We spend a substantial chunk of our hard earned salary just getting to and from work, especially in the capital where commuters spend an average of £1,500 per year commuting. We've come up with some tips which could get you on the right track to a happier and cheaper commute.
Travelcards or pay as you go?
For many commuters, it can work out both cheaper and easier to buy a weekly or monthly travelcard. Purchasing travel tickets in this way means you can have unlimited travel within that time period or a set travel area. You can also save a lot of money each year by buying an annual season ticket and many employers offer interest-free annual season ticket loans so check if yours does.
However if you don't commute every day, it's worth finding out whether it would be cheaper to pay as you go or take advantage of a daily capping system (such as Transport for London's Oyster Card and contactless daily capping) if it is available to you in your city. This is especially worth looking into if you:
- work part-time;
- work from home some days (even if just one day a week!);
- work shifts; or
- travel during off-peak times.
Cycle to work
If you're a keen cyclist, cycling to work can save you huge amounts of money and, of course, greatly contributes to your daily workout. Find out if your employer offers the cycle to work scheme as part of its benefits package. It allows employees to buy or loan bicycles and accessories tax-free. Different rules may apply depending on the employer so make sure to ask yours for full details and guidance.
Rent a driveway
Did you know that people rent out their driveways? If you drive to work or to a train station and pay to park your car, renting someone's driveway could be a much cheaper solution than using a car park. You can book a space through websites such as JustPark or ParkLet.
Why not rent out yours? If your driveway is free during the day then look into renting out yours to someone. It could help to pay for your own commute.
Coffees and croissants
Many of us fall victim to a hot beverage or snack whilst waiting for the next train and giving in every day can leave quite a dent in your wallet. Simple changes such as making a flask of coffee at home and preparing an on-the-go type breakfast like a toasted sandwich or some fruit can significantly reduce such costs. But if time really isn't on your side and that need for a caffeine fix just won't budge then remember to make use of loyalty card programmes. Most coffee shop chains offer them now and you can get rewarded with anything from a free coffee to a croissant or sandwich on the house so if you're going to spend - spend smart!
Music and television streaming
Smartphones and tablets now provide more opportunity for entertainment on your commute other than reading a paper or a book. You can now listen to music or watch the last episode of your favourite TV drama. But you could get caught out with huge mobile data costs if you're not careful. If you use a music streaming app, find out if you can download music onto your phone or listen offline to save on data usage. Most music and entertainment providers offer this service but subscription fees may apply.
Learning on the go
The biggest hidden cost of the commute is your time, costing Londoners in particular 264 hours each year, so why not put it to some use and get started on some of those New Year's resolutions you're yet to tackle? You could learn a new language or boost your project management skills through websites such as Coursera which offers access to a wide range of courses, a number of which are free, provided by many of the top universities.
If you prefer a lighter read and you have an e-reader, such as a Kindle or Kobo, remember to take advantage of the extensive free or heavily discounted e-books. If audio books are more your thing, there are lots of freebies out there too available through sites such as Audible but again, subscription fees may apply.