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7 ways to slash commuting costs
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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.

Go public
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 route
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 dollars.

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 say.

"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, as well.

"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.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Updated: April 20, 2006
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