Commuting can eat up a huge amount of time and money. In fact, a 2015 survey found Americans spend an average of $2,600 a year on their commute, or about $10 a day.
And it’s not only money spent, it’s also time — an average of 45 minutes a day, per the same survey — but there are ways for commuters to claw back at least some of losses. Here are 50 ways to do just that.
If one or more of your co-workers lives nearby (or a neighbor works near your office), consider asking if you can split the cost and stress of driving to work.
“Not only does it allow you to save on your own commute, but you can also take advantage of the carpool lane and get to work even faster this way,” Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com, said.
2. Space Out Oil Changes
An oil change every 3,000 miles is accepted wisdom, but many cars don’t actually need an oil change that often. Check your car’s manual to see whether you need to change your oil that frequently.
3. Use the Right Motor Oil …
Make sure to use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of oil. Check your car’s manual to find out. This improves gas mileage by up to 2%, according to fueleconomy.gov, the official federal source for fuel economy information.
4. … But Make Sure You Keep Up With Maintenance
That doesn’t mean you should forgo maintenance or repairs. If a mechanic you trust says you should shell out for a repair, do it. It’s going to be much more expensive and inconvenient if your car breaks down. Keeping your car in tune also makes it more fuel efficient.
5. Use Public Transit
Depending on service in your area, taking the bus or train may be cheaper than driving every day. You can use a fuel savings calculator like the one on publictransportation.org to see how your options compare.
6. Avoid Toll Roads
“Don’t take the toll road unless it’s a total game-changer,” said McKinzie Brocail, a writer who commutes 75 miles to and from work each day. “If you are spending $5-plus each way and only saving a few minutes on your drive, it is a waste of money.”
Your route may vary, but it’s worth investigating alternatives to toll roads.
7. Take Back Roads
The drive to work for Derek Hines, an internet marketing assistant for West Coast Self-Storage, based in Mill Creek, Washington, is about an hour. He generally avoids the highway.
“It’s longer from a mileage point of view, but I get better gas mileage because I’m not sitting in stop-and-go traffic,” he said.
8. Ease up on the Brakes
If you must brave stop-and-go traffic, ease off the gas and brake pedals, said Korey Adekoya, who writes the blog for Shabana Motors, a Houston car dealership.
“Braking and accelerating can be some of the biggest causes of fuel efficiency lost,” Adekoya said. He advised anticipating stops to avoid slamming on the brakes.
9. Accelerate Gently
The Canadian government lists five techniques that it says can cut fuel consumption as much as 25%. The first is to accelerate gently. The harder you accelerate, the more fuel you use.
10. Maintain a Steady Speed
Varying your speed too much can increase fuel use.
11. Anticipate Stops
If you know what’s up ahead, you won’t have to change speeds as drastically.
12. Avoid High Speeds
Fuel efficiency drops drastically at speeds of more than 50 mph, according to fueleconomy.gov.
13. Coast to a Stop
Canada’s final tip: If you see a slowdown ahead, just take your foot off the gas, then brake. In modern cars, releasing the accelerator like this shuts the flow of fuel to the engine. It also helps prevent wear on your tires and breaks.
14. Avoid Idling in General
Sitting in traffic is not only frustrating, but also wasteful. Your engine is on, burning fuel, but you’re not going anywhere. On that note…
15. Don’t Wait to Warm Up Your Car
Modern engines get warm when you drive them, Stephen Ciatti, an expert in combustion engines, told Business Insider. Idling your car, unless it was built before the 1980s, is just wasting gas. Per fueleconomy.gov: “The engine will warm up faster being driven, which will allow the heat to turn on sooner, decrease your fuel costs and reduce emissions.”
16. Park Somewhere Warm
Your engine is more fuel efficient when it reaches a warm temperature. Parking somewhere warm will help get it there faster once it starts.
17. Don’t Weigh Down Your Car
Fuel efficiency goes down with weight, Adekoya said. If there’s anything in your car you don’t actually need, store it somewhere else.
18. Keep Stuff Off Your Roof
If you must haul stuff, use the trunk, not the roof. Roof-mounted cargo boxes lead to increased wind resistance and lower fuel economy, according to fueleconomy.gov.
19. Use Cruise Control
As we said, staying at a constant speed helps save gas and using your cruise control makes that easier.
20. Buy a More Fuel-Efficient Car
If your car is eating up gas, it might be worth trading it in for one that’s more fuel-efficient. Fueleconomy.gov has gas mileage estimates for most cars. (Be sure to follow these money-saving steps while shopping.)
21. Buy a Used Car …
Used cars are not only cheaper than new cars, but can be cheaper to insure.
22. … Or Get an Electric or Hybrid
This not only saves gas, but might make you eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500. (Try to avoid these five car-buying mistakes.)
23. Cool It With the Air Conditioner …
Most air conditioners use engine power to work, which can sip extra fuel. If you can stand the heat, sweating it out could save gas money.
