ROSELAND– Commuting can be an expensive proposition. Not only do you have to deal with fluctuating gas prices, there are also tolls, parking and car maintenance to consider. That’s why the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJSCPA) offers these tips on minimizing the cost of getting to and from work:
Use the Buddy System
Carpooling allows you to share the costs with others, cutting your expenses by half or more, depending on how many people you travel with. If you take turns driving in different cars, you’re also putting fewer miles on your own vehicle, which can extend its life. One added bonus — you’re helping the environment by putting fewer cars on the road and using less fuel.
Take Public Transportation
Check out public transportation options. These can frequently be less expensive than driving, and while they offer less flexibility they definitely can cut down on the hassle of dealing with traffic and parking challenges.
Work from Home
Telecommuting has taken off as a convenient and less expensive way to get down to business. According to recent U.S. Census Bureau data, about 2.5 million employees do most of their work in a home office, not including those who are self-employed. That doesn’t include many others who work from home one or more days a week, but it’s clear that the popularity of this option is growing. Employees save not only on gas, tolls and parking expenses, but potentially on business attire and meals. There are many advantages for employers, too, who can cut down on office space and related costs. That can add up to $5,000 per employee per year, according to Cornell University, with another potential savings of up to $10,000 per employee due to reduced absenteeism and turnover. If you want to make the case for telecommuting — or if you own a small business yourself — these can be compelling numbers.
Improve Your Fuel Efficiency
A hybrid or other fuel efficient car will help lower your gas costs, but there are other ways to get the most bang for your buck at the pump. Simply keeping your car in shape with properly inflated tires, for example, can maximize performance. Adjusting your schedule to avoid rush hour will reduce the time you spend idling in traffic and the gas you use while doing so. In addition, if you’re toting a lot of cargo in your trunk that you really don’t need, unloading it will decrease the energy your car needs to get around.
Search Cost-Cutting Benefits
Many employers allow workers to use pretax dollars to buy transit passes or offer similar benefits, so be sure to cash in on these options if they’re available, or ask your employer about initiating these programs if they’re not. Also, let your car insurance company know if you have reduced your regular commute. You may be able to obtain a low-mileage discount or other insurance savings. Fare discounts or lower-priced passes are often available to seniors and students. In addition, an employee who uses a bicycle to commute to work may be entitled to a “bicycle commuting reimbursement” not to exceed $20 per month.
Consult Your CPA
Every day, CPAs help their clients make the best financial choices. If you have questions about the smartest way to cut costs, maximize savings, handle taxes, manage debt, save for retirement, college or some other cherished goal, turn to your local CPA. He or she has the expertise to help you make sound financial decisions.
If you don’t have a CPA, you can easily locate one online using the NJSCPA’s free, online Find-A-CPA service. Just go to www.findacpa.org, and in a few clicks you can locate a highly qualified professional who can assist you.
For more information on various personal financial matters, visit the NJSCPA’s public service website at www.MoneyMattersNJ.com. While visiting, you can subscribe to Your Money Matters, the NJSCPA’s free, monthly email
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