We work, in part, to make money, but all the dough we spend getting to and from our jobs can make the trip feel like we're being robbed. Commuting can be stressful enough – the traffic alone could make someone want to put the brakes on their daily travel. But there are ways to save money on your commute that will have you feeling as happy as a dog with his head out the window catching a breeze.
Your commute doesn't have to leave you broke. Use your hard-earned money for more exiting purchases and let your ride be smooth sailing!
Carpooling isn't just for moms and dads taking their kids to soccer practice and Boy Scout meetings. Adults can carpool too, saving money and mileage in the process. Find some co-workers seeking to save just like you who live nearby. They don't even have to work in your office. As long as their workplace is near yours, you can commute together. Not only will this save gas money, but you'll deepen relationships along the journey.
Another plus, HOV lanes! As per The Simple Dollar, "On the days you do drive, you can use the HOV lane for more efficient driving. Even if you're just giving someone a lift each day, it's still worthwhile. If you have a HOV lane available to you, you can now access that lane and drive at a more reasonable pace with substantially less stop-and-go driving."
Not to mention, on those days you're not driving, you can sit back and relax as you're chauffeured to work. That's especially inviting on those mornings you're feeling like you didn't catch enough zzzzs or after a grueling day at the office.
If you can't seem to find anyone to carpool with, no worries. Consider ride sharing to set you up with others seeking a carpool. Via is great for flat rates rather than how long the ride is. Gett is another great option and you can even book up to two weeks in advance - so no excuses for not making use of the service. Duet is a cool one to try - it will set you up with commuters near you and you can even coordinate your rides together. Check out some more ride sharing options via Nerdwallet.
2. Use Public Transportation
If you reside in a community where public transportation is available to you, make use of the trains, busses, and subways regularly. This mode of transport is not only environmentally sound, but it's far cheaper than driving solo to and from work every day.
According to And Then We Saved, "There are costs associated with riding public transportation, but they can be offset by the money you save on gas." While your trip may not be any faster, you can get other things done on the way to and from your place of work. Catch up on reading, peruse the latest headlines, get prepped for a staff meeting, slug through emails, or listen to some tunes.
Using public transport for just a few days per week can add up to significant savings. Some places of business will even reimburse you fully or pay for a portion of your commute. Inquire with your HR department about the Transportation Reimbursement Plan. The Transportation Reimbursement Plan is an employer-sponsored plan which permits you to set money aside on a tax-free basis to reimburse yourself for qualified transportation expenses. Qualified transportation expenses are work-related parking and commuting expenses. As per the details of this plan, "In 2016, the maximum allowable parking benefit is $255 per month and the maximum allowable mass transit/commuter vehicle benefit is $255 per month. The two benefits can be used simultaneously for a total of $510 per month." That's a decent savings over a years' time!
3. Ride a Bike
Get in some heart-healthy exercise, breathe in the fresh air, and save money by biking to work if your job is located within a reasonable biking distance. U.S News & World Report notes, "A number of bikers say peddling past cars stuck in rush hour traffic makes their commute that much more pleasant." As those drivers are frustratingly sitting in all that congestion, you can zip by with a sense of freedom.
Many large cities have bike sharing programs, such as Citi Bike, the nation's largest bike share program. Rates are reasonable - the annual membership is just $14.95/mo with annual commitment (or $155/year if you pay in full). It includes unlimited 45-minute rides. Rides longer than 45 minutes incur extra fees: $2.50 for the first additional 30 minutes, $6.50 for the next additional 30 minutes, then $9 for each additional 30 minutes after that.
If you're located in a smaller town, you can purchase a reasonably priced bike at your local cycling or sports store that will last you for years of precious pedaling. Just be sure to be safe, follow the rules of the road, wear a helmet, and dress appropriately for bike riding.
4. Adjust Your Hours
If it's possible, talk to your boss or supervisor about adjusting your hours so you're not traveling at the height of rush hour. Even a couple of hours' difference (or less) can be a huge time- and money-saver. You will get to work much faster, saving gas in the process. U.S. News & World Report suggests that a different start time could potentially, "cut the time you spend commuting by half."
Another idea is to reduce the number of days per week you go into the office and add a few hours to those days you do work. Not only does this give you a 3-day weekend, but you'll save on travel expenses.