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February 13, 2009

9 Ways to Save Money on Your Commute

cheap gas

Many Websites are tracking gas prices across the country so you can check the cheapest and the priciest pumps in your neighborhood. Log on to gasbuddy.com or gaspricewatch.com to find out exactly where to fill up for less.

Photo Credit: Tim McCaig/istock

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1. According to the American Automobile Association, it costs an average of 54.1 cents per mile to drive a car as of 2008 — that's $5453 annually. Ridesharing with one other person can save you $2726. If the thought of carpooling to work with the antiperspirant-averse guy from the office makes you a little ill, see if you can work out an arrangement with friends you don't work with. Feeling adventurous? Try erideshare.com to hitch a ride with a stranger.

2. If possible, commit to a seasonal or monthly pass for the train or bus you take every day. It'll save you cash in the long run — but make sure not to buy one for periods of time when you know you have a vacation or days off scheduled, so you're not paying for days you're not commuting.

3. Don't call in sick to save on your commute. But if you stick to a 9-5 schedule at the office and your job is telecommuting-friendly, consider asking your boss to let you work from home once a week. Or try to get a longer weekend and put in an extended workday four days a week so that you can take one day off. Just don't push it — you still want your boss to remember that you work there.

4. Cut gas costs by keeping your heater or AC on only long enough to get your car the right temperature, and then turn them off. Better yet, if you're trying to cool off, take advantage of Mother Nature's natural air-conditioning and roll down the windows.

5. Depending on where you live and your public transit system, if you lose a seasonal, monthly, or weekly bus or train pass, you may be able to get your money back — as long as you have proof of purchase. If you're the scatterbrained type, put ticket purchases on your credit card to keep a record of them so that you don't end up paying for what you don't use — you may even be able to register your train or bus pass online as soon as you buy it.

6. We're not suggested you walk seven miles home from work every night, but if you're taking a train or bus, double-check the route and find out at which point your fare goes up. If you can save a few bucks a day by getting off two blocks earlier, it might be worth the extra cash.

7. Ask your Human Resources department about company benefits that might subsidize your commuting costs. They might also offer car service if you work past a certain time in the evenings.

8. Ditch the road rage — speeding (over 75mph) and rapidly accelerating and slamming on your brakes is eating away at your car's fuel efficiency. So keep your cool, and keep your speed steady. And make sure your tires are properly inflated — flatter tires can also decrease fuel efficiency.

9. Be familiar with local gas prices. It pays to know if the gas station two blocks away from the one you go to now charges less per gallon. Find the cheapest gas prices in your city at gasbuddy.com.

What recession? Keep your wallet padded with 41 more tips for saving money on clothes shopping, your grocery shopping and eating out, taxes, and your energy bill.

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