|7 ways to slash commuting costs
Every morning, you take the same
route to work. Every day it costs you $10 or more for parking, gas
and tolls. And that doesn't even count expenses like insurance and
Given the way fuel prices and tolls have risen, maybe
it's time to re-evaluate your daily commute.
Changing how you get to your job can create more breathing
room in your budget -- from gas savings to insurance reductions
to reduced wear on the car.
"After spending $100 one week last summer on
gas for my 2000 Nissan Xterra, I plunked down the money for a small
used Honda scooter," says Shana Smith of Eugene, Ore.
"My gas bill went from $100 to $2.80 in one week,"
Smith says. "I find that I only need to fill up the Nissan
Xterra about every three weeks. I don't live far from work, and
the ride is beautiful. Yipppeeee!"
The used scooter cost Smith $675, and it paid for
itself in a few weeks. "I ride about six miles to work one
way," she says. "If the weather's crappy, I take the car.
I live up in the hills, and it's not worth the risk during inclement
Gas is merely the beginning. People who use their cars less
in their commutes may be able to save on insurance.
"I regularly walk and bike to work and class,
and so does my partner," says Maria Stadtmueller of Iowa City,
Iowa. "We have a car -- a Honda Civic -- but are able to get
lower car insurance because we keep our mileage low. We also save
wear and tear on the car and gas dollars.
"Then there's the price we all pay for oil drilling,
pollution and global warming, not to mention that if I didn't get
the exercise I'd have to spend money on bigger pants," Stadtmueller
Insurance savings are possible, but not guaranteed,
says Mike Gould, an independent insurance agent with Advanced Insurance
Services Inc., of North Liberty, Iowa.
Driving your car less may or may not result in a lower
rate, says Gould.
"It's really a regional issue," Gould says.
"Here in Iowa, the story is that some carriers will have one
rate for commuting, one for carpooling and one for pleasure only.
The trend is to find other factors besides annual driving distance
-- like your credit profile, which is increasingly important."
The policy on annual mileage varies by company, he
says, so comparison shopping matters in this case.
"More and more, I'm seeing companies look less
at commuting distance and more at prior losses," he says. "With
some companies, though, driving fewer miles would mean a lower price."
Consumers can call their current insurers and see
what a commuting change will mean in terms of price, he says. Then,
Gould suggests, they can have an independent insurance agent plug
in a lower-mileage scenario to a variety of companies and see if
a better price is available. A lower rate is a possibility, especially
in New Jersey and other states with high insurance rates, he says.