With the rising price of fuel, more and more people are considering ways to cut the costs associated with their commute.
While your individual circumstances will determine what you can and can't implement, there are a number of different options you can use to help reduce these costs. Here are some ideas to consider:
Get up earlier
: One of the easiest and least disruptive
ways to save money
on your commute -- particularly if your company offers flexible hours -- is to change the time you drive to and from work. If you get up an hour earlier, you may miss the majority of the morning rush hour, which will enable you to get to work much more quickly than if you left at your regular time.
The same is true on your commute back home. You could actually create more time for yourself. By not spending as much time in your car due to the lighter traffic, you can be more productive, save time and spend less on your commute all at the same time.
Reroute your commute
: The automatic assumption is that the shortest route will get you to work the quickest. There are times, however, when taking a slightly roundabout way can save you time and money if you are able to avoid traffic jams. If you can find several ways to your office, you can choose the most efficient way, depending on that day's traffic.
: In addition to saving the cost of not having to drive your car every day on your commute, carpooling also will save time getting to and coming from your destination. With more people in the car, you can often use commuter lanes to avoid traffic jams during commute hours. If you want to find someone to carpool with, it's usually as simple as searching the city you live in and "car pool" in any search engine.
Ride a bicycle
: If your company is not too far away, you might want to consider riding your bike to work. Even if you are not hard-core, choosing to bike into work on nice days rather than drive your car can still make a significant dent in reducing the cost of your overall commute expenses.
Get a scooter
: Depending on your commuting distance, a scooter might be a viable option. They use far less gasoline than cars do, and depending on how heavy the traffic is in your area during commuting hours, you can actually get to work quicker than in a car.
: This option depends a lot on how good the public transportation in your area is. If you haven't checked in a while, it may be worthwhile to do so. In many places, public transportation has improved over the last few years, and using it may not be nearly as inconvenient as you might believe. In addition to saving money, this option also will free up your time to be more productive, because you can read or do other work on the way.
Check for incentives
: More and more companies are offering incentives to employees to be more environmentally friendly on their commute. Some offer shuttle vans from public transportation hubs or discounted and subsidized public transportation passes. They may even offer incentives to encourage carpooling. Contact your personnel department to see if your company offers some money-saving incentives for you to change the way you commute to work.
: If a lot of your job is done sitting in front of a computer, it may be possible for you to telecommute instead of physically being in the office. While this may not be possible to do every single day, technology has made it a lot easier for people to do this several days a week. While this was a hard sell for a long time, more and more businesses are opening up to this idea, so it's worth talking to your boss.
An issue that often keeps people from changing their commuting routine is they have an "all or nothing" mentality. Instead of trying to change your routine completely, try working in any alternative that fits your schedule one day a week. As you become more comfortable, you can then expand it.
Adopting one or two alternatives, even on an occasional basis, can add up to worthwhile savings over time.
Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and get their finances in order. He currently owns and runs SavingAdvice.com.