This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
I have friends that live in the far suburbs, and spend quite a bit of time in their cars. They each drive seperate cars far away to work in the morning after dropping their kids off for school in a different direction, drive far for groceries, etc. Financially they just get by every month, and going grocery shopping with them at a big box store is a significantly different experience than going shopping with my wife at Trader Joe’s or the Met (both an easy walk from our house). I never thought twice about this difference – they make less than us and have more kids, and I’ve certainly had to make due with simple and cheap groceries at different points in my life. But today I saw this graph:
Notice the size of the food wedge next to the transportation wedge for the average American family. Pinching pennies on large blocks of low-quality cheese is less effective than just driving a bit less. If they had only settled for a smaller home (for the same price) in a dense area, it would have had a much larger effect than years and years of choosing low-quality food. I know people love their yards. But I don’t think most people realize they’re making a choice between more yard space and, well, everything else in the world they love but costs money.