#21 I Almost Enjoy My 2 Hour Commute (“Car College”)


Yep, that’s my drive. I’m usually in that 3rd lane from the left (right next to the double white line). I75/I85 Southbound, 9 Lanes wide, right through the heart of Atlanta. 50 minutes in the morning, 90 minutes on the way home.

I drive it.
Every day.

“You poor sucker”, you say to yourself. I can honestly say I almost enjoy it, though that hasn’t always been the case.

When I first moved to Atlanta 5 1/2 years ago, I went absolutely crazy over the commute. I tried every possible alternative route. I timed various departure times. I tried rapid transit. I considered van pooling. I gritted my teeth. I stressed. I complained. Nothing changed.

Realizing I would never change the traffic in Atlanta, I had a decision to make. I was unwilling to move, as my family enjoyed…..

….being “out in the country” with 6 acres for our animals
….several thousand acres of woods around our house
….miles of empty walking trails
….a church 1 mile up the road that we loved
….family friends, and
….a wonderful life for my wife and daughter away from the city hustle.

When we moved to Atlanta in 2009, we made an intentional trade off to move out to the country and endure the commute. From a financial and family lifestyle perspective, it made perfect sense. I knew the commute was my tradeoff. Now, I was living the reality of that decision, and not enjoying it very much.

So, I had to find a way to change my attitude.

Enter: PODCASTS (screen shot of my phone – podcast icon circled in red)

screen shot

What a wonderful technological development. I, like most, was unclear on what podcasts were all about. I took some time to figure it out, and have loved them ever since. Accessing podcasts is easy; just search for and install the podcast app on your phone, then use that to access the online library containing literally thousands of podcasts. Click on ones that sound interesting, and you’re on your way.

Below is the current list of my Top 9 podcasts (I have many more that wouldn’t fit on the screen shot).


I’ve probably listened to 40 different podcasts. As I listen, I find things that interest me, whittle down the list to my favorites and “subscribe”. “Subscribing” simply entails clicking on a button on that particular podcast, which results in every new podcast being automatically downloaded to your phone whenever a new recording is available. Most publish a new podcast weekly.

The beauty of podcasts is the breadth of topics available. Currently, likely driven by my new blog, my focus is on business, personal finance, with a few random/interesting/thought provoking shows mixed in. Over the past two years, I’ve listened to a mix of:

– Sermons
– Survival shows
– Ted Talks
– Self improvement shows
– Comedy
– Mysteries
– History

The list of available topics is, in reality, almost endless.

Car College

The thing I LOVE about podcasts is how it utilizes what was “dead” time in my life, and fills it with self education on topics of interest. I now “learn” for over 2 hours a day, which is probably comparable to some college students.

For free.

On any topic of my choosing.

Without commercials*.


* some podcasts contain short commercials in the audio as a means of generating a bit of revenue for the host, but they tend to be very short and related to the topic. MUCH more endurable than trying to listen to a radio with it’s endless stream of advertising. I haven’t listened to my radio in over 2 years.

If you’re interested in “continuing education” (and, shame on you if you’re not), consider Podcasts. Attend “Car College”, fill your time with thought provoking and educational commentary. Your “mindless” drive suddenly becomes an engaging, interesting and thought provoking exercise in knowledge growth. I’m not alone in this perspective. I’ve talked to others, and everyone I’ve talked to that’s tried them, love them.

How much have I learned about Personal Financial Planning via podcasts? It would be hard to quantify, but let’s say I’ve spent 2 hours a day, 5 days/week, for two years. Assume I listen to financial podcasts 70% of the time, deduct 25% for my business travel (tho I still listen to podcasts for ~30 minutes/day on the road), and throw in some vacation. By my math, over the past years, I’ve spent a total of….

504 HOURS, or 21 Days

….gaining personal education in this critical area. Perhaps I’m getting close to an MBA in my Car College Curriculum. Based on things I’ve learned while listening, I’ve made changes in my investments, developed a 5 year retirement plan, implemented cost saving ideas, had good discussions with my wife about podcast content, started this blog, etc. etc.

Value? Priceless.
Cost? Free.

If you’ve never listened to a podcast, give it a try. It may just change your life (or at least your commute!).


    1. Welcome to The Retirement Manifesto, Rob The Nomad! Thanks for your comment, and I’m most pleased with the return my MBA program has provided. Tee Hee.

  1. I remember that particular commute well, though it’s been 15 years since I went to school in downtown and commuted from decauter. We moved about three years to be closer to work so my commutes now about 5 mins. But back in the day I use to mix and match between foreign language learning tapes and music.

    1. 5 Min commute in Atlanta!! Wow! (Tho gotta say, now that we’ve sold our house and I have a “city apartment”, I have a 5 minute WALK!!) Too bad my house is 2+ hour away in the wonderful N. Ga mountains of Blue Ridge! 18 more months, and I’ll be there for good! Thanks for your comment!

  2. Love your attitude (or change of attitude) on this subject. My commute is not nearly this severe, but I still have 1+ hr a day to pass the time. Like you, I’ve done podcasts galore. I also listen to public radio and the various long-form stories they do. I tried morning radio early on, but found my IQ slipping with each passing moment so had to do something different. 🙂

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. MM, nice to see you on my site!! I did that miserable commute for 6 years. Earlier this year, we sold our house and moved to our cabin in the mountains, 100 miles away. Now, I drive into the city on Monday morning and stay at a small apartment only 2 blocks from the office during weeknights. It’s a nice “bridge strategy” to our retirement in <2 years! And yes, I still listen to podcasts during my 100 mile commute on Mondays and Thursdays!

  3. Agreed, podcasts are a great way to learn more… for free… about whatever we find interesting at the time.

    Best of luck with the living away during the week, saves loads of time commuting but can be brutal on a marriage. Enjoy counting down the sleeps to retirement, and thanks for writing such an entertaining blog.

  4. The ironic part of this comment is that I found your site by listening to the Choose FI podcast. Which was great by the way. I also have a long commute but luckily I don’t have to drive. I split my time on the train between listening, reading and writing.

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