24. … & Rolling Down the Windows
Unfortunately, driving with the windows down can also reduce fuel economy by increasing wind resistance. If you need to cool down, fueleconomy.gov recommends opening the windows at low speeds and using the air at highway speeds.
25. Cut Down on Trips
Don’t make more trips than you need. If you know you need to stop at the grocery store or laundromat, plan to go on your way home from work rather than making separate journeys. Your car is more fuel efficient when the engine stays warm, so a trip with multiple stops is better than multiple trips separated by days, according to fueleconomy.gov.
26. Find the Cheapest Gas …
There’s an abundance of apps and websites to help you find which gas stations offer the lowest prices, from GasBuddy to your navigation app. Just don’t go so far out of the way that it isn’t worth it.
27. … & Don’t Buy Premium
Unless you drive a high-performance vehicle or your owner’s manual explicitly says to use it, there’s rarely a benefit to high-octane gas, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
28. Move …
If your commute is pricey enough, it can be worth it to find a place closer to work. (Follow these money tips before moving out.)
29. … Or Get a New Job
Or get a job closer to home.
30. Don’t Stop for Food or Coffee
“Breakfast or a latte might seem like a pick-me-up for the trek to work, but it adds up fast,” Brocail said.
31. Use Pre-Tax Dollars
The IRS allows employers to offer transportation benefits to workers. This lets them use up to $255 per month in pre-tax dollars on commuting expenses like parking or bus passes. Jody Dietel, chief compliance officer at WageWorks, a benefits provider, said this saves workers an average of 30% on commuting costs. Talk to your human resources department to see if they offer transportation benefits.
32. Buy a Bicycle …
If the route is safe, riding a bike to work uses no gas, is good exercise and helps burn calories, potentially saving a trip to the gym. The League of American Bicyclists has several tips for bike commuters on its site.
33. … Or Use a Bike Sharing Program
Many cities offer bicycle sharing programs that let people borrow bikes for short rides. You usually need to subscribe, but see what your city has to offer.
34. … Or Walk
If you live close enough, of course.
35. Work From Home …
Cut your commute out entirely by asking your boss to let you work from home — if not all the time, perhaps just a couple of days a week.
36. … Or Change Your Hours
Boss not down with you working at home? “A more sustainable option would be to ask your boss for a flexible schedule that would allow you to come to work before or after the traditional commute crunch hours, which could save on time stuck in traffic,” said Brie Weiler Reynolds, senior career specialist at FlexJobs.
37. Make Use of Your Commute
Your commute doesn’t have to be a waste of time. If you’re taking public transit or are a passenger in a ride-share, you can catch up on email. If you’re driving, play an audiobook or podcast that can help you with your career. There’s much more to do than stew about the traffic.
38. Park for Free
A free parking spot might mean a farther walk from the office, but you’ll save lots if you can avoid paying to stick your car in a garage or lot all day.
39. Keep Your Tires Filled
Under-inflated tires reduce gas mileage, according to fueleconomy.gov. Pumping them up is free at many gas stations.
40. Use a Gas Station Credit Card
The right card can give you some money back for what you spend at the pump. Here are a few options. Just remember, a rewards card usually requires a good credit score. Check your credit scores for free on Credit.com.
41. Avoid Left Turns
UPS claims to have saved about 10 million gallons of gas since 2004 by instructing drivers never to turn left (reduces waiting to cross oncoming traffic and related accidents). Cutting lefts out of your route might lead to savings as well.
42. Get a Discount
Many transit systems offer discounts to seniors or students for bus or train passes. See if you qualify.
43. Buy in Bulk
Generally, buying a monthly or seasonal pass, rather than an individual ticket, for your local transit method can lead to savings, especially if you ride regularly.
44. Hop Off Early
Many transit providers charge based on how far you travel. It might be worth it to walk the last few blocks to your house or office to save a few bucks.
45. Bundle Your Car Insurance
Ask your insurer if you can save money by bundling your car insurance with renter’s or homeowner’s insurance.
46. Keep Shopping Around for Insurers
Call around every so often to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your car insurance.
47. Put Ads on Your Car
If you drive enough, there are a few companies, like Wrapify, Carvertise and Get Paid to Drive, that will pay you for driving around with an ad on your car.
48. Know About Traffic Ahead of Time
You already know how bad sitting in traffic is for fuel efficiency. Make sure you find out about jams before you leave the house or office, whether by listening to the radio, watching TV or using an app, and plan around it.
49. Drive Safely
A ticket or worse, a car accident, will really make your commute costly. Be careful out there.
50. Don’t Stress
Sitting in a giant line of seemingly stationary buses at the Lincoln Tunnel is aggravating, but it won’t help to bring your commute-induced mood to work. Letting your commuting stress hurt your job performance is bad business. Try using your time on the bus or train to nap or meditate.
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