How to cut the cost of your commute
Save yourself money and lower your stress levels each morning by finding cheaper ways of getting to work
1. Join - or start - a car-share scheme
Car-sharing schemes, or carpooling, involve two or more people agreeing to share a journey into work together. This might be in just one car or using a different vehicle each day.
This type of scheme allows individuals to benefit from the convenience of driving to work, without having full responsibility for the petrol costs.
As well as saving money, car-share schemes give you the chance to relax in the passenger seat – and it’s better for the environment too.
If you don’t have friends who live near enough to you, you could still share your commute by going to liftshare.com. To find a suitable car buddy just sign up for free.
And if you don't have a car, then you might be able to find someone who is happy to drive as long as you split the cost of the petrol.
2. Get on your bike
Cycling or walking to work isn’t an option for everyone, but if you don’t live too far from your job, it’s not only highly cost-effective, but also a great way to get some exercise.
Walkit.com is an urban walking route-planner covering 16 UK cities. Type in the postcode of your starting point and destination, and the website will give you a choice of direct or less busy routes.
If biking is more your cup of tea, find out whether your employer is part of the government's 'Cycle to Work' initiative. This allows you to put a given proportion of your salary aside, usually for a fixed 12-month period, in return for a bike on day one.
You can then ride the bike to work, benefiting not only from the saving on fuel and parking charges, but also from the fact it’s been paid for out of your pre-taxed income. This means that not only are you not paying interest on a loan, you are effectively buying it tax-free.
Go to Cyclescheme for more information.
3. Don't pay over the odds for public transport
Provided you make enough journeys, buying a travelcard always works out cheaper than pay-as-you-go. Opting for a weekly or monthly card will save you money, but for the bigger savings, buy an annual pass.
For example, an annual travelcard that covers zones 1 - 6 on the London Underground costs £1,904, compared with a monthly travelcard costing £182.80 – an overall saving of £289.60 a year.
Of course, stumping up for an annual pass can be painful on the old bank balance. Ask your employer if it offers an interest-free season ticket loan.
Another way to reduce your monthly or annual train or tube ticket is to see if you could get a cheaper fare by travelling from a different station. For example, people living in zone five in London might benefit from walking or cycling to a station in zone four.
4. Cut your car-parking bill
If your company doesn’t provide free parking, you will have to pay a lot for a season ticket with a private car-parking firm.
The alternative is to look for a cheap or free parking space every morning. Registering with a home-parking scheme reduces the cost and the stress – use parkatmyhouse.com or yourparkingspace.co.uk to search for suitable driveways close to your workplace.
Prices will vary depending on the location.
5. Join a car club
If you can drive but don't want the hassle or expense of owning a car, then a car club might be up your street. Pay-as-you-drive car clubs are also a convenient alternative for those who only need a car on special occasions or for a few times a week.
Studies from streetcar.co.uk also show that car-sharing significantly reduces the number of cars on the road. For every car pool, an average of six private cars are taken off the road.
Three national companies cover various cities in the UK:
Annual membership costs around £50, depending on the website, and insurance is included. Hiring a car for one hour starts at around a fiver, and the more hours you drive, the lower the cost.