According to CNN Money, workers in the United States spend an average of 200 hours commuting every year, at a cost of nearly $2,600. This works out to spending nearly $10 per day just getting to and from your job, which is supposed to be a way of earning money not losing it. One way to solve this is to be more conscious of your commute and make changes to help improve it. Below are 7 ways you can save the most money on your daily commute.
1. Work odd hours of the day.
The longer you’re sitting in traffic the more gas you burn through, which is simply a waste of money. If you have a job that offers some flexibility with the hours, see if you can come to work a bit earlier or leave later so you can avoid the traditional rush hour traffic times. Take on a different shift and change up your routine to make your drive more efficient. You’ll be able to save money by not sitting in traffic and save time by decreasing your total commuting time.
2. Ask your employer for a gas allowance.
This economy is still recovering from the recent recession and employers aren’t handing out raises like they used to. However, you may still be able to ask for a gas allowance to help reduce your monthly commuting costs.
Your employer will be able to take the cost as a business expense on their tax return, so it’s a win-win for everyone. Many companies use gas credit cards for their employees so ask about getting a card for your gas and maintenance expenses. Make the case to your boss, as it never hurts to ask.
3. Find alternatives to driving.
It may sound like well-known advice, but changing up how you get to work everyday can have a big impact on your wallet. It may be time to embrace other alternatives to commuting to work versus always driving in a car. Consider these other options:
Carpool - Find a friend or colleague and carpool to work together. You’ll be able to use the HOV lane for faster and more efficient driving. Not only will this save you gas money, and avoid excess wear and tear on your car but it’s better for the environment too.
Public transit - Public transportation often gets a bad rap but with many cities overhauling their buses and light rail systems, it’s actually a very nice option these days. You can even listen to your favorite podcast or audiobook (or catch a Pokemon!) while on public transit.
Cycle - Purchasing a bike can be done for less than $100 on Craigslist but it can save you hundreds of dollars in gas money, car maintenance and parking fees. You may not be able to ride your bike to work year-round but it will be cost effective during the nice weather months, and help you get in better shape.
Walk - Finally, if you live close enough to your work, consider walking there a few times a week. Sometimes it may be more convenient to take your car but work in some days where you can walk, take in the fresh air and enjoy not being stuck in traffic.
4. Fill up with the cheapest gas.
There are many mobile apps that will help you locate the cheapest gas in your area. One of the most popular ones is GasBuddy which searches for, and sorts, the lowest-priced gas stations near you, and is continuously being updated. It will also let you know the average price you’ll pay at the pump as well as any upcoming trends, so you can stock up if needed.
In addition, don’t forget to review your owner’s manual to verify the type of gas you should be putting in your car. If you’re able to use the lowest octane option, which is usually the cheapest, there’s no reason to go for the premium fill up.
5. Change your driving habits.
Practice becoming a better and safer driver. Not only will it help you avoid accidents, good driving habits will put less wear and tear on your vehicle. Excessive braking and accelerating can put unnecessary stress on your car, and on you as well. Slow down, pay attention and not only will you become a better, less stressful driver, you’ll be able to save money by being more fuel-efficient. And your car will thank you for it.
6. Offer to telecommute.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, working from home just two days a week can reduce your community costs by as much as 40% per year. More and more employers are opening up to the idea of their employees telecommuting because it reduces the company’s operating costs and allows their workers to be more productive. Talk to your boss about the possibility of working from home one or two days a week as a way of reducing everyone’s overhead.
7. Consider moving to minimize your commute.
If you’re tired of wasting time and money on your commute, consider doing something more drastic and moving to a new location to minimize costs. This can be as simple as moving across town to be within walking distance of your office, or moving across the country to find a job that pays more, offers better perks and doesn’t have a commute.
This may not be at the top of your list, but there’s a case to be made for saving several hundreds of dollars each month because you no longer have to fill up your car with gas, or spend hours and hours in traffic. Measure your stress level along with your budget to determine if moving is a good idea to minimize your commute.