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Mar
07
2013

Finding Ways To Reduce The Cost Of Commuting

With the cost of living continuing to rise much more sharply than the average rate of pay, the gap between living expenses and take home pay is closing fast, if it hasn’t already been surpassed in many cases. Fuel, in the form of petrol or diesel, is driving a good proportion of that rise, and although I can do little about it in relation to the goods we buy on a weekly basis, there may be a more direct approach which we can do something about.

On the move

For the best part of the last seven years I have been clocking up around 70 miles every working day, travelling to work and back… doing nothing else. During that time I have seen fuel prices rise from around £0.90 per litre to around £1.45 per litre today. That’s an astronomical price rise of over 70% in just seven years. If savings rates had kept pace with that rate of inflation we would all be living in a very different world to the uncertain economic future which we still face, lurching from one recession to the next as we have done since 2008.

Sure we could move nearer to my place of work, and whilst that would reduce the amount of travelling I need to do on a daily basis, it would increase Lin’s commute to take care of her father every day. Now since Lin doesn’t drive, that would make for an unrealistic travel time every day, and would not be sustainable for very long. Likewise moving her father in with us on a permanent basis away from his beloved Burnley would not be his first choice, and that still leaves a fair distance between us and the rest of the family. So what are the other alternatives ?

Pays the rent

I could live away from home Monday to Thursday, in rented accommodation, but that would cost more than it would save in terms of rent, and would be a major upheaval in lifestyle. I did my share of living and working away from home some years ago, and whilst not entirely disagreeable, there would certainly need to be a sizable financial benefit to doing so again. At least there would be somewhere to leave personal belongings over the weekend, and a place to cook meals and generally please myself, within the terms of the lease of course.

A hotel or bed and breakfast place may be a little cheaper, but offers even less by way of creature comforts, and much restricted freedom to come and go as I please. Also, there would be a need to transport clothing and the likes to and from the residence every week, and there would be nowhere to cook the few meals I would be willing and able to make for myself. Pot noodles would get boring after a while ;)

Second choice

Buying a second home for the purposes of having a crash pad for work, would require a large investment of cash and an ongoing monthly commitment in the form of mortgage repayments. Done right though, purchasing a place that was in need of a little refurbishment would provide a double whammy in terms of naturally occurring price rises in the value of a property over the term of the mortgage, along with value added as a result of renovating the property.

It would also provide a good base for preparing food and would mean almost as much freedom as being at home, but running two households carries double living costs and requires a substantial outlay in the first place. More capital outlay than I can comfortably commit to at this time. Since reducing the actual mileage traveled seems an unlikely option, what are the options regards modes of transport ?

Less cost per mile

Rail travel is about as indirect as you can get, and would require at least one train change, if not two, and means at least a doubling in journey time in both directions. Savings would not be worth the extra travel time  involved. Buses are even worse with dreadfully long trips both ways, and an increase in transport costs too…. not the desired result. Motorcycles do hold some appeal and whilst cheaper to run, offer reduced road safety for such a long journey. Also this would be a secondary form of transport, as I would still need to run a car for domestic and social reasons back home. All other things considered that leads me to only one realistic alternative to my current mode of transport…. a more fuel efficient car.

Summary: Cutting commuting costs

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