Everyone has to get to work somehow, right?
Personally, I have a rather lengthy commute. Every morning I walk 3 minutes to the bus stop, get on the bus, and ride 40-45 minutes to work. After work, I have to take two buses to get home, and that usually takes about an hour. Yep,
I Take The Bus
This is never the most popular option for getting to work. A lot of people would rather drive themselves, as it is much faster, more convenient, and holds more empty coffee cups. I don’t own a car. That makes taking the bus a more practical solution, but even if I did own a vehicle, I would still take the bus to save money. How much would I save?
- I would save on parking ($10-15/day, $150-250/month)
- I would save on gas ($5-10/day, $100-200/month)
- I would save on insurance (?)
So I take the bus. In Vancouver, the city is split into “zones”, each zone requires a different type of ticket or pass depending on how many zones you are crossing. I live on the North Shore and I work in Vancouver, so I have to get a two zone pass. On daily basis, that would mean (at minimum) paying for two 2-zone tickets, which are $3.75 each. So $7.50 a day, $39.50/week, or about $160 a month. That does not include going out to get groceries, pick up fiancée from work, go out for dinner, get back to the office early, etc.
Instead, I pay $99/month for a 2-zone pass, which brings my daily commute costs to less than $5 – before I take off the additional pass usage.
Now, I realize taking the bus isn’t the most practical solution for a lot of you. Here are some other options for you to consider saving money on your commute
Telecommuting, working from home, or starting your own business has become a popular option to reduce commuting time. With the technology that is available, telecommuting and working from home is becoming a reality in many people’s lives. Its touted as a great way to stay green (lowers carbon emissions), improve efficiency (less distractions), and improve morale (no more dealing with office gossip!).
Further Reading: 20 Essential Tips for Telecommuting
Don’t have a plush office job that allows for telecommuting? Me neither. How about you think about quitting your job and starting a home business? Before you pull the trigger you will want to spend a lot of time considering your options to determine if it is right for you, what businesses are feasible, work up a few business models, test them as side businesses, and go from there. But if your dream is to stay at home sipping tea while creating an online empire, then your commute could be from the bed to the couch!
Potential Savings: $ everything
How far away is your office? Is it within walking distance? For most of us, probably not. When I was in college, I had a couple of jobs that were all within walking distance. Its definitely not the most pleasant way to get to work, especially in the winter in Abbotsford, where everything is cold and slushy, so you’re soaked by the time you get to work.
But hey, if you want to get some exercise (30 mins a day…), some sunshine (in the summer at least), try to walk to your office one day this weekend and see how long it takes you. Its probably not as bad as you think. Just wear a light backpack with some water and a fresh shirt (fresh socks too, nothing refreshes you quite like a nice pair of clean socks) and try walking to work.
Further Reading: Top Ten Reasons to Walk to Work
Where I currently live, it would probably take me about 2.5 hours to walk to work. Oh, and once I got there, I’d spend the next 6 walking around. Walking to work isn’t the best option for me – what about you?
Potential Savings: $ everything but time
Office to far away to walk to? Have you considered biking to work? Chances are, you probably have an old bike lying around. If not, one of your friends, neighbors, or coworkers might. Give biking to work a try.
The wonderful thing about biking is that you can go as slow as you need to. You don’t have to show up at work all sweaty and exhausted (unless you woke up 15 minutes before you’re supposed to be there…). Chances are, most of the summer you could leisurely bike to your work without breaking much of a sweat. And hey, if you live at the top of a hill, it’ll be even easier.
Further Reading: Bike to Work, Five Ways to Make Bike Commuting Easy
Biking to work is a feasible idea for a lot more people than most realize. Its really not that hard, its good for the environment, your body, AND your wallet.
Potential Savings: $ everything but time, minus cost of bike (if necessary)
Bus? Rail? Light Rail? Subway?
The most difficult part about using public transportation is getting used to it. Its less convenient, it has more people, it isn’t as comfortable as your car. Personally, I don’t mind taking the bus at all – until I start using a vehicle. A couple of months ago I was fortunate enough to get to use my parent’s vehicle for a couple of weeks, and it just about ruined me. Its hard to get used to things taking twice as long as they could if one simply drove there.
But then you are paying for gas, insurance, car loan payments, etc. Yes, it is inconvenient, but so is being in debt. I would rather wait by the bus for a few minutes every day rather than not be able to get to sleep at night.
Here is how I make my bus ride productive AND fun:
Using my Blackberry Pearl, loaded with Opera Mini, I navigate to m.google.com/reader. In my Google reader, I have all the blogs that I want to read on a daily basis. This allows me to use my downtime, whether its at work, home, or during my commute, to read fantastic content.
Again, using my Pearl, I use Daily Lit to send me small segments of large books to read classics whenever I have a minute or two. I used to use Viigo to get the RSS feed, but I found a few problems with that set up. Viigo either limits the amount of entries per feed (say, at 25), so that you lose entries if you don’t read them in time, or it fills up your memory card – or both. Instead, I recommend using Google Reader (or take the email option).
My most preferred method of spending my morning commute is to use my iPod Nano (3rd Generation) to watch videos. I never used to use my iPod for video, because I found it difficult to find anything to put on it. There’s a couple methods for this. If you buy TV shows off iTunes, you’ll find that they sync quite easily. For everything else, I use iSquint, a discontinued but simple program that lets you convert any video format (like .avi) to an iTunes friendly format. It’ll even automatically add your videos right into iTunes so that the next time you sync your iPod, they’ll pop right on there.
I sometimes use the time on the bus to just focus myself. Especially if I know that I am going to have a tough day at work, I spend a little bit of time zoning myself out, by focusing on myself, my breathing, my thoughts, my feelings. I’ll imagine the day going well, I’ll visualize positive interactions and pleasant outcomes. It lets me become “zen” before I walk into an office of loud talkers and a world of angry home owners.
See? Isn’t saving money while commuting fun?
Sometimes my work requires that I drive around the city, isn’t of walking around it. Whenever I do so, I am always amazed as the different types of drivers out there. The ones that annoy me the most are the slam on the gas, slam on the brake kind of drivers. I’m just not sure why the feel the need to get to the next red light 4 or 5 seconds ahead of the rest of us. Are they afraid that we’re going to budge? Regardless, I always feel a little sorry for them, because they’re burning a TON of full in their rush to nowhere.
Further Reading: Lessons In Fuel Efficient Driving
If you must commute by car, do yourself a favor and start driving responsibly. Its not cool to speed, it never has been, and now its costing your wallet to get your adrenaline rush. Here’s a few tips to improve your driving commute:
- drive in a fuel efficient manner
- consider car pooling
- trying improving your mind while making your commute more productive: listen to audiobooks, no Top 40
- buy and drive a fuel efficent car
- move closer to your work
- bring your work closer to your home
Potential Savings: $ as much as you put into it
Everyone has to get to work somehow. How do you?