How To Save Money Now That You’re Back To Commuting

Close up photo of a businessman driving a car.
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Commuting has always been one of the lousiest parts of the working life — and the most costly. During the pandemic shutdowns, Americans saved an average of $2,000 each on commuting expenses, amounting to $758 million a day since the pandemic struck in March 2020

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Though some companies are sticking to remote work for the long haul, for many people it’s back to the grind.  

“Over the past year or so, the benefits of remote working for both employees and companies have all but been shouted from the rooftops, since this new work model became the new normal,” said Eden Cheng, co-founder of PeopleFinderFree. “Whether it was a matter of driving by car to work each day or using public transport, the introduction of remote working significantly helped people to save on commuting costs that usually kept adding up to huge amounts on a yearly basis.”

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We talked to real-life commuters to learn how they’ve saved money on commuting, and explored more ways to continue the savings if you’re back to driving into work.  

Tips: What Should Your Post-Pandemic Savings Strategy Be?

Saving on Gas

“The average commuter would usually spend between $2,000 – $5,000 per year just on transportation, and the biggest [expense] in this department was gasoline,” Cheng said. “With most people now telecommuting, this has helped millions to spend a lot less on gas money.”

The price of gas is skyrocketing, so, unfortunately, there’s no clear way to cut corners here other than to reduce your time spent driving. The best way to do this is to opt for public transportation or look into carpooling with colleagues.  

Important: 5 Pandemic Expenses To Cut Now That States Are Reopened

Dodging Traffic

Another time sink is traffic, which can cause wear and tear on your car, and that can take a toll on your wallet. If you have the means to relocate closer to your work, you’ll greatly minimize your expenses. 

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You can save time from commuting when you can reduce the travel time from your home to the workplace,” said Tyler Wall, president and CEO of SD Bullion. “You can also take a walk, ride a bike or take public transit when your location is near. That means you save money from burning gas and getting stuck in traffic.”

See: 57 Items That Have Been Getting Cheaper Over the Last Year

The Cost of Food

“The time saved on commuting can easily be reallocated to cooking meals from home,” said Ouriel Lemmel, the CEO and founder of WinIt. “Making home-cooked meals is not only cheaper but also a much healthier option. When I spent long hours commuting to an office it was much more tempting to pick something up on the way or only to remember to eat when I was really hungry.” 

When going back to the office, consider investing in a slow cooker to keep meals cooking all day at home. “This will cut down on the cost of picking up a meal on the way home from a long day at the office,” Lemmel said. 

Take a Look: 8 Major Ways We’ve Had To Adjust Financially Due to the Pandemic

Having Time To Brainstorm Moneymaking Ideas

Adam Garcia, founder of The Stock Dork, found that he has been able to spend the time he would have spent commuting on more important things, like brainstorming moneymaking dreams he was able to turn into reality. 

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“Some of the ideas and projects have turned into income-producing ventures, which I never would have had if I was stuck in the morning commute,” Garcia said. “I’ve also been able to focus on learning new skills and acquiring knowledge, which has boosted my ability to do great work for the website. I’ve increased my value, and thus indirectly increased the value of my business.”

Planning a brainstorm session doesn’t seem natural, but if you can set aside a few minutes when you wake up to jot down ideas, that could help get the creative juices flowing. If this doesn’t work for you, give it a shot around lunchtime, which has been shown to be the perfect time slot for productivity, according to scientific research.

Check Out: The 11 Most Popular Pandemic Home Improvement Projects – Plus, How Much They Cost

Rest

“Definitely not least of all: I’ve gotten rest,” Garcia said. “When I’m not busy working or learning, I am able to use that time to relax, and gain my strength back. How does this relate to money? Well, I’ve finally given my stressed-out immune system a break. This means fewer sick days, less of a need for a vacation and more energy to put into work when I’m actually working.” 

There’s no valid replacement for rest. If you’re worn out at work, either talk to your human resources department about this or give power napping a try. Many offices are now accommodating employees who need a quick snooze during the day.

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Last updated: July 23, 2021

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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