“The True Cost of Commuting”

I stumbled upon a blog posting that really caught my attention.

The True Cost of Commuting” by Mr. Money Mustache (Putting the Cash in your ‘Stash) details what folks really end up paying when they commute long distances.

The example he uses is a couple who want to move to Mustache’s hometown because they like the feel of the neighborhood. But they work 40 minutes away. To them, it’s not a big deal. Mustache disagrees and explains what it will cost them in money and time:

“Let’s take a typical day’s drive for this self-destructive couple. Adding 38 miles of round-trip driving at the IRS’s estimate of total driving cost of $0.51 per mile, there’s $19 per day of direct driving and car ownership costs. It is possible to drive for less, but these people happen to have fairly new cars, bought on credit, so they are wasting the full amount.

Next is the actual human time wasted. At 80 minutes per day, the self-imposed driving would be adding the equivalent of almost an entire work day to each work week – so they would now effectively be working 6 workdays per week.

After 10 years, multiplied across two cars since they have different work schedules, this decision would cost them about $125,000 in wealth (if they had for example chosen to put the $19/day into extra payments on their mortgage), and 1.3 working years worth of time, EACH, spent risking their lives daily behind the wheel*.

That’s EVERY ten years. And that’s with a commute that most Americans claim is “not too bad”.”

There’s much more detail in his post and he offers his recommendations on how to cut your commute. His lifestyle may be extreme for many but apparently he was able to retire in his 30s.

This reminds me of a book that I read years ago, “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. That book got me thinking about what I wanted out of life.

I spent 20 years commuting 70 miles roundtrip every day and it does take a huge toll – money, time, health, stress. Only after I stopped commuting did I figure out that my 1.5 hr commute every day (7.5 hours per week) added up to 375 hours per year (given 2 weeks vacation). That’s 9.3 weeks!

Some people say they have no choice but to work long hours and commute long distances and that may be true for a small number. But we really have more choices than we realize.

The comments at the end of the posting are really interesting too.

What do you think?



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