How much is commuting costing me?

January 31, 2012

I love swing sets, freshly painted nails, the art of negotiation, and getting lost on road trips. I am afraid of losing friends, heights, and not living up to my potential. Mostly I am afraid of being broke, and doing something mundane, and I am very afraid of mediocrity. I want to be someone who my cousins and siblings look up to. I want to be something or someone that my parents are proud of.  I want to be proud of myself. I do what I can to make sure that these ambitions become reality, and although I rather sit at home and build my life from the ground up, I find myself doing a job that pays the bills, but sucks all the creativity out of me. Being an entrepreneur is difficult, and it requires someone to be either extremely brave, or incredibly foolish; either one will do. I am not that brave, although I have bordered on the foolishness part a few times.

For reasons that most people can not understand I chose to work about an 100 kms away from home. My commute is about 50 mins on a good day,and 2 hours each way on a bad day. By bad day I mean, monday to thursday. I really do enjoy my job. Even though I like the people I work with, and like the work that I do, I despise the fact that my 8 hour work day is about 10-12 hours each day. I know a lot of people commute for work and look at their salary as just that. They don’t factor in the extra costs involved in travelling.

Now you may be asking why I chose to work this way from home. My previous commute was about 8 mins, and I loved it, however the opportunity for growth was almost non existent. Thus I took the plunge and accepted an offer to work in a different city.  And the for the first few months I was perfectly fine with sitting in the car and unwinding after a long day, but as the days get longer, I find the commute to be a extreme waste of time and money.

How is commuting costing me?

I broke down the costs of commuting and the numbers are staggering.

Gas – $500/month. This is a low estimate since I travel a lot after work as well.

Maintenance (oil changes, tires etc) -$3500/year

Depreciation- $2000/year

Insurance -$4000/year . I am a high risk driver, apparently.

Extra time spent commuting- $20000

I took a look at the numbers to analyse what my actual hourly pay is, and clearly it is 30% lower than I had originally thought when I accepted the position. Now for most that wouldn’t be an issue, but I strive for a work life balance. I really enjoy taking part in extra-curricular activities, I volunteer for quite different organizations, and I run a business on the side. I also blog. These things all take time and energy. Time that is being dwindled away sitting in traffic. Time that I will never get back. I have been at my current company for a few years now, and although I love the company, I wouldn’t move away from the city that I live in. My hometown is amazing. It has that the small hometown feel but I have Research In Motion is my backyard. It is such an interesting blend of small town charm and a growing tech sector.

All in all, it is definitely worth the experience that I am gaining,  and I don’t want to sound ungrateful about having such a fantastic job and commuting is only one part of this role.  It is however that part that I truly despise. I have set up a budget according to my salary, and am counting on it to get me to where I want to be. I would leave if I was braver, I would sit at home and build my life from the ground, but I am afraid.


Thirty Six Months

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  • Emily Hunter January 31, 2012 at 10:42 am

    The idiocy of the commute is one of the primary reasons that I quit my job (that, and I read Your Money or Your Life to get the real salary that I was making after expenses) because I was spending a minimum of 1.25 hours on the commute each way. I would get grumpy, and even though I found ways to entertain myself (books on tape, singing songs) I agree with you in that I can’t get that time back. You have to make the choice – I am infinitely less stressed since I went out on my own. Not making much cash, but still happy.

    PS. – check your linking on this post.

    • Emily Hunter January 31, 2012 at 10:43 am

      Sorry to post again – I couldn’t figure out how to edit. I love the new look! 🙂

      • Marissa January 31, 2012 at 5:38 pm

        Aww. Thanks, Emily!

  • Michelle January 31, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Wow commuting is very expensive for you! We probably spend around $900 a month together.

    • Marissa January 31, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      Its the time that adds up really quickly.

  • Hack @ Smart Money Hacks January 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Wow, that commute is really eating away at your time and budget! I would do it for short term (6 mo to a year) but in the meantime, I would be looking for a way to ditch the drive!

