Tips for Easy Living

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How to cut your commuting costs

A daily commute can be physically stressful, but many people find their daily trek to work financially taxing as well. Commuting costs have risen considerably over the last decade-plus, as higher fuel costs have eaten into many household budgets.

But commuters accustomed to grinning and bearing it with regard to their daily grind might be surprised to learn that there are some ways they can cut their commuting costs and possibly even reduce some of the physical stress stemming from their daily odysseys to and from the office. The following are a handful of ways to trim the costs of your daily commute.

* Establish a ridesharing program at your office. Research from the Center for Transportation at the Washington Policy Center in Seattle has shown that carpooling to work can be as much as 61 percent cheaper than driving alone. Many highways feature commuter lanes that are exclusive to vehicles with two or more passengers. Veteran commuters know that such lanes tend to be the least congested lanes on the highway, so taking advantage of the commuter lane by sharing rides with one or more coworkers can save time as well as money. The benefits of ridesharing are numerous, and include saving money on fuel (sharing driving duties with just a single coworker immediately cuts your commuter fuel costs in half); extends the life of your vehicle by reducing daily wear and tear; and also allows you one or two days a week to unwind during your commute while someone else takes the wheel.

* Ride a bike. Admittedly, men and women who aren't entirely healthy or those who live especially far away from the office or in regions where the weather is often unpleasant may not be able to turn their bicycles into tools for cutting the costs associated with their commutes. But riding a bicycle to the office each day will cut your commute-related fuel costs by 100 percent while also providing a boost to your cardiovascular system. Regular cardiovascular exercise has been shown to reduce risk a person's for various conditions, including heart disease, while also reducing stress. Even riding a bike to the office twice a week can cut your commute-related fuel costs by 40 percent, so if cycling to work is a realistic possibility for you, give it a try.

* Propose the idea of telecommuting to your employer. Many employers have grown more lax with regard to employees working from home. Some employers recognize that less strict telecommuting policies make for happier and more loyal employees, who can drastically reduce their childcare costs in addition to commuting costs by working from home. In addition, employers can benefit by moving into smaller offices with more affordable rents. Telecommuting one or two days a week can save you a substantial amount of money, so propose the idea to your employer, even suggesting a trial period to see if it's a viable option before either side makes a full commitment.

* Change your hours. Technology has made it easier than ever before for companies to abandon the typical 9-to-5 workday. Employees can now connect to company networks via external server connections at any time of day and even contact one another via email applications on their smartphones regardless of the time of day. Flex time, in which employees are allowed to work flexible schedules so long as their work is getting done, enables employees to commute to and from the office during off-peak hours when roads are less congested than they are during rush hour. This saves you the time you spend sitting in rush hour traffic while also cutting back on fuel consumption that only increases the more your car sits idling in traffic.

Commuting costs are on the rise, but there are numerous creative ways for working men and women to cut these costs.