Today’s tip is to cut your commute expenses by 40% using two techniques: Carpooling and working from home.
Tip #1: Carpool
Carpooling is a sacred cow for Americans, which is exactly the kind of expense I love to cut. We spend incredible amounts of money and time commuting. As Gallup reports, the average American spends 46 minutes commuting to/from work each day. But any advice that suggests you sell your car and exchange it for a bike is totally irrelevant for the vast majority of people. Instead, I propose something much more modest.
Forget carpooling 5 days per week. Try carpooling 1 day per week. That’s hardly inconvenient, yet you save about 50 days of carpooling per year. At the peak of gas prices, I spent about $65/week on gas. If I carpooled just 1 day per week, that would equal about $465 in savings over 1 year. (Note: Here’s how I save more money on gas.)
The key: Start small. Don’t try to turn into Al Gore on day #1. Set a smaller goal so it’s sustainable: Try 1 day per week. That’s it.
First start, then optimize
Yes, technically you have to factor in the costs of driving your carpool buddies once every few weeks, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just exclude that. In fact, forget all barriers. As usual, it’s easier to ramp up once you’ve started:
“During this past summer I spent as much as $300 per month on fuel not to mention wear and tear on my vehicle. I am currently paying $45.00 per month to ride the Van Pool. An instant savings of $255.00 per month on fuel. Take that OPEC!”
–Marcos Martinez, Katy, TX
Use these sites to start:
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Sherwood: Hi, Bill. Do you have a quick second?
Bill: Sure. What’s up?
Sherwood: I just wanted to bounce an idea off of you that’s been on my mind. Two minutes should be plenty.
Bill: OK. Shoot.
Sherwood: Last week, as you know, I was sick. Long story short, I decided to work at home despite feeling terrible. So here’s the funny part. I thought I would get nothing done, but ended up finishing three more designs than usual on both days. Plus, I put in three more billable hours than usual without the commute, office noise, distractions, etc. OK, so here’s where I’m going. Just as a trial, I’d like to propose working from home Mondays and Tuesdays for just two weeks. You can veto it whenever you want, and I’ll come in if we need to do meetings, but I’d like to try it for just two weeks and review the results. I’m 100% confident that I’ll get twice as much done. Does that seem reasonable?
Bill: Hmm…What if we need to share client designs?
Sherwood: There’s a program called GoToMyPC that I used to access the office computer when I was sick. I can view everything remotely, and I’ll have my cell phone on me 24/7. Sooooo…What do you think? Test it out starting next Monday and see how much more I get done?
Bill: Ummm…OK, fine. But it’s just a test. I have a meeting in five and have to run, but let’s talk soon.
Sherwood: Great. Thanks for the time. I’ll keep you posted on it all. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Read more of Tim’s script in the section called “Disappearing Act: How to Escape the Office” of The 4-Hour Workweek.
The point is, during times when we’re all supposed to be doing more with less, if you can be more productive while working from home, your boss may seriously consider it. Most people never ask, so they never have the chance to trial a work-from-home strategy…even one day per week. (At PBwiki, the company I co-founded, we actively encourage people to work from home once a week.) What’s the worst he could say — no?
Just remember, your boss doesn’t care about you — he cares about how much you can (1) help the company and (2) make him look good. Frame your request accordingly.
Total savings: $100 to $300 per month if you apply both these tips (i.e., you’d be saving on your commute 2 days per week, or 40% of your commute).
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Last thing to do
1. See other tips in the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge
2. Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work.
If you found this post helpful you’ll probably like my new Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance. This is an excellent place to learn more simple ways to improve your personal finance and money management.