The Commuting Issue

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

This morning, I was stuck in my apartment elevator for 30 minutes. I spent this time, of course, thinking about commuting and happy that my commute is normally only 10 minutes and involves no cars, buses, trains or subways. I moved my apartment next to my office so that I could spend maximum time with my family and friends. I am one of the lucky few who enjoys the trip to and from work.

However, commuting is just one of those things almost all Americans deal with . . . yet few take an in-depth look at the true effects of commuting on their lives. Because not only can commuting be a hassle, a nuisance and a time consuming endeavor — it can be expensive as well. Breaking it down into commuting cost and salary, you may find that your current situation is far from ideal.

Commuting costs are things like gas, car insurance and maintenance, train or subway passes or tickets – whatever applies in your specific situation. You may need to add another car to your household solely to handle the commute. Add to this the time you spend getting to and from work, and you should have a rough estimate of how much your time on the road costs you.

Then consider your salary. How much is left after you have paid taxes and commuting expenses? Could you get a similar job closer to home and save money? And if that is not an option, could you move closer to work and save money that way?

It is important to keep in mind, though, that these aren’t the only factors to consider. Where you choose to live and work is about much more than just money. When adding to the pot your children’s school and spouse’s commute, plus personal factors such as the fact that you happen to love your job and the community you live in, things get even complicated.

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