When it comes to those core expenses of ours that are regularly incurred, few costs are more frustrating than those associated with the daily commute.
It’s not too difficult to figure out why.
Unless your employer covers your train pass or you work from home, there’s a good chance that a hefty percentage of your travel, gas, and car maintenance fees are tied up in the trek you make to work in the morning and then back home in the evening.
Middle East political tensions and instabilities only threaten to push gas prices higher this summer, a move that would undoubtedly affect commute budgets for millions of people.
How can you save some money and cut down on the cost of your commute? Here are a few ideas:
1. Switch your commuting times — Billions of dollars are wasted every year by commuters who are stuck sitting in stop-and-go traffic.
You can reduce your wasted gas expense – and save yourself some time – by trying to plan your commute outside of regular “rush hour” periods.
2. Reduce peripheral car costs — Commuting to work in your car doesn’t just cost you gas; it also adds mileage to your vehicle and incurs regular maintenance costs in the process.
While these maintenance costs can’t be eliminated, there are other peripheral costs that can probably be cut back, such as by seeking out car insurance that provides minimum coverage.
3. Take public transit — By most estimations, the cost of commuting via public transit (around $80-$100 per month) is cheaper than driving a car every day (over $200).
Even if transit options aren’t conveniently located near your home and your office, taking the bus or train even one day a week can translate into savings in the long run.
4. Run or bike to work — Turning your commute into a workout is probably the optimal way to maximize your fitness while minimizing your costs.
As with taking public transit, biking to work even one day away can amount to long-term savings.
5. Telecommute when possible — Thanks to technology, today’s workforce is more mobile than ever before, and some people are just as capable of getting their job done at home as in the office.
If this applies to your profession, taking the occasional out-of-the-office day can allow your car to sit in the driveway and save you a commute – and some money.
6. Research before you fill-up — Not all gas stations are created alike, and a place near your home or your office may offer lower gas prices than you normally pay.
Use a site such as GasBuddy.com to determine the best gas prices near you.
7. Know traffic conditions — People are creatures of habit, and nothing fits better into a standard routine than does a daily commute.
Perhaps this is why commuters often take the same route to work day in and day out – even if there is bad traffic or an accident along the way.
Knowing the traffic conditions and planning accordingly can save you both time and money.
8. Carpool — Joining a carpool can translate into immediate commute savings.
Not only will your gas costs quickly get cut in half, but you can also incur less mileage on your car and, in some metropolitan areas, drive in high-occupancy lanes that promise to make your commute far more time and gas-efficient.
9. Use fast lanes — Some cities offer priority lanes that are reserved for those willing to pay a membership, charge, or toll.
While using such lanes will saddle you with an upfront cost, the time savings they bring you may ultimately reduce your commute expense in the long run.
10. Budget more time — Research has shown that people waste gas more when they are in a hurry.
They accelerate quickly, brake suddenly, and generally drive in a less efficient manner.
Budgeting more time for your daily commute can help alleviate this stress and make your drive less wasteful.
Following these 10 tips can hopefully result in some discernible commute savings.
Even if these reductions seem small, or even if you are only able to employ these tips once a week, don’t forget that commute costs – and savings – add up quickly in the long run.