Are you driving to work by yourself? There are certainly some inherent advantages of doing that. You get there when you want. You can run errands on the way home. You can blast “What does the Fox Say” and sing along at the top of your lungs – but please, for the love of God, don’t! What you probably aren’t factoring in though is the money it is costing you. Every day. And not just chump change either. Did you know that the average 2 person household spends over $9k a year on transportation costs?!
Chances are your vehicle is the second most expensive thing in your life after your mortgage (unless you have a Great Dane like me:). And each mile you drive isn’t just burning fuel – it’s bringing you that much closer to your next oil change and to your next major repair. Every mile that you carpool will save you real money by avoiding those long term expenses and even cutting those monthly costs associated with commuting. Trust me, there are more expenses that we incur than we realize by driving our four-wheeled boxes to and fro every day.
So what are these extraneous costs you’re dealing with besides gas?
No wonder the IRS reimbursement is 56 cents a mile! Depending on the type of car that you drive this might be close to what you spend per mile. If you drive a car with over 200,000 miles like I do your costs are certainly less than that. No matter what boat you are in though it is worth looking into carpooling. Even though I have incredibly low monthly expenses on my car, even cutting them by a little bit really helps out my bottom line.
So I turned to carpooling. My co-worker Kim moved just a couple of miles away from me a few months back. And it just dawned on us a couple of weeks ago to give that crazy carpooling thing a try. It’s going swimmingly thus far. Amongst all of those decreased financial risks we’ve also enjoyed not sitting in Atlanta traffic behind the wheel every day! We get a nice little respite in the passenger’s seat half the time. We’ve also found some cool new podcasts to listen to (Welcome to Night Vale and The Moth)!
There are other potentially huge benefits to carpooling!
Free money. My state offers straight up cash if you’ll start carpooling and document it. For the first three months I can earn $100 just for carpooling. And after that there are chances to win gift cards to local gas stations. That’s pretty sweet. Check to see if your state offers a similar program.
Getting rid of a car? I know this won’t apply to everyone. But once I’ve gotten a little further down the carpooling road my wife and I are going to have a serious discussion about becoming a one car family. She works from home and we live in a pretty walkable neighborhood. We might be able to cut our transportation costs seriously in half if we are able to cut one vehicle out of our of our lives entirely. We’ll see what happens.
Get to work faster. If you are often stuck in traffic on the way to work carpooling can actually help with that! It certainly helps with your stress level if you are in the passenger seat, but, you might also be eligible to jump into an HOV lane. That can shave some serious minutes off of your daily commute.
Lower your car insurance rates. Many insurers are testing out new programs that could significantly lower your rates if you drive less. Progressive’s Snapshot program is probably the most well known. They’ll give you discounts for driving less, not braking hard, and for not driving late at night. If you are carpooling and on one of these plans you are much more likely to lower your monthly insurance premiums by maximizing that driving less part! Check with your insurer to see if they offer a program like this.
So you see, carpooling has some major benefits! You’ll be spending less every week on gas, every month on insurance, and every year on taxes. Maybe it’s time for you to ask around at work to see if you can form your own little carpooling committee. The more the merrier (because that’s less time you spend driving).
For those of you that still do the old school thing like me and drive to work every day, would you consider carpooling?
[photo courtesy of GeekStats]