Time is precious for all of us and often commuters are discouraged when they have to spend obscene amounts of time on the road each day traveling to and from work. Worse, there are costs associated with making these daily commutes to offices.
I’ve had a 2 hour round trip commute for the past 2 years that totals 30 miles each day. Let me break that down for you. I’ll remove approximately 8 weeks for personal time or vacation over the course of these 2 years. Therefore, I’ve spent 96 weeks (104-8) commuting and working. 96 weeks breaks down into 480 work days (96*5) which equals 960 hours (480*2) of commuting.
How do I make the commute without absolutely losing my mind or breaking my budget? 60 miles is a lot of travel time each day and it can wear on your automobile and you. Well, as a cost conscious, time management, efficiency freak, it’s one of the top things of mind. And for these reasons, I feel like I’ve had to learn a lot about commuting in short order.
Commuting tips to save money and time
I’ve tried to give you a mixed bag of my commuting tips I’ve picked up during my 960 hours. Hopefully, they will give you new light on commuting and save money!
I try not to look at my commute as wasted time. Although, in all honesty, there have been a few days of frustration. Rather, I try to keep a positive focus. I’ve been given 10 hours per week, what am I going to do with those 10 hours? 10 hours extra each week would be considered find a gold mine for most people.
Use public transportation or carpool
This is probably the most important tip to saving money and time. After experimenting with both, I’ve come to love the option of public transportation. Dallas doesn’t have an extensive train system, but they do have express buses that shuttle commuters from suburbs to downtown and back through all hours of the day. This has been a breakthrough area for me in time and cost savings. I drive halfway to catch a bus which takes me to my final destination. My 30 miles behind the wheel has now been cut in half because of such public transportation.
While we’re on the subject, look for company assistance with public transportation. If you’re considering a job with a longer commute, try to work this into your employment contract or if already employed, contact your HR department to see if the benefit exists.
Commuter friendly automobile
Drive an automobile that is commuter friendly. I may have decreased my commute distance by taking a bus, but I still have to drive 15 miles each day. I decided to do this in a commuter friendly car instead of a truck or SUV. By commuter friendly, I’m referring to good gas mileage and something that is going to be dependable through stop and go traffic for a long period of time.
Avoid toll highways
I don’t know about your city, but Dallas is covered with toll highways and if you drive on them enough it can easily turn into an extra $100 per month. Therefore, I leave a little bit earlier in the mornings to avoid the extra cost. Sure, it requires me to rise and shine 10 minutes earlier each day, but so what. I’m saving extra money each month that can be applied to more important things.
Use the time to become informed
Claim some of your time back and get educated each day. This is a great option for those who are using public transportation. I’ll read on my bus commute and listen to a podcast while driving. Talk about an efficient use of time. Can you imagine getting educated 10 hours per week while holding down a full-time job and also spending time with family at home? It can be done if you plan your commute right.
Catch up on work
Occasionally, the office day just didn’t allow enough time to wrap everything up that needs to be ready for tomorrow. Having a work laptop, I will occasionally do some off-line email on the bus. Warning: I like to use the commute to refresh my mind, so I try not to make a habit of this. But, depending on your situation, this could be a way to make efficient use of time.
Think, plan or brainstorm
Some days, you just need to stop and think. That’s why commuting time can also be used for brainstorming new ideas. It can be a great time allocated to starting your own business or planning your next blog post! But, you must consciously think about this planning time and make sure it’s used effectively.
Catch up on phone calls
Sometimes there are personal calls I need to catch up on which I can’t do from work and have little time for at home. Therefore, I’ll make my list of calls and phone numbers in advance, put on my head set and make my calls as a I drive home.
Make your lunch and coffee at home
One of the top expenses that burdens a budget for the commuting worker is food and beverage. I make my coffee at home in the morning to resist purchasing coffee. I also take my lunch to work to save $5 – $10 of eating out expenses.
Gas up before leaving your town
If you commute into a city, gas prices are typically more than they are in the surrounding towns. Therefore, make sure you have gas before you leave and avoid filling up on the highway or in the city.
Maybe your commute isn’t as long as mine. However, if you add up the time required for just a 15 minute commute to work and 15 minute commute home (3o minutes per day), over a month, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much time you have on your hands. And if consciously managed well, you can keep your commuter costs down.
Can you think of other tips to help save money and time while commuting to work?