How I should be saving on my commute - but am not

5 February 2013

They say nothing in life worth having comes easy. I always assumed this only applied to the big building blocks in life of love, laughter and the like. But it has a much more practical application. 

At the beginning of January I started working here at Moneywise. This move cut my daily commute from an arduous traverse across this vast city via three changes and three different modes of transport to a 20-minute breeze on a single train. 
Great, I thought. My new job will save me time and, so the saying goes, money. 
The former is true. My new commute saves me more than an hour each day, but since the trip to my new office still requires travel five days a week, I am not saving any money. 
As I will inevitably make 10 journeys in a week – which would cost about £25 with my Oyster card – I decided I might as well pay the £30 for a weekly travel card as the £5 difference covers any travel I make outside of work. But to be honest, that fiver is really just paying for the convenience of not having to worry whether there's money on my Oyster or change in my pocket. 
I feel a little bit cheated that the reduction in distance and time for my commute has not resulted in a reduction in cost. But really, I only have myself to blame. 
My old commute meant cycling to work was never an option. It would have meant risking life, limb and getting lost twice daily. So I was happy in the knowledge I had no alternative but to spend money on my commute. But now I know in my heart of hearts, I am pouring money down the tube every day because my workplace is within two-wheeled range. 
It's time I bite the bullet and buy a bike. I have cycled religiously in cities before – York, Cambridge, Cardiff – but there's something particularly intimidating about London. It's more or less a straight road from where I live to my office but it is speckled with junctions and roundabouts, where cyclists and motorists are forced to rub up against each other. 
But if I were to invest in a bike, I would be on my way to saving hundreds of pounds a year. Given I will inevitable make journeys outside of work, I estimate I could still save £20 a week or so. 
And to make me feel yet more guilty about not biking to work, my company has recently enrolled on the government's Cycle to Work scheme where work pays for a new bike tax-free before you pay your employer back in instalments. Cycling to work has never been easier. 
What my tale of very mild commuting woe has taught me is that you can't expect savings to just happen, you have to make them. I could quite easily continue spending a thousand pounds-plus a year on my fairly short commute, guilty in the knowledge I'm paying over the odds for convenience and comfort, or I could take action, push the bike out and make a considerable saving every week.  
So out I go onto the streets clad in lycra and lit up like a Christmas tree. Actually, I might wait until it warms up a bit.