The Cost of Commuting

Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2021

A ton of people spending hours in their cars to get to work

This past year has been tough on everyone. Not only have people had to struggle to keep control of their personal lives, but many also had their jobs completely thrown into disarray as well.

An unexpected result of the pandemic has been seeing a ton of jobs, including my own, transition to a complete work from home format.

The impacts of that drastic and sudden change will be discussed for years to come, but as companies begin to usher people back into the office I want to talk about the unexpected realization I had about the cost of commuting.

Time is Money

A very simple and clean looking clock

We all know the saying "Time is money", but this past year it's felt more real than ever for me.

A year of working from home made me realize just how much of my life is dedicated to working.

I not only work 40+ hours a week every week, but I also spent 2+ hours a day commuting to and from the office.

That ends up being about 10 hours a week, which ends up being somewhere south of 520 hours a year, which comes out to be 21 days.

21 days each year dedicated to traveling back and forth to a job I spend around 24% of every week working.

No one talks about the cost of commuting. The percentage of your life you sacrifice just to be able to work and sacrifice an even bigger percentage of your life.

That's time I could be using to get more rest, enjoying a hobby, spending time with my family, working on a personal project, or any other number of activities te.

I understand that I was very privileged to be able to do my job from home in the first place, but now I don't ever want to go back to the office.

The arguments of wanting to see and work with people in person and separating your place of work from your living space are valid, but I would sacrifice all