Cutting my commuting costs – Realistic Or Nah?

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Is it just me or are petrol prices slowly creeping up? When I started my latest job petrol had gone down to £0.99 per litre. Last time I filled up (fairly recently) it was £1.14, which has got me thinking about cutting my commuting costs. Now this isn’t about being cheap, the hubby and I have some big things coming up over the next year and I would like to see what could be done in this area to contribute towards them. A number of Personal Finance (PF) blogs have recommended this area as a quick win when it comes to savings. That and I watched one of the big train bosses argue that commuting is a choice, when challenged over poor services and high costs. Many of us believe we don’t have a choice so I thought I’d assess my situation.

My Current Situation

Journey time: 45 mins – 1 hour (on a par with what I was doing down South, but I do use this time to adjust my mindset at the start and end of my workday, listening to various podcasts. As I know commuting can be/is a huge time waster I’m determined to make my journey productive!

Method: Car (I know commuting by car is like a PF sin).

Cost (what I tell myself): £150 per month (Fuel)

Real cost: £244 per month (including insurance, Road tax, servicing and repairs) or £2,928 per year!

Thankfully there are no car finance payments but all those years in London not driving haven’t helped the insurance cost (lack of no claims)! I was never a fan of borrowing to fund a car purchase. I can see why people do it but I’ve always wanted to be free with as few monthly commitments as possible. Anyhow I’m rambling on, back to the matter at hand.

So how do I comfort myself over this cost? I always thought of it versus the cost of the monthly zone 1-4 travel card I used to get before relocating. Currently priced at £178.60 my fuel costs are cheaper (not massively), but factoring in my other car costs it’s doesn’t look too good – how have I let this happen??? Have I fallen prey to the lifestyle upgrade trap?

I justified it through a reduction in other major costs following relocation up north (e.g. rent). Add to that:

  • the comfort of no longer having to face the freezing temperatures other than during brief walks to/from the car
  • not having to deal with other commuters’ disregard for personal space (I know everyone’s desperate to get where they’re going, but it doesn’t make armpits in the face any more appealing).

The real cost indicates that I’m not really winning in this area. Nonetheless, they do say you get better at eliminating money wastage the longer you’re in this PF game.

Alternative Options??

Cycle to work

Pros? Getting some much needed exercise during the commute with costs limited to the bike purchase and any ongoing maintenance (I would expect this to be much cheaper than car maintenance – bike enthusiasts correct me if I’m wrong).

Cons? Quick look on Google maps puts this journey at 1 hour 23 minutes, way too long in my opinion. There’s also the issue of negotiating dual carriageways for the majority of the journey. I’ve always been a wimp when it comes to cycling on the road, so the thought of cycling alongside two lanes of traffic doing 60mph is terrifying.

The journey time and road cycling fears mean this method isn’t really an option. A change in job location could make it a future option – so that’s food for thought.

Public Transport

Pros? Freedom to use my commute to work on other projects.

Cons? Commute split over two methods of transport – train and bus. Train ticket starts from £9 per day, which would come to £45 per week! Factor in the bus ticket and that increases to £62 weekly or roughly £248 per month – not great considering for a less money I am also free to use my car for other journeys. Journey times also being an hour minimum doesn’t serve as much of an incentive.

All is not lost

Although the alternative methods have not yielded the easy win I’d hoped for it’s definitely made me think seriously about making sure my next opportunity is closer to home. Not only for the monetary gain but also for the time saved. I’m a city girl at heart and at this point can’t see myself moving to a rural location to be closer to work.

Have you considered the amount of money you spend just to get to your place of work? Is your commute over an hour? Could you save by moving closer to work? To those who cycle, how do you get over the fear of the road? Let me know your thoughts via comment, Twitter or Facebook.

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