Man Driving in Car

HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR COMMUTE COSTS

In Productivity, Spending by C.J. Cato2 Comments

The “Change Your Commute” Calculator

  • If you’re just here for the, “Change Your Commute” Calculator – it is at the bottom of this page.
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COMMUTING IS COSTING YOU

According to the most recent census bureau data the average commute to work takes 26 minutes now, and that’s up about 20% since 1980. I live in Austin, TX and my 22 mile commute that was once 40 minutes… has grown to an hour each way over just the last few years. I’ve come to realize the impact first hand of how an absurdly long commute affects not only your wallet, but your happiness. I’m going to talk about the impact of your shitty “Time Challenged” commute, and how to easily calculate the benefits of a possible new employer. I also introduce the “Change Your Commute” calculator.

TIME

The single biggest expense you pay with a long commute is what you pay with your time. At first the commute makes sense, you say to yourself, if I live in the suburbs and drive 40 minutes to work I can get a nicer house for the same amount of money, and if I get a nicer house I’ll have nice parties, and if I have nice parties I’ll have an epic social life, my spouse will love me more, the kids will be super happy…..   Bwahahahahaha!  How did that work out?

So what do you really get? Ummm,,, Well, you basically sit in your car more. Nothing else really changes in your life, except the fact that the time you would have had to do the things you enjoy, is now spent driving in your car. Who knew?

PRODUCTIVITY

Let’s talk about the monetary value of that time you are wasting sitting in your car. If you make $25 an hour, that means every hour you spend commuting you are potentially losing $25 in productivity. While driving to and from work sure seems like a work related activity, your employer sure doesn’t think so because they never seem to want to pay for it. Now imagine if you freed up that time so that you could actually work instead. You would spend the same amount of time each day doing, “work related activity” only now you would get paid for it.

FUEL

While the savings on a home farther from town are often easy to see; sometimes the expenses are harder to notice. The most obvious expense is probably fuel. If you’re commuting daily in a vehicle that’s not very fuel efficient, then cutting your commute distance could mean considerable savings. 

Let’s say you have a 50 mile round-trip commute, you get an average fuel economy of 25 mpg, and gas costs $2.50/gallon. That comes out to $1,300 a year in fuel costs. If you have a 10 mile commute it’s only about $300. Now what would happen if you invested that $1,000 a year difference for ten years? I’ll tell you what.. You would have $14,000 in the bank. If you’re not sure how to get 7% in the market you may enjoy my article on, OUTPERFORMING HEDGE FUND MANAGERS.

Maintenance and Wear and Tear

A less obvious expenses when commuting is the wear and tear on your car… and it can be significant. If your work is 20 miles away and you’re driving in 5 days a week, that’s over 10,000 miles a year on your vehicle. That’s the same distance as New York to Indonesia! In contrast if your work is only 10 miles away you will drive 5,000 miles less on your car every year.

In ten years you will have put 50,000 less miles on your vehicle. That’s the equivalent of not driving all the way around the Earth… Twice! Just imagine how much longer your car will last if you don’t circumnavigate the planet with it a couple extra times for no reason. Not to mention all the $50+ oil changes you won’t have to make… the tires you won’t need to buy… and so on and so on.

Calculating your Commuting Costs

OK, I’ve put together a calculator that will show you how much you will save with a shorter commute. This will calculate some of the biggest expenses for you, such as Time, Fuel, and Productivity. All you have to do is fill in the Blue cells, and find your results in Yellow. Hopefully this will help you find the right balance between commute and costs.


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Featured image by Gabrielle fortin

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Comments

  1. Super job of defining just how much a long commute costs. I lived eight minutes away from work my entire career. And that was with a company car and free gasoline so the financial costs were minimal. The main thing being so close gave me was time, just as you indicated. Time is so important and even though I had a demanding job I had all those hours others commuted to spend with my three kids and wife. I think more people would consider life in rural flyover states if they accurately accounted for the much higher costs of living in large cities and the commutes that big city life often causes. The pay is about the same and the cost of living is much lower and there is simply no reason to commute because all the houses are pretty inexpensive regardless of distance from employment.

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