Many people spend around two hours commuting to and from work by car every day. In fact current statistics show that around 11 million Americans spend more than two hours traveling to and from work on a daily basis. A huge number of us, around 600,000, also make longer journeys of at least 50 miles each way that cost us 90 minutes of our day. This has negative repercussions in terms of emotional and financial strain.
The True Cost of Your Commute
In order to reduce commuting costs, it is good to find out what your everyday commute costs. To do this, you need to take seven factors into consideration:
- Gas. The price of gas has gone up and it costs a lot of money to fill up your car tank for a daily commute to and from work. The cost of gas varies depending on journey circumstances such as when driving in and sitting in traffic.
- Insurance. The car you use to commute to work has to be insured. Depending on the model of the car, your age, location and driving record, you can end up paying $50 to $200 in monthly car insurance costs.
- Maintenance. Because of the multiple journeys that your car makes, wear and tear is inevitable. Emergency repairs and regular maintenance of your car should be factored into the overall cost of the commute.
- Lost Time. The time we spent commuting to work could be used to do something productive in our lives and it cannot be recouped.
- Tolls. Many of us pay tolls on our daily commute. Some daily tolls are as high as $6 for crossing from one side to the other. Commuting 5 days a week could cost you around $1,500 a year.
- Parking. Only some employees have access to free parking at work. Many others have to pay for parking near their work place and costs vary but it is around $30 in many places.
- Effect on mental health. Commuting leads to stressed and frustrated commuters. Being held up in traffic and the monotony of having to do the driving again and again leads to people who are unsatisfied, and this is unhealthy for us.
Ways to Reduce Commuting Costs
The high cost of commuting has made people to try and look for ways to reduce commuting costs. There are things we can do to reduce commuting costs:
- Rearrange your work schedule
Ask your employer whether you could arrange your work schedule in order to work from home once or twice a week. This will significantly reduce commuting costs.
- Start a carpool
If you must go to work every day, carpooling can help you reduce commuting costs. Find out whether there is a carpool in your city and join it. You can also find out whether your coworkers that drive to work are interested in a carpool and form one. This can help you reduce commuting costs and allow you to make new friends and make the commute exciting.
- Account for commuting costs
Account for how much you spend in commuting costs everyday including gas and toll charges. Keep all receipts and add up the costs at the end of every month so that you can get an accurate figure of your expenses. This information will help you reduce commuting costs by pinpointing where to save and reorganize your spending.
- Try public transportation
Try public modes of transportation to reduce commuting costs. Depending on what is available locally to you, you could try underground trains or buses. It may not be easy at first, but persevere and try different times and routes until you find what suits you best.
- Break up the commute
Some people can try breaking up the commute so that they can include walking or cycling in it. A bicycle could help you cycle to a bus stop that is far from your house or you could try parking for free or on the streets farther from your office and walking to your work place. Although you will still need time to do this, at least you will avoid sitting for hours and reduce commuting costs.
- Invest in an emergency fund
Build an emergency fund by saving a sum monthly so that in case you have a car problem, the fund can be used for repairs. This will prevent you from using credit cards for emergency repairs as this can bring financial pressures to your life.
- Consider moving closer to work
This may seem like an unrealistic option, but if taken seriously could lead to you finding an affordable home near your workplace.
Commuting to work may seem like something that must be done daily. However, take time to evaluate your commute and help keep all the costs down.