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If you have a long daily commute to work, you know that transportation costs can quickly take your wallet for a ride.
In fact, the average American spends about $2,600 on commuting costs annually, according to a 2015 survey conducted by Wakefield Research and commissioned by Citi.
That cash can really add up. Over 10 years, you’ll have spent about $26,000 — and all in the name of earning money. Had you instead invested that money in the stock market at a 7 percent annual return, you’d have about $43,500 after a decade. Ouch!
Such numbers offer a vivid reminder that every dollar you save can greatly impact the size of your nest egg.
If you’re wondering how much you spend on commuting, try this handy calculator at the website of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Then get to work on cutting costs for getting to work.
To help, we’ve uncovered six ways you can slash the cost of your commute.
Buy the right car — and maintain it
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If you are in the market for a new car, buy a fuel-efficient vehicle. Doing so means you will rack up extra savings by cutting gasoline costs for every mile you drive to and from work.
Also, pay attention to the little things that can help avoid wasting gas. Check the tires to make sure they are properly inflated, don’t speed and use the air conditioning only when absolutely necessary and never when the windows are open!
Keep extra stuff out of the trunk so your car isn’t pulling more weight than it needs to. And, if possible, talk to your employer about starting your shift before rush hour in the morning and leaving early before the other commuters hit the road in the evening. Stop-and-go traffic is a major guzzler of gas.
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Do you have a friend or co-worker who drives the same route to work that you do? If so, split the driving between the two — or three — of you. Three people who share carpooling duties essentially cut their commuting costs by two-thirds. Tough to beat that!
Use public transportation
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Getting to work by bus or rail offers several advantages. You won’t spend money on gas, parking and wear-and-tear repairs. In addition, someone else will do the driving while you read or listen to a book or get a head start on your workday.
If you work for the right company, you might get additional savings. Federal law allows employers to offer tax-free transportation benefits to workers. To learn more, check out the National Center for Transit Research’s list of the 2018 Best Workplaces for Commuters.
Bicycle to work
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Not only will biking save you on fuel costs, but it also can get you in shape and have you wide awake and ready to face the workday the moment you arrive at the office. And we shouldn’t have to remind you that it’s also good for the environment.
If you opt to trade in four wheels for two, you’ll become part of a growing movement: A 2014 report from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that the number of workers who commuted by bike had grown by 60 percent over a decade.
If the two-wheeled commute works out, consider giving up your car altogether and using your bike for all transportation. Now we’re talking real savings!
Call the insurance company once you give up the car
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If you decide to bike or to take public transportation to work, make sure to let your insurance company in on the decision. Drivers who do not use their cars to commute to work can get a substantial break on the cost of their car insurance.
For example, NerdWallet ran some numbers a couple of years ago and found that a Florida driver insured with State Farm who cuts his or her yearly driving from 10,000 to 5,000 miles saves about 14 percent in premium costs.
However, NerdWallet also noted that such discounts are not available everywhere. So, check with your insurance agent first.
Work from home
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Find a job where you can telecommute full time, and your commuting costs will drop to zero. You may also be able to save on your wardrobe! For more on uncovering such jobs, check out “Ask Stacy: Are There Legitimate Work-From-Home Jobs?”
Even if your job requires you to come in to the office, talk to your boss and see if you can arrange to work a day or two each week from home. Again, every dollar you can cut from your commuting budget helps.
Do you have more tips for cutting commuting costs? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.