Around 70% of the UK’s workforce commute on a regular basis. With petrol and train prices rising it is not surprising that the journey to work has become a grind, and a financial worry. But there are steps you can take to address this. Below are five ways to cut the cost of your commute. It won’t make the traffic lights work better, nor ensure you get a seat on the 7.48 train, but at least you won’t be paying more than you have to for a joyless commute.
1. Car share - Splitting the cost of petrol with another passenger can save £800 a year, according to research from Moneysupermarket. The difficult bit might be finding someone to share your journey. If you don’t fancy button-holding everyone in the staff canteen, try Liftshare.com or BlaBlaCar.com. Both “car-pooling’” websites aim to match commuters and they conduct basic identity and security checks.
2. Spend less at the pumps The average household spends almost £35 on petrol a week - that’s £1,775 a year. Whether you fill up with super unleaded or premium diesel use PetrolPrices.com to find out which local garage sells the cheapest fuel. Then make this fuel last up to a third longer by driving more efficiently and reducing the weight of your car.
3. Get the right train ticket - For full-time workers an Annual train or tube ticket should be the cheapest ticket option. You can pay the full cost upfront or get an employer loan, but season tickets cost upwards of £3,000 and many employers do not offer instalment plans. This is why CommuterClub launched their new season ticket instalment plan, allowing ordinary commuters to pay for an Annual in monthly Direct Debit. This is a loan so there is interest to pay, but this is only 5.6% and even including this, it still works out cheaper than buying monthly or weekly tickets - effectively giving commuters a month’s free travel. It combines the savings of an Annual with the flexibility of a monthly as you can stop your payments anytime.
4. Claim a refund - If your train is delayed you are entitled to a refund on the fare. For a Transport for London tube journey, a delay of more than 15 minutes will mean you can be refunded the full cost of the journey regardless of whether you use PayG or a Season ticket. You can submit a claim directly on TfL’s website.
5. Get On Your Bike - Cycling is cheaper, keeps you fit, and you always get a seat. If this is a practical option many employers will offer loans to buy a bike, which are repaid from your pre-tax income, effectively cutting the cost of a new bike by at least 20% or more depending on your tax rate.