Shorter Commutes: Eco-Friendly Money Savings

Shorter Commutes: Eco-Friendly Money Savings

Part of a home’s environmental footprint is its design, but its location is crucial too – a home that minimizes the need for driving will always be “greener”.  Fortunately, you can also save a huge amount of money by cutting your automobile commuting.

Besides buying a home, car purchases are the biggest transactions most consumers will ever make.  Some of the costs of car ownership are hidden, and some are pretty obvious (if you’re actually paying attention).  But based on some number crunching from the no-nonsense economist/financial advisor Mr. Money Mustache, a two-car family could be looking at spending a whopping $125,000 over 10 years.

Shorter Commutes: Eco-Friendly Money Savings

That figure may seem outlandish, until you look at the numbers yourself.  Imagine a 19-mile, 40-minute commute to work (pretty common for a lot of people).  Based on the IRS estimate of vehicle ownership cost ($0.51 per mile), that’s $19 per day.  And 80 minutes in the car basically equals an extra workday each week, or 1.3 years over a decade that you could have been working and getting paid instead of sitting in traffic.  Add it up and you get $75,000 over 10 years, or $125,000 for a couple.  Yikes.

“Fine, but my costs are much more modest than that,” you may be thinking.  Even so, biking or taking the bus can still save you a big stack of cash.  As Mr. Money Mustache points out, even a no-frills car that you own outright carries costs that add up pretty quickly:

“Gas, at $3.50 per 35 miles (assuming 35MPG), is 10 cents/mile

Tires, at $300 per 50,000 miles are 0.6 cents

Oil, at $25 per 5,000 miles is 0.5 cents

Miscellaneous things like wipers and occasional maintenance visits: $200 per 20,000 miles = 1 cent

So the ultimate cheap driving in a paid-off economy car still costs at least 17 cents per mile.”

Which means that while you might be able to cut costs by more than half, a car will still be a pretty pricey way to get around day to day.

On a related (and ironic) note, just a few days ago Huffington Post reported that the folks at General Motors have pulled a controversial ad aimed at young car buyers.  The ad depicted an embarrassed male cyclist being passed by a cute girl in a car.  The implication that biking is uncool quickly drew fire from many angles, and bike manufacturer Giant responded with a well-timed parody ad of its own (Mr. Money Mustache and Giant are clearly in agreement here).

Shorter Commutes: Eco-Friendly Money Savings

So what’s the solution?  Well, not everybody can simply get rid of their cars, and that’s OK.  But could you take better advantage of public transportation?  Walk or cycle to your office or the store?  What about living close to your work (or working close to your home)?  The payoff of shorter commutes could be much bigger than you ever realized.

(via Mr. Money Mustache)