An Unexpected Benefit of an Almost Non-Existent Commute

When Kyle and I moved to Seattle, we decided where to live based on proximity to Kyle’s workplace. (I work out of our apartment when I’m not traveling.) Luckily for us, his workplace is adjacent to a residential area, and we secured an apartment just 0.2 miles away. Kyle walks all of three minutes to and from work.


This is awesome for many reasons. 1) We only own one car (instead of two), which stays with me for any errands or appointments I have during the day. 2) We don’t have to spend money on commuting, which can be a huge expense if you use a car. 3) With all that non-driving and non-cycling, Kyle’s less likely to get into an accident. 4) Kyle can spend time with me and DPR instead of commuting. 5) Kyle can pop home for lunch if I need a break from DPR, I have a work call scheduled, or we have out-of-town guests. 6) DPR and I can walk to Kyle’s workplace to meet him after work for happy hour with the company or a family outing.


Last week, I realized we have one more benefit to add to this list, and it’s not as obvious as not-spending money on commuting or more time with family: It’s not convenient to eat out or order take-out.


I was chatting with some other people in my self-employed PhD community about self-care, which ended up primarily being about physical health. Another work-at-home mother of young children said that one of her goals is to cook more, as her husband often picks up take-out for the family on his way home from work.


That comment made me realize that we have been very consistent in eating out of our own kitchen since Kyle went back to work after his paternity leave. We rarely eat out any more despite the added work of parenting. Part of that for sure is my commitment to eating well and also the added difficulties of eating out with a baby in tow. But another aspect that I hadn’t yet realized is that we don’t have the convenient and tempting option of picking up food on the way home from work.



Kyle and I drove right past our favorite Thai restaurant on our way home from work for five years in Durham. On a number of occasions (before we enacted our no-convenience-food rule), we stopped there to dine in or called in a take-out order from the car.


But now, I work from home and Kyle’s 0.2 mile walking commute passes exactly 0 commercial establishments. The convenience isn’t there, the advertising isn’t there, the tempting smell isn’t there. So we just eat dinner at home, happily oblivious to the restaurant options available a little further afield.


This unexpected benefit applies for other types of spending as well, like stopping by the grocery store or Target on your way home from work. Totally by accident, we created a natural barrier that makes convenience spending inconvenient.


Are there any structural aspects of your life that help you practice frugality?


Written by

Filed under: food, frugality · Tags:

Leave a Reply


CommentLuv badge