|7 ways to slash commuting costs
If your employer doesn't deal with carpools and the
town Web site is no help, CarpoolConnect.com
will connect you to other commuters in your area. The site works
through search functions and message boards. Plug in your starting
ZIP code and your destination ZIP code and see what you find. A
recent search found people looking for rides to the train station,
rides to work and rides home on a certain day of the week.
Check out the bus and train routes that could possibly take
you to work. The routes may be more convenient than the last time
you checked. Be sure to ask about multiple-ride discount cards,
monthly passes and any other deals for riders.
If you usually pay for parking by the hour, you'll
find that taking the bus or train will save you more. When you take
the bus or train, you can stay late for the same price.
Map out the cheapest driving
If you must drive every day, you can still investigate savings
possibilities. With tolls rising, it pays to spend some time figuring
out if the route you take is the cheapest one. Altering your path
from major, clogged highways to side roads can easily save serious
Rachel Traum of New York was stunned to discover that
a simple change in route netted her $400 in annual savings.
Check out employer incentives
You may be able to get discounted bus or train passes through
your employer. Sometimes, it's a little-advertised perk that can
save you $20 to $40 per month. And because employers may qualify
for discounts and grants from municipalities or local environmental
groups if they have a large number of employees biking to work or
car pooling, they may offer incentives to help you get started.
Ditch your commute altogether
If you don't commute at all, you may save big, telecommuters
"I took a sales job where I could work out of
my house and eliminated my commute entirely," says Tim Leffel
of Nashville, Tenn. "Once or twice a month I go see clients,
but otherwise it takes me two weeks to use up a tank of gas. One
unanticipated benefit of this is I spend less gas running errands,
"I've probably saved an average of $40 per month
on gas, plus there's less wear and tear on my car," he says.
"Since I don't have to show up at an office every day, I also
spend very little on new clothes and shoes, so figure another $50
a month there. Probably save at least $20 to $30 on food since I'm
not tempted to go out to lunch as much."
Finally, Leffel's insurance went down $240 per year.
While you may not be able to eliminate your
commute entirely, with careful planning and a little creativity,
you may be able to reduce some of the cost.