Whether you’re driving to work or using public transportation, your daily commute has a price tag. Here are some simple ways you can save money on your commute.
Carpooling is a great way to save money. When you carpool with colleagues, friends or family, you can rotate drivers and split the cost of gas.
If you don’t have the option to share a ride with someone you know, you can use rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber to share rides with other people traveling in the same direction.
Lyft offers a “Line” while Uber offers a “Pool” in select cities including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, New York and Miami. Find out if Lyft Line or Uber Pool are offered in your city. Both systems work similarly. You share your ride with up to three other passengers who have a similar destination. Since you’re all heading towards the same area, you and the other passengers split the fare equally. If you would normally pay $12 for your ride, by carpooling, you might only pay $3 of the fare.
- Take public transportation.
If you live in an area that has a reliable public transportation system, take advantage of it. Public transportation is a luxury that some people wish they had. If you live far from where you work, taking the bus or train is almost always less expensive than driving to work.
In my case, taking the commuter bus costs $10 per day, round trip. When I drive to work, I have to pay $15 for valet parking. That sounds like just a $5 difference, but that’s before I factor in the cost to fill my gas tank for $30 twice a week. When you do the math, taking the commuter bus saves me about $350 each month. That’s $4,200 of savings each year.
Not to mention, reliable public transportation gives you flexibility for days when you have car trouble or just don’t feel driving.
Public transportation does have its caveats. For example, you can only catch the bus or train at certain times. Or, it might not take you door to door, so you’ll have to walk a few blocks. While that can be inconvenient, having limited access to certain places also prohibits you from leisure spending. When you have to catch the bus immediately after you leave work, you won’t have time to stop and buy a snack or pick up some new shoes. You have to catch that bus!
- Work remotely when possible.
What’s the easiest way to cut cost on your commute? Don’t commute.
If your employer allows you to work from home, telecommute as often as possible. By staying at home, you completely eliminate spending money on your transportation for that day. This is especially helpful if you have an old or unreliable car. The less often you drive your car, the less likely you are to experience car trouble.
- See if your job offers transportation benefits.
If you’re lucky, your employer might pay for your daily commute into work upfront or offer reimbursements later. Alternatively, you may be able to deduct certain transportation costs pretax. In Washington, DC where I work, employers are actually required to offer this benefit.
Check your employee handbook or talk to a human resources representative to learn if transportation benefits are available to you. And if you are eligible for reimbursement for some approved expenses, be sure to save all of your transportation-related receipts.
If your commute to work is one of your daily expenses, be sure to include it in your budget.
5. Walk or bike to work.
If your job is within reasonable distance, you can walk or bike to work. This is a great way to start your day on a healthy note. You’ll be able to exercise and save money on gas. Be sure to wear a helmet for safety if you ride your bike.