Cutting Your Commuting Costs

Saving money is no big sweat when you’re talking about saving on items like clothing or travel. After all, those purchases are discretionary. You can buy them, or you can stay away – it’s all up to you. But when it comes to commuting – well, that’s a must-have. You’ve got to make it to work, so we spoke with John Nielsen, AAA’s automotive engineering and repair managing director, about what you can do to cut back your commuting costs.

With 10.8 million of us traveling an hour each way on our commute, it’s no surprise that spending on commuting is high. The average household spends $3,000 a year on all gas purchases, but it could be less if you took these simple tips from Nielsen:

  • Stop driving so aggressively. According to the Energy Department, tailgating and swerving in out of traffic costs you big time. Aggressive driving lowers your gas mileage by a third! For more savings, keep it under the speed limit. You spend about a quarter more per gallon for every five miles per hour you drive over 60 MPH.
  • Don’t get stuck in traffic tieups. True sometimes there is only one way to get where you’re going. But more often than not, you can find a way around traffic snarls. Idling just 10 minutes is the same as driving five miles when it comes to gas consumption. Check out traffic apps like Waze to get traffic alerts and to find the lowest gas prices. Google maps’ “faster route” navigation can help you avoid backups.
  • Use pre-tax dollars to save. Some employers have commuting programs that allow workers to save on their commute by using pre-tax dollars to buy train tickets or parking.