For most of us, the commute to work is something that can’t be avoided. Commutes are a drain on both your time and money. Whether your commute is 10 minutes or two hours, here are some tips that can help you save money.
Buddy up and avoid driving every day. It’s good for your wallet and the environment. On the days that it’s your turn to drive (if you are using major highways), utilize the HOV lanes for more efficient driving.
2. Car maintenance
Having your car properly tuned will help save on gasoline costs. Proper tire pressure, new air filters and regular oil changes will keep your car running smoothly and burning gas efficiently.
3. Public transportation
Utilize public transportation whenever you can. There are costs associated with riding public transportation. but they can be offset by the money you save on gas. It’s also helpful to the environment, and by letting someone else drive you to work, you are able to utilize your time better by catching up on emails, making business calls, or just relaxing and reading a book.
4. Traffic patterns
The longer you sit idling in traffic, the more gas you burn, and wasted gas is wasted money. Know alternative routes to and from your job so you can avoid heavily congested areas and accidents, while cutting down on your commuting time.
5. Use Cheap Gas
Read your owners manual and find out what kind of fuel is recommended for your car. If you can get away with using the lowest octane (usually the cheapest), there is no reason to fill up with premium. It’s wasted money.
6. Avoid extra weight
Avoid driving around with a lot of extra weight in your trunk. The lighter your car, the better the gas mileage. Do a clean-out once a month to be sure you aren’t hauling extra gear.
7. Skip the warm-up
On cold winter days, avoid the warm-up stage of your commute. Modern cars don’t benefit from an extensive warm up. Yes, a toasty car is nice, but a prolonged warm-up wastes gas and dumps extra emissions into the environment. In addition, many states and communities have enacted ordinances against the practice, so you could wind up with a ticket if caught.
8. Green cars
When purchasing a car, carefully consider the car’s fuel efficiency and consider buying a hybrid or a vehicle that runs on an alternative fuel source such as bio-diesel or natural gas.
9. Minimize AC Usage
Use your AC sparingly. It’s a gas hog and will suck the tank dry in no time. If you are cruising under 60 mph, open your windows to cool down. Speeds over 60mph create excessive wind drag, so it’s better to turn on the AC at those points.
10. Strive to be a Better Driver
Knowing how to drive properly will help you save gas and wear and tear on your car. Excessive breaking and acceleration will reduce your fuel efficiency, as will driving over the speed limit. Accelerate slowly out of stops and avoid stopping and starting by using your brakes more efficiently and gradually coming to a halt. (Avoid extensive idling as well.)
11. Maximize time
Bundle any errands with your commute home to avoid multiple trips and wasting fuel and time.
12. iPhone apps
There are many phone apps available that can help you save money by telling you which gas stations in your area have the cheapest gas, or which roads are congested with traffic.
As with everything in life, knowledge is key. Wake up a few minutes early to catch the traffic report on the news to help avoid any delays so you aren’t sitting in traffic burning gas and wasting time.
14. Plan where you live
If at all possible, live as close to work as you can to cut down on commuting costs. This isn’t always feasible, but if you are planning on moving and like the location of your company, consider this option. Also, consider the length of your commute before moving out to the burbs.
15. Coffee stop
Avoid the ritual stop for coffee when commuting. (We all know that a daily Starbucks run is murder on a budget.)
16. Employee assistance
Many companies are starting to offer incentives to employees that include public transportation. Check and see if your employer will help offset the cost of bus, subway and light rail passes.
17. Ride a Bike
Get healthy, save some money and help the environment by busting out the bicycle and cycling to work a couple of times a week.
The best way to save on your commute is by not commuting at all. If your job allows it, try to work from home as often as you can.
If your job is within walking distance, skip the car and public transportation and walk to work. It’s a great way to get a low impact workout in.
20. Save on Gas
A lot of grocery stores have programs in place that allow you to accumulate points that can be used at gas stations and will give you a few cents off a gallon. A few cents may not seem like much, but over time the savings will add up. Paid member groups such as Sam’s Club or Costco sometimes have stations with cheaper-than-average gas.
21. Work hours
If your job is flexible, try changing your work hours to avoid rush hour traffic. Even 30 minutes can make a huge difference.
22. Get educated
Make the most of your commute and the hours spent in your car by getting smarter. Listen to books on CD, educational podcasts, or start learning a foreign language. (Be sure to get your CDs at the library.)
Having to pay for parking means that your car is costing you money even when it’s not moving. If you are paying a hefty price tag simply for the pleasure of parking closer to work, consider parking further away where it’s free.
24. Toll Roads
Avoid toll roads if at all possible. Even small daily tolls will add up over time, plus if you don’t have an EZ pass, you’ll burn even more time stopping at tollbooths, which can be congested.
25. Use your time wisely
Rather than sitting angrily in traffic, start enjoying your commute. Listen to your favorite music, or enjoy some talk radio or a podcast. There isn’t much you can do when stuck in traffic or driving, but try to change your mindset and start getting whatever enjoyment you can out of it. It won’t really save you money, but it will help save your sanity.
What tips do you have to save money on your commute?