Returning to the office? Here’s 7 ways to save cash on your commute


Written by:

First, there’s the per-mile cost of gasoline. Commuting to work is a major portion of all driving in the United States. But a hidden cost of driving is depreciation, a car’s loss in value over time. It’s the largest annual cost of car ownership, according to AAA, accounting for more than a third of the average annual cost. Add increased maintenance and repair costs of cars as they age and are driven more frequently.

AAA pegged maintenance and repair costs at almost 9.68 cents per mile and fuel costs at 17.99 cents per mile, meaning that beyond fixed costs of car ownership, a 15-mile one-way commute would cost about $8.30 a day and, at around 250 days of work a year, $2,075.25 annually, before expenses like auto depreciation, tolls, and insurance.

The easiest way to reduce these costs is to minimize or eliminate a commute to work.

Image Credit: Prostock-Studio/istockphoto.

1. Aiming for a ‘Remote First’ Culture

Working remotely part- or full-time is a surefire way to cut commuting time and costs. The easiest way to maximize working from home is to find a job at a company where it’s standard. This option has become popular since the pandemic.

If your work makes it possible to work from home sometimes, you may want to try to make it a regular occurrence. That way you can more easily optimize your time spent in the office and save tasks best for home for the day you regularly work from home.

If you work from home regularly, it also means you can get better at it, from setting up a home office that truly works to figuring out how working at home can make you more productive than working in the office, not merely save you the time and money of a long commute — although that’s important, too. There are also possible home office tax deductions.

Of course, the easiest way to save money commuting to work is not to do it at all. This not only spares the cost of gas, maintenance, subway tickets, or bus fare, but it also saves precious time.

The money that would have been spent on a commute to work can be put in a savings account to hit other savings goals.

Image Credit: PeopleImages/istockphoto.

2. Living Closer to the Job

One of the most obvious ways to reduce commute time is to make it so your car is less expensive.

There are roughly two ways to do this: Drive less or drive less expensively.

The easiest way to drive less is to live closer to work. While that may save money on gas and maintenance, it could end up being more expensive to live closer to work, especially in a large city.

One of the main amenities people seek when deciding where to live is distance from their job. If you work near where a lot of other people work, trying to live near that job is likely to be pricey as the cost of living may be higher.

So how to make driving less expensive if you can’t reduce the amount of driving necessary to get work? Get someone else to drive, at least some of the time, or drive cheaply.

Image Credit: oatawa/istockphoto.

3. Giving Carpooling a Spin

Carpooling means a shared ride to and from work, typically with someone who works in the same area or nearby.

Carpooling doesn’t magically get rid of the costs of commuting to work, but it can distribute them among riders or reduce them. Gas costs can be split, and maintenance costs can be reduced as the car is operated less frequently.

Even if you’re the one driving, you can often get access to high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, which means less time on the road and less time stalled in traffic.

Image Credit: AndreyPopov/istockphoto.

4. Getting a Cheaper Car

Let’s say you have no choice about how far you have to drive and how frequently you have to do it. That may be a bummer, but it doesn’t mean you’re out of options for saving money. Some cars are cheaper to operate than others, and there are wide variations between them. Basically, smaller is better.

For new cars, according to AAA, a small sedan is the cheapest to own, costing $54.56 per mile, even less than hybrids (64.61 cents) and electric (60.32 cents) vehicles.

More numbers to know: the costs for small SUVs (62.17 cents per mile) and medium sedans (69.01 cents).

There are, of course, other ways to get around besides a car.

Image Credit: SouthWorks/istockphoto.

5. Taking Public Transportation

About 5% of commuters are straphangers, bus riders, and other transit users, according to U.S. Census data. While a mass-transit commute to work is not costless, it can certainly save money on a per-trip basis.

Even if you own a car, using mass transit (or driving to a transit stop) won’t spare you from insurance, the cost of a new car, or depreciation, but the costs of car ownership associated with actual driving (gas, maintenance, etc.) will go down.

The only downside is that the ability to commute to work by public transit is often largely determined by locale. Someone who works in an area with a public transit system that serves the office can choose to live somewhere with efficient access to that system.

This will likely be in or near a large city, where the share of commuters who use public transit is far higher than the 5% national average.

If you work in a city like New York, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, or Baltimore, public transit might be an efficient commuting option.

And although public transit may not entirely remove the need for a car, it could make it so a household with two adults only needs a single car, vastly reducing the cost of car ownership.

Finally, some companies offer commuter benefits, such as pretax income to be spent on costs related to the commute.

Image Credit: Halfpoint/istockphoto.

6. Doing the Legwork

Often the most affordable way to get to work is without a car; that means by foot, bicycle, or some other non-internal-combustion vehicle. Biking may be impractical or stressful in many parts of the country.

Still, some commuters are up for the challenge. Cycling provides an aerobic workout and triggers the release of endorphins, builds muscle, and increases bone density.

Rolling road warriors may want to invest in a variety of gear (safety and comfort can be enhanced), whose price tags are mitigated by a lack of car-related bills.

Image Credit: dusanpetkovic/istockphoto.

7. Tracking Expenses

To reduce costs, commuters have to first get a handle on their spending, whether for gas, maintenance, or mass transit — or even coffees, snacks, and lunches on the job. Creating a budget and accounting for where your money goes is an important step.

This can help you see where your money is spent and make adjustments to maximize your buying and saving power. For instance, you might decide it’s worthwhile to buy your gas from a lower-priced gas station or apply for a gas credit card.

Image Credit: megaflopp/istockphoto.

The Takeaway

By better understanding the cost of commuting, you can make wise decisions about lowering your costs and saving money on this often-daily expense. From working from home when possible to carpooling and beyond, there are ways to keep your costs down.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 4.30% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 6/9/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Image Credit: Prostock-Studio/istockphoto.

More from MediaFeed

The sneaky ways remote work could be hurting your career & finances

Image Credit: Caiaimage/Chris Ryan/istockphoto.