Did you know that this week is America Saves Week, sponsored by the Consumer Federation of America? This national campaign promotes saving money and reducing debt, and encourages individuals to start taking the necessary steps towards building wealth. The America Saves website provides several resources and tips on saving money, as well as ideas on things to save for, such as getting out of debt, retirement, or buying a home. This initiative is a great way to increase awareness debt reduction and to help people start saving money. The site provides a page with “54 Ways to Save Money”, which offers interesting and helpful ideas to save, such creating monthly budgets or going out to eat one less time each month. However, the staff at ATP felt that the “Transportation” section could use some more ideas that don’t involve driving alone. Read below for more details and information about transportation’s financial impact and how non-SOV (single occupancy vehicle) modes can be a boon for your wallet!
Transportation is the second largest expenditure for American families after housing, spending on average 18% of their income on travel costs. In the DC region, households in certain areas are spending over 45% of their income on housing and transportation combined, making it difficult for families and individuals to purchase other living necessities, much less save money for retirement or an emergency fund. The high cost of transportation can often be attributed to the high costs associated with owning and driving a car. According to the American Public Transportation Association, switching to public transit can save drivers nearly $10,000 a year in the DC area. This number includes gas expenses as well as insurance, maintenance, fees, and parking costs. As discussed by Todd Litman, households that live in areas with access to public transit typically spend less on transportation due to the availability of more affordable travel options.
With an extra few thousand dollars, what would you save for? While tips such as keeping your car tires inflated and comparing gas station prices can lower costs, reducing your automobile use and taking public transit, carpooling, biking, or walking instead can help you start saving now for the long term. Not to mention incorporating active transportation into your commute can save you money by giving up that monthly gym membership or exercise classes! Also, check with your employer to see if they offer a commuter benefit – either a direct subsidy or a pre-tax amount that will cover your transportation costs to and from work on public transit, vanpooling, or biking.
Participate in America Saves Week and start saving today by leaving your car at home! You don’t have to give up driving entirely – start by trying transit or other alternative modes of transportation once or twice a week; the more you do it, the quicker you’ll start to see more money in your checking account.
Happy saving commuters!