Costs of Commuting, and Nine Ways To Reduce Them

By Staff

This is a guest post submitted by Ramsay who writes for, a blog about personal finance and supplemental income.

Have you ever figured out how much you are spending just to go to and from work everyday? There are a lot of things to consider like gas, tolls, parking and even wear and tear on your car. Your commute might be costing you more than you think.

Most of these costs are unavoidable. You have to go to work and it costs you money to get there. But, you may be able to save a considerable amount of money by making some small changes to your commute.

I live in the Washington DC area and I have a friend that commutes into the city every day. It costs her $18 a day to go to and from work. When you take out weekends, holidays and vacation time there are about 235 work days in a year. $18 a day times 235 work days is $4,230 per year, or just over $350 per month. Ouch! Her situation is a little extreme, but I’m it’s a familiar story to many of us.

To save money on your commute to work you should reconsider your entire approach. Convenience and feeling entitled are budget killers. Here are a few ideas on cutting the costs of getting to work every day.

Parking discounts

If you work in the city you probably have to pay for parking. Many garages have early bird specials and monthly discounts. Pay for your parking spot by the month to cut down on parking costs.


Tolls add up. In Northern Virginia it’s easy to pay $2-$6 just to go one way to work. Try taking the long way to work one or two days a week or avoid just one of the many toll booths you have to travel through.


A bus, yuck! Yeah I know, buses aren’t cool but they do save people lot’s of money. Taking the bus means you don’t pay for any of those troubling commuter expenses like gas, tolls, parking, and car repair. Your commute time may even be shortened because the bus get’s to use those special bus or HOV lanes. Plus, you get to avoid the stress of driving and you can spend time reading or working. The biggest downside to taking the bus is that you are stuck conforming to the bus schedule.

High Gas Mileage Vehicle

If you have a short commute then you probably don’t worry much about gas mileage. The difference in getting 10 more miles to the gallon is only going to save you a few dollars a week. For others, like my wife that drives 80 miles every day, gas mileage makes a big difference. Using my wife as an example, driving a car that get’s 30 miles to the gallon instead of 20 means she saves $75 a month.

Change your work hours

Many offices will allow you to start early and leave early. If you go in at 7am and leave at 3:30pm there will be less traffic on the road giving you a faster commute. You’ll use less gas and have more of your time back.


I don’t like to carpool. I’d rather ride to work by myself than with someone I don’t know very well. Most people feel the same way but there are so many good reasons to carpool.

1. HOV (High occupancy vehicle) Lanes – Faster means cheaper.

2. Cut everything in half – You don’t just save on gas. You get 50% off on tolls and parking too. Maybe more if you carpool with more than one person.

3. Less frustrating – Traffic is stressful. Let someone else bare the burden every other day.

Use Pre Tax Dollars

Check with your HR department to see if your company has any commuter benefits. Some companies will allow you to pay for parking or metro fee’s with pre tax dollars. Paying with pre tax dollars is the same as being able to write off your expense which could save you $50-$100 a month.

Plan ahead on gas

Gas is always more expensive in the city. Make sure you plan ahead and always fill up at the cheaper gas station. Will it save you a lot of money? No, but why pay $3-$5 more to fill up your tank when you don’t have to.


It may not be as expensive as you think to relocate. Consider the reduced costs of getting to work every day when you are looking for a new apartment. A home that is 5 miles from work might cost you $300 more per month in rent (or mortgage) but you might save more than that in your commuting costs. Count up the difference after you don’t have to pay for parking, tolls and gas. You might be able to save money by relocating.

Run Gas Charges Through a Gas Rebate Card

One way to combat high gas prices is to run all gas purchases through a gas rebate card like the Discover Open Road card. The card offers a $10 cash rebate on your first five fill-ups, a 0% intro purchase and balance transfer APR for the first 12 months, and has no annual fee.