America is unique from the rest of the world in the sense that we associate driving with freedom. From speeding to the movies at sixteen, to road trips in college, to a comfortable family life in the suburbs, it is almost un-American to minimize your driving. Throughout the rest of the world, even the wealthy live close to work – commuting via train, bus, or bicycle.
But not in America! Staying true to our wild west, roaming cowboy heritage, we embrace the mobile lifestyle. From our first car, to our retirement motorhome, travel seems to be one of the foundational pillars of the American way.
Don’t get me wrong, spending money on travel is almost always worth it – as the adventures and stories last far longer than any material object. But a financial dilemma arises; not from the money you deliberately put into travel, but from the unknown cost associated with your daily commute.
Most people in the United States commute 15 to 90 minutes to work – each way, every day. If this is you, these following paragraphs may inspire you to make a few lifestyle changes.
Commuting Cost #1: Your Car
According to the IRS, every mile driven is worth $0.51. This amount includes fuel prices, regular wear-and-tear to your vehicle, and the cost of insurance and registration. Depending on where you live, you may be paying more or less than this amount. However, this government-approved mileage fee makes doing the math easy – because it implies that you pay just over $1 (roundtrip) for every mile that your house is from your office.
Therefore, a twenty mile commute costs you $20 every day. A forty mile commute racks up to $40 a day in car expenses. Multiply this dollar amount by 5 days a week, or 250 days a year, and the true cost of your commute becomes very apparent. That 20 mile commute costs $5,000 a year. Meanwhile, if you commute 40 miles each way, you’re spending $10,000 each and every year!
Commuting Cost #2: Your Time
Sadly, the cost associated with your vehicle isn’t half of it. Most people completely forget to incorporate their time into their commuting costs. Someone who drives 30 minutes each way loses 5 hours of time every week. Meanwhile, a 60 minute commute results in 10 hours of unproductive time each week – or an entire workweek every month. This 30 minute commute adds up to 250 hours every year, while the 60 minute commute sums to 500 hours a year.
If you take these numbers and multiply them by your hourly wage you can discover the true cost of your commute. Of course, you probably wouldn’t spend this extra commuting time working for your company, but it is still valuable time that could be spent with family, on hobbies, or doing freelance work on the side.
The Annual Cost of Your 20 Mile Commute – $11,250
If you make $25 an hour, your 20 mile, 30 minute commute costs you $11,250 a year.
So, before you take that job in the next town over, or decide to move your family out to the country, do some quick math to discover the costs associated with your new commute. It would be miserable to realize that your new job is resulting in less time at home, less money being saved, and more problems.
Do you consider your commuting costs when looking for a new job or home? What are you spending on your current commute? You may discover that you could save more by living closer to work – even if housing was $100 more a month.
What do you think? I would love to hear your input on this topic! Please share in the comments section below.