    • Marissa January 31, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Thats where Im at right. 2 years is my max.

  • Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer January 31, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    You either need to find a job closer to home or move closer to your job. It took me 13 years to move closer to my job and we couldn’t believe what difference that made in quality of life.

    • Marissa January 31, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      I find myself wanting to work closer to home now. I love being close to my family.

  • Eric January 31, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    I am about 15 miles from work and live in a Denver where I get plenty of snow and long drives. I feel for you.

    • Marissa January 31, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      I didn’t know that you’re in Denver. Im assuming that the FINCON after party will be at your place 🙂

  • Jana @ Daily Money Shot January 31, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    I don’t have a long commute like you do, but it’s long enough. Well, if it weren’t for traffic, it’d be about 15 minutes but traffic essentially doubles that time. I find my commute to be a waste of my time so what I’ve taken to doing is using that time to think about what I’m going to do on my blog and with my business. I use that time to formulate post ideas and design ideas, and what I want to do next.

    If it helps, I appreciate my job and I am afraid of what’s going to happen if I leave. But I know I won’t be happy until I give it a try.

    • Marissa January 31, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Im with you there. If I was so chicken- I’d be trying to go at it solo.

  • Newlyweds on a Budget January 31, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I can’t stand commuting. The longest I’ve ever had to drive was an hour in college for an internship, but it was against traffic.
    More recently, my longest commute was 45 minutes and i HATED it. i now commute 20 minutes, and I made a requirement that our new place couldn’t be longer than a 20-minute commute away. In 3 weeks, it will only take me 10 minutes to get to work!

    Bare down, and hopefully this isn’t super long term, right?

    • Marissa January 31, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      You’re moving?! Congrats! Im starting the search closer to home. Hopefully it sorts itself out soon.

  • Daisy January 31, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I did this calculation awhile ago and I wanted to die when I saw the outcome. Luckily we have, as of today, moved closer to my work because I was spending 3.5 hours daily in the car when I could have been doing homework. My quality of life was suffering all because I wanted to get ahead by taking this internship.

    It’s frustrating, but I’m sure it will pay off!

    • Marissa January 31, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Congrats on the move! I get what you mean by quality of life suffereing. 4 hours a day is A LOT of time to waste sitting in the car.

  • Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals January 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    In a way, I’m jealous of your commute. I have two young children and rarely spend any time alone anymore – maybe even time in a traffic jam would be worth it for some (sorta) peace and some (kinda) quiet.

    That said, $4,000 is a LOT for insurance! WOWSA!

    • Marissa January 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Honestly, driving in the snow everyday isn’t that much fun. I do enjoy the conversations that I have with the radio tho.

  • Tina January 31, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Fuel prices are a joke here in London the prices are higher something like 68% tax and even the trains are not much cheaper I have friends who’s are paying £4000 a year on train fares for a 50 mile journey

  • Bridget February 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I’m so spoiled with the shortest commute of all-time (about 15 minutes — and that’s from locking my front door to unlocking my office door). I never want to drive to work, or even take a lengthly public transit ride. I want to be walking distance.

    But I’ve also never been offered a job where commuting was a big factor. I think I could be bribed into a commute if all other aspects of the position were good — but I’d still make it a priority to find a way to be as close to work as possible.

    It’s a tough call. 2hrs is a really long time though.. wow

    • Marissa February 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      I would love to be that close to work. It was only 45 mins today, so I count the little things.

  • kErickson February 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I totally agree with you. It is so cool to find people who agree with me! I have crunched the numbers and over the last 20 or so years there has been a strong negative relationship between miles driven in the US and the household savings rate. I have posted the numbers on my blog:

    But in the past year I have noticed that driving has gone down lower while employment has gone up. There seems to be a change that has happened in the US. People are not willing to drive as far for their work. I personally changed jobs (and got a pay-bump) for 5 miles less on my commute (which matters in rush hour). I had thought that commuting might go up because people want to find any job they can, but it doesn’t seem this way.