Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Why Miser Mom spent $214.62 on gloves

So, in fact, I spent $214.62 on three pairs of gloves (meaning $71.54/pair).  I don't know if that makes it sound better or worse: one huge splurge versus three large splurges?  I dunno.   And the gloves aren't even people gloves; they're bike gloves.

Here's the SPDM sporting a fabulous pair of bike gloves.  Actually, the brand name (emblazoned in glow-in-the-dark letters, is "Bar Mitts", which has me and my husband constantly wanting to add a "Vah" below: "Bar Mitts Vah".  It just might happen).

These fancy bike gloves are more than just a fabulous conversation piece (although we've certainly had a lot of other bike riders strike up conversations with us to ask us how they work).  And they're more than just trend-setting style accessories (although we certainly do turn a lot of heads).

No, these bike gloves are capital investments.  They're going to help my family keep riding through cold weather.  And that's going to save us some serious money on commuting costs.

How much money will that save us?  Well, of course it's hard to tell. For the past two years, our one-car family has spent about $700/year on gasoline.  That doesn't include the amount I spent in rental cars, which were reimbursed by the places that invited me to give talks, but it does include a vacation trip from Pennsylvania to Minnesota (and back, of course), and a few trips down to Virginia, and all of our local travel.

Well, that $700 includes all of our local car travel.  But we do a lot of local non-car travel. For example, our typical week includes
  • weekly drum lessons (2.4 miles away),
  • daily boxing practice (2.2 miles away),
  • weekly food shelter (2.1 miles away), and
  • weekly speech therapy (2.1 miles away).
These little regular trips would add up to at least 35 miles/week in a car (and they add up to more miles than that by bike, because some of these trips have multiple riders).  And recently, for behavior problems, J-son was kicked off the school bus (school is a bit over 6 miles away); all of a sudden the ability to bike is saving us an extra 60-ish miles/week driving back and forth to school.  Plus, there are all the random extra trips -- to a friend's house, to a doctor's appointment. Being able to send kids off on bicycles saves us, I'm figuring, over $5/week in gas alone.

Not only that, but the bikes are time savers for us as parents.  We don't escort the kids ourselves to most places; it's a great amount of freedom to be able to kiss the boys good-bye as they head out the door for their daily boxing lessons, and then sit down to finish a blog post.  No sitting in evening rush-hour traffic for me!

All this is to say, biking matters a lot to us now, for reasons financial and fitness and other.

N-son demonstrates how the hands slide right in. Toasty!
But in winter, getting ready to get on the bike gets more and more convoluted.  We're keeping track of lights, front and rear, because of the darkness.  We're putting on warm clothes.  We continue to keep track of helmets and bike locks, as in the summer.  Keeping track of gloves . . . well, I just don't want to get into the situation where for want of a glove, I had to spend an hour in mall-congested traffic driving my kid to and from school instead of drinking coffee and doing my math.

I got myself a pair of these mitts (or rather, I got the SPDM a pair) in mid-October, and immediately the boys developed a severe case of jealousy.  Which was exactly what I wanted, because that was their birthday present when N-son's birthday rolled around in November.  By the time they unwrapped their gifts, they were all primed to be delighted.  The boys' brand new  Ride-Your-Bikes-all-Winter-Long-Bike-Mitts were a great frugal torture device, disguised as a present. You're welcome, boys!

Questions we've gotten from others:
  • Can you get your hands out quickly if you need to signal?  Yes, no problem.
  • Do they actually keep your hands warm?  Actually, sometimes my hands start getting sweaty.  The nice thing about these compared to regular gloves is that, to cool off, you just take your hands off the handlebars momentarily.  I haven't needed additional gloves yet, although if it gets much colder I might wear gloves under the bar mitts (vah), because the bike handlebars conduct cold fairly well.
  • Can you get your hand back in quickly?  Almost always, yes.  I ordered the largest size just to make entrance and exit easy.  Sometimes if I signal and then have to brake right away, I can't quite get my hand back in in time (that's happened two or three times in as many months). But they're soft enough that even when I didn't get my hand in quickly, I could grab the brakes even through the mitts.
  • Where did you get them?  It's possible to order them online, but I like our local bike shop so much that I had them order the three pairs, and bought the mitts from them.  
  • What does your dog think about them?  He's quite sad about them.  One of his very favorite chew toys is when he discovers yet another pair of new $75 bike gloves that my non-miser husband purchases occasionally, apparently just for the dining pleasure of the dog.  Now the poor dog has nothing fancy to eat.  

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