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With the holidays now in the rear-view mirror, this is the time of year when many of us feel the weight of our financial choices. The bills start showing up from holiday expenses and we vow to spend less. In this tight economy, it’s all about stretching our dollars further, right? So, where can we flex our thrifty muscles and make the most impact? How about the daily commute?

How much does it cost the average commuter to drive to and from work each day? Cha-ching! The answer is 54 cents a mile, according to the American Automobile Association and their annual study, Your Driving Costs. That’s based on driving 15,000 miles a year. Now, take that 54 cents and multiply by 40 miles (the average daily roundtrip commute in metro Atlanta): you’re on the hook for nearly $22 each day you commute alone by car. More staggering than the cost of your daily café latte, huh? Factored into that figure are:

  • fuel
  • maintenance costs
  • tires
  • depreciation
  • car loan expenses
  • insurance
  • license and registration expenses

Most of us would shrug our shoulders and say there’s nothing we can do about it: we need wheels to get around. But it’s not about giving up your car outright. It’s about using it less. Fewer miles on your car means savings in all the areas mentioned above with the likely exception of your car note and license/registration. But if you keep it in the driveway more often, you can reduce your insurance premiums and save on gas and maintenance.

For more Georgia commuters, carpooling, riding transit, teleworking or even bicycling could become the next great financial savings strategy during this recession. Take our commute calculator for a spin and see how much you could save over the course of this year by regularly using alternatives to driving alone. If you could save $500 or even $1,000, would you try it? If you could also earn $3 a day from The Clean Air Campaign, up to $100, would that be worth it? Think differently about how you can get ahead financially – and get out of traffic – this year.



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