Commuting is no fun. With elevated gas prices, cutting costs on this part of the day has become more of a priority than ever. Whether your commute is 20 minutes or an hour, you’re probably interested in learning more about ways you can save money and stretch your budget with some commuting tips. Here are some of the top ideas on how to save money on your commute to work each day.
Look at Current Spending Habits
Before you start trying to do everything at once, evaluate what portion of your budget the commute you take each day is eating up. Sometimes there are other things you can cut back on as well as your commute, as you work toward an overall healthier approach to budgeting.
“I remember when I went to analyze how I could cut my commute cost and was shocked by the things I saw on my monthly expense list,” says Dan Potter, Head of Digital at CRAFTD London. “I forgot how much some of my subscriptions were that I barely use, and then there were some that I didn’t even remember I still paid. Cutting your commute cost and some other things out of your budget all at the same time can be a great way to learn about your budget and make sure you’re spending wisely.”
Take a Fuel- and Cost-Efficient Route
Depending on where you live, there may be a route that costs less than others. If there’s a fuel-efficient route available, that can sometimes save you some money. Then there’s the consideration of toll roads. Is it more expensive to use extra fuel to avoid them, or do they cost you more than it’s worth?
“Do some research into alternative routes,” says Sean Doherty, General Manager of Box Genie. “Even if you have a relatively short commute, there may be a way to cut time idling out of your commute by avoiding congested areas, certain traffic lights, or train tracks that can cause delays. Other things to consider are toll passes or express lanes. Some cities have routes that keep you moving and save you time, but you’ll need to weigh the cost and decide if it’s worth saving a few minutes and a bit of gas. Most of the time, they’re still much more expensive than finding an alternate route.”
Reduce Your Load
Are you someone who tends to keep your life in your car? A car cleanout is a great way to increase fuel economy by decreasing the load in your car. You’d be surprised just how much your stuff can weigh and the difference it makes. With gas prices as they are, every drop of fuel equals savings.
“While you might not think your trunk is the culprit of your gas-guzzling, you could be wrong,” says Miles Beckett, CEO and Co-founder of Flossy Dental. “This can be hard if you’re the designated kid shuffler and frequently transport heavy sports equipment or extracurricular items, but decreasing the load when you can will help you save on fuel and save money on your commute to work.”
Carpool With Coworkers
You’re probably not the only one looking to cut costs! Look around your office for a carpooling buddy and see if there’s a way you could save money on your commute to work by carpooling with a friend. You may be surprised to find out who lives near you!
“I think a lot of people forget that carpooling is an option these days,” says David Culpepper, MD, Clinical Director of LifeMD. “We’re so quick to call an Uber when we need a ride that we forget our coworkers also drive to work. Ask around and see if anyone who follows a similar route would be interested in carpooling. Even if you’re only able to do it a few times per week, that’s money in both of your pockets!”
Look for Other Carpooling Options
Many cities are now offering carpooling groups and parking lots for people to utilize as meeting points. If your city has a carpooling organization, you could explore what this would look like for you. Often, there are designated meeting points for people carpooling, so you have a safe place to leave your car. Other times, you may be communicating through social media by locating carpooling groups on the platform to arrange transportation.
“Carpooling is an often forgotten option for commuting,” says Max Schwartzapfel, CMO of Fighting For You. “There are apps and pages on social media dedicated to finding carpooling buddies. This is especially helpful if you’re carpooling a good distance or through city traffic where your gas mileage is a lot higher than you’d like for one person.”
Take Public Transportation
If you live in an area with public transportation, this might be a great option for you! Taking a bus, train, or subway to work can be a great way to cut costs for your commute to work. Most public transportation options offer monthly passes or bundles that can save you money too.
“While it can take a bit longer to get from point A to point B, public transportation is a great way to save money on your commute to work,” says Drew Sherman, VP of Marketing at RPM Freight Systems. “The biggest complaint people have is the extra time it typically takes to commute, but it can be a great time to prep for the day or unwind after work. Put a positive spin on taking public transportation and find a book to read or a podcast to listen to and make it part of your self-care routine.”
Avoid Stopping for Food
This can be very tricky if you’re someone who travels a lot or has a stressful job, but stopping for food can be a major contributor to your commute budget. Even stopping for a snack and drink after work at a drive-through twice a week can add upwards of $100 per month. Skip the snack stops by fueling your body well throughout the day.
“It’s so easy to swing through a driveway or stop at a convenience store for something to eat if you have a long commute,” says Asker A Ahmed, Director of iProcess Global Research. “You smell those fries or think about having that energy drink, and it’s like there’s a magnetic force pulling you in. If you’re eating well throughout the day, you’ll probably be less tempted to stop. If you’re someone who needs something to munch on while you drive, try packing healthy snacks and drinks to have for your commute home in the afternoon too. If all else fails, some banks are helping people kick their poor spending habits by allowing them to block purchases at specific locations or certain times to help them develop better habits.”
Cut the Coffee Stop
That morning coffee or drink can be just as dangerous as those afternoon snack stops. Many coffee chains are going to charge upwards of $5 or more for your favorite drink. If you’re doing this every day, you could end up spending well over $100 per month on beverages alone. Making your coffee at home can help you save money and time on your commute.”
“Not only do the coffee stops rack up charges at an alarming rate, but every minute you spend sitting in a drive-thru wastes gas, too,” says Baris Zeren, CEO of BookYourData. “Even if you’re going inside to purchase your favorite morning pick-me-up, you’re still spending a lot of time buying a drink you could make for a lot less at home. There are tons of dupe recipes online for you to make your favorite coffee chain drinks at home. If you just hate making coffee in the morning, investing in a coffee pot with an automatic timer could help you out.”
Purchase a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle
If you’re really committed to spending as little money as possible on the commute itself but have a budget to purchase a new vehicle, looking into more fuel-efficient options might be something to explore. If your current ride is a big SUV or gas-guzzling older model, it might be time to think about trading in your current car or even purchasing a second car for commuting.
“Fuel efficiency doesn’t mean you have to buy a new hybrid or electric vehicle,” says Sasha Ramani, Associate Director of Corporate Strategy at MPOWER Financing. “But if you’re driving something that’s older, heavier, and larger than you need it to be, a new car might be something that could save you money on your commute. Smaller sedans often cost a fraction of what an SUV or truck would run, so you’d save on monthly payments, insurance costs, taxes, and fuel. Look into your current gas and vehicle budget and explore what that would look like if you swapped your current ride out for something smaller and more fuel efficient.”
Avoid Rush Hours
Avoiding rush hour might not be entirely possible depending on where you live, but it’s worth exploring. If you don’t have to get the kids on the bus or handle any other morning duties, leaving early for work to avoid the rush hour traffic could help you avoid fuel costs incurred by sitting in traffic.
“It’s honestly shocking how much fuel you use when you’re sitting in traffic,’ says Shaunak Amin, CEO and Co-Founder of SwagMagic. “Even if your car turns off when you’re idling, the slower speed of rush hour traffic tanks your gas mileage. Leaving for work half an hour or even an hour earlier might seem like a waste of time, but it can save you a lot on your gas bill if you’re typically sitting in traffic for longer periods of time. Use that extra time when you arrive at work to read a book or enjoy your coffee before starting the day.”
Having a budget for commuting to work is a necessary evil. It always seems to cost more than we’d like it to – especially with current gas prices. The tips and tricks above are great options to look into as you explore how to save money on your commute to work each day. Remember, learning about your current budget is the first step. After that, it’ll be easier to see which of these tips might help you out the most.