Save Money By Reassessing Your Daily Commute

by Guest on December 13, 2011

Unless we are unemployed, self-employed, or choose to telecommute, most of us have a physical commute that we undergo daily as we move from our homes, to our place of work, and then back to our homes again. As online calculator can show, the trip back and forth every day can be a costly one – especially if you drive a car. While there are certainly many factors to take into account, a person who commutes 10 miles to work and drives a car with average gas mileage can expect to pay over $200 per month on commute-related costs. This includes primary expenses (gas) as well as more peripheral ones (car maintenance). It does not include the cost of a parking pass at your place of work.

On its own, therefore, your commute can be similar to the cost of a home loan in the long run. For most people, this is simply an accepted fact of life; you need to commute in order to receive your paycheck, after all, and most Americans do not have easy access to mass transit.

That being said, if you’re looking to cut costs and you have the ability to explore other modes of transit, you may want to consider forsaking the car for a more budget-friendly (and environmentally-friendly) means of travel. Here are your options, broken down by cost:

Walk

Cost: Basically Free

This method is the cheapest but it is also highly impractical. Walking to work would require having an office in close proximity to your home, at a distance of no more than a couple miles.

Bike

Cost: About $10/month

A bike requires maintenance just like a car, but these costs are naturally far lower. Furthermore, with proper care, a good bike should last you for many years. While biking can make for both a quick and cheap commute there are some obvious downsides, namely that windy conditions, busy roads, and heavy bags may render this commute less feasible.

Public Transit

Cost: About $75 – $110/per month

Public transit sits right in the middle of our cost spectrum: it is far more expensive than walking or biking and much cheaper than driving a car. While the exact cost depends on your city and on your specific mode of travel (bus, train, tram, etc.), most cities offer unlimited monthly passes that fall in the $100 range. These passes can be cheap and practical if you live and work near transit options. If you don’t, taking advantage of this option poses much more of a challenge.

There’s no doubt that America is an auto-centric society – one where using a car is almost always easier than an alternative – and the number of people who drive their cars to work certainly attest to this fact. But if you’d like to save money, help the environment, or incorporate some exercise into your daily routine, you may want to consider these other options.

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