The cost of commuting to and from work every day can add up quickly if you’re not careful. Between rising gas prices, struggling subway systems and the exploding ridesharing industry, it can be hard to determine the best way to get to work. We’ve got your back with some ideas to cut cost on your daily commute.
Contribute to a commuter benefits program
The IRS allows employers to offer pre-tax commuter benefits of up to $225 per month. If you're not yet using a commuter benefit program, check to see if your employer offers one, and get on it, because the savings pay off!
Here's how it works: You can calculate how much you anticipate your commute will cost each month, whether that’s through gas, a bus pass or parking, and then deduct that amount from your paycheck, before you get paid. It will instead be loaded onto a commuter benefits card, which isn’t taxed. You can use it for any type of work transportation, which makes this benefit totally worth it if you’re employer offers it. Not convinced? This calculator shows how much you can save each month with a benefits card.
Join a carpool.
Got a buddy who lives near you? Share rides to work to cut back on gas costs for the both of you. You’ll also cut back on the wear and tear of your car by joining a carpool, which saves money in the long run.
Consider ridesharing programs.
If Via, Uber, Lyft or Zipcar operate in your area, check out the rates, especially if you only head into the office once or twice a week. Sometimes using these programs once in awhile can be cheaper than buying a car for yourself, especially if you split the ride with someone else.
Take public transit.
Buses, subways, trains and ferries are all smart and earth-friendly ways to get to work. Check to see if your city offers any sort of student, senior or military discount to get extra cash taken off the bill. Be smart about having change on hand if you take the bus. Keeping a jar of quarters at home can make it easy to make your bus fare on the fly.
Ride a bicycle.
This one is a no brainer. Riding a bike to work has a ton of benefits. It’s earth friendly, it’s super cheap (once you buy the bike, it costs nothing but occasional repairs to ride one) and it helps you stay fit. If you are able to, definitely consider this option.
Walk to work.
Similar to riding a bicycle, with even less equipment necessary. If you’re able-bodied and live within a half an hour of your workplace, try walking on days that the weather is good. See if you like it, then consider investing in boots or an umbrella for poor weather days.
Park farther away.
Consider parking farther away from your office if you can save a couple of bucks on parking. The extra steps you get in aren’t so bad either.
Use rewards wisely.
When you buy gas, bus passes or other necessary transit items, try to use a rewards credit card or rebate program. A little cash back can go a long way, especially when it comes to monthly or even weekly expenses.
- Alicia McElhaney / She Spends Issue #56