’ve learnt which buses will be packed, and which won’t be. I’ve learnt to read books, listen to podcasts, or do something enjoyable during my commute. I’ve learnt that public transportation isn’t so bad after all.

Actually, I can’t quite imagine taking any form of transport but.

“First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, gets so you depend on them.”
– Red, from The Shawshank Redemption

Considering the fact that I save only 20 minutes of time each way if I were to take a cab, and also taking into account the fact that my cab ride would cost $12 more than a bus ride each way, why would I ever take another cab ride again?

Sure, I save 40 minutes each day. But that’s going to cost me $24 a day. That’s $120 for a 5-day work week. And $6,240 for a 52-week year. That’s more than 2 months of my paycheck!

Nah. I think I’ll save that $6,240 and spend that extra 40 minutes each day reading my books. Or listening to music. Or doing whatever it is I enjoy.

No more cabs for me. As far as I can help it.




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  1. 5am Joel

    Most of my childhood was spent on trains, buses, and skateboarding places with friends. I remember hundreds of rides and interactions – Memories I’ll keep forever. I’ve also caught countless cabs, Ubers, and expensive ride services. But I can only remember a handful of them being a fun journey. The other 99% of cab/Uber rides I have completely forgotten about, and are meaningless to me today.
    Great post!

    • Liz @ Splurging on Freedom

      That’s a great point, Joel! How life was so much easier when everything was simple. Even a simple train ride or bus ride could make us happy! I’m glad you had such wonderful memories, it really makes you think. 🙂

  2. Lena Myers

    Wow. You really published an awesome cool experience. Thanks a lot.

  3. Ashley

    The Cab ride is only good for some specific events, there is no comparison of public transportation for the routine transfers.
    Loved the way you’ve wrote it. Keep it up!

  4. Florencia

    Thank you for the excellent post

  5. Eva

    Well, I believe that cab rides are good only when you need to reach somewhere instantly and comfortably, else it’s useless.

  6. Bettina

    Thanks for the terrific post