Plug that Leak In Your Wallet: Tips to Save Money on Your Commute

Have you taken a good look at your expenses lately? Specifically, do you have any idea of the real cost of your commute to work? As you can tell, this article is all about the cost of you driving your personal automobile to work each day. Along the way, we’ll take a look at some tips and strategies to lower this expense.

Why It Matters

First, some background stuff. Of course, all the smart readers here know full well that commuting expenses are a drain on your wallet, sometimes more than ever anticipated. Worst of all, every dollar you spend on your commute is a dollar that’s not working for you in your investment account.

It’s not just the price of fuel, although that certainly is a big piece of the pie. Consider, just in fuel costs alone, your commuting costs have almost doubled in the last decade, but it doesn’t stop there, as you already know. There are the insurance costs, the scheduled maintenance costs, and the parts that wear out and must be replaced like your tires and brakes and more.

Of course, there seems to always be something that breaks at the worst possible time, like during the middle of the week on your way to work when your credit cards are maxed out and your checking account is barely alive. With all of that in mind, many savvy commuters are looking to new strategies to save on commuting expenses.

Work Time

Is there any flexibility in your work schedule? This could work in a couple of ways. First, what about the time you have to be there? Do you have to be there at 9:00 am like everyone else on the expressway? You know darned well every minute you are stuck in traffic the dollar bills are oozing out your exhaust pipe. Automobiles really suck down the gas when you are stuck in idle just creeping along. If you could get there at 10:00 am or even 8:00 am, you get to skip the rush hour. You will save money on fuel and your attitude may even be a bit more upbeat.

Days In?

Speaking of schedule flexibility, what about the weekly schedule? Do you really need to be in the office five full days a week? With the technology available today perhaps that work model is well past its prime. Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends of course on the type of work you do. Still, it’s certainly worth your time to investigate this as an option.

Telecommute?

Related to schedule flexibility, have you thought about telecommuting? You know, like you come in the office one or two days a week. The remainder of the time, you work from home. Once again, this completely depends on your employer and your job function.

What about the Carpool?

Yes, a carpool can save you some money. You usually split the fuel costs after all. If you can hook up with some car pool groups in your area, it’s certainly worth a look-see.

Now, you will notice that all of the above options assume you still are driving to work. Hey, that’s okay. This is America after all, where everyone likes the freedom of hopping in the car and just going wherever they want. Yet, if all you are doing is sitting on the expressway stuck in traffic at the beginning and end of each day, perhaps you may want to consider other choices.

Can Mass Transit Work for You?

If available in your area, mass transit can save you a small fortune ever year. Depending on where you live, you can even get some work done or personal reading or studying done on the way. That being said, mass transit does come at another cost: your time. Mass transit can take a bit longer if you are waiting for the train or the bus.

A Green Choice?

No, not the Green line going downtown, green as in environmentally friendly. You ever heard the phrase “bike to work”? Well why not? Especially in times of good to fantastic weather, your bike can be a great option (assuming you live close enough). Not only that, many cities throughout the country are adding in bike lanes and promoting the use of bikes. Bike sharing programs are springing up in major cities so you could have it both ways. Ride with your carpool buds to work, hop on a bike share rental and cruise down to the riverfront for dinner and have your spouse meet you there.

Bottom Line

Recognize that your commuting costs are an expense that you will never get back. Every dollar spent is a dollar not working towards your financial goals. Consider some of the strategies above. Your wallet will thank you.

What about You?

Now, it’s your turn. What’s your spin on commuting costs? What do you do, if anything, to save money when it comes to your commute?

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