Nobody likes forking out for their work commute, but if you follow some of these top tips, you could save yourself a healthy sum week in, week out.
Don’t you just love it? You’re still half asleep, longing for the moment you can crawl back into your bed again and get back to dreaming of that G&T on the beach (or whatever floats your boat). But no. You’ve got to drag yourself out of the house and off to work, not forgetting you’ve got to pay for the privilege!
Unless you’re one of the lucky few who can walk to work, or better still you can work from home, you’ll be all too aware of the costs associated with your daily commute. But follow our 10-step guide and you could be saving money in no time.
1. Car share
If you work with someone who lives reasonably close by and you drive to work, then making an arrangement to car share could not only half your fuel costs but half the environmental impact of your daily commute, too.
Many companies now support car share initiatives, so speak to your HR department and they might be able to put you in touch with a suitable commute buddy.
2. Look after your car
Making sure your car is in tip-top shape will ensure it’s running as efficiently as possible and help save you money on fuel.
Keep on top of your annual MOT and service, as well as regularly checking your levels under the bonnet.
3. Plan ahead
We all know the agony of sitting in rush hour traffic, but a little careful planning could save you valuable minutes and fuel money.
Listen to the traffic reports before you head out to avoid any potential hold-ups, do your homework and get to know the alternative routes you might need to take should there be heavier than normal congestion.
4. Drive efficiently
Falling into bad habits is easily done, and it’s fair to say we don’t all drive like we’ve got an instructor in the passenger seat any more, but putting a little extra effort into driving efficiently will save your petrol and minimise the wear and tear on your car (saving you even more money in the long run).
Excessive acceleration and braking are some of the worst offenders, so where possible take a little extra time when it comes to starting and stopping.
5. Shop around
Variations in petrol and diesel prices can be dramatic, so it’s always a good idea to shop around and fill up where the price is best – as long as it’s not miles out of your way.
Again, this comes down to being prepared and making sure you don’t end up in a situation where your petrol light’s on and your only option is the most expensive garage in town.
6. Parking costs
If your workplace doesn’t offer free on-site parking, then you could be shelling out a small fortune in daily parking tariffs. There are now websites you can use to search for local parking spots and compare daily rates, and making the most of these could save you more than you might think in annual parking charges.
Maybe it’s convenience that’s tempting you to pay extra, but maybe you work in a city centre and there simply isn’t a cheaper option. In which case, public transport might be a savvy alternative.
7. Public transport
Obviously, this isn’t free, but often it works out cheaper than driving and if it’s something you’d consider it could work out a good economic choice.
Not only could you save money on fuel but using public transport also cuts out the maintenance costs associated with running a car. On top of this, you’ll eliminate the stresses of driving and could even find you have extra time to catch up on work, read the paper or just have five minutes to yourself.
8. Bulk buy
If you do use public transport, you can often save a decent amount of money by buying a weekly, monthly or even an annual ticket. Doing so will cut out the aggro of purchasing your fare daily, as well as helping with your budgeting.
Visit your local transport provider’s website for more information on the sorts of tickets they offer and work out how much you might save. But remember, this is only a financially savvy option if you’re committed to using public transport on a regular basis.
9. Get work to pay
Sounds too good to be true, right? But for some people, this might be an option.
If you’re a mobile worker, in 2015 the European court of justice ruled that employees without a fixed office should deem the time it takes to commute to their first job of the day, and home from their final job of the day as part of their working hours for the day.
The ruling is part of the Working Time Directive, and in the UK, employees are able to opt out of the scheme, so it’s not as straightforward as you might hope. However, if you think this might apply to you, it may well be worth speaking to your HR department (or equivalent) to find out more.
If you work within a reasonable distance from your home, then cycling to work could save you lots of money on commuting, as well as being beneficial to your health and the environment.
Of course, if you don’t already own a bike there will be an upfront cost involved, however, the government offers a Cycle to Work scheme to employers, which allows them to loan bikes and equipment to its employees as a tax-free benefit.
As part of the scheme, you’d hire your chosen bike for an agreed period of time, and eventually purchase it for a fraction of its original cost.
If cycling to work is something you’d seriously consider, find out if your employer’s already part of the scheme and if not, encourage them to opt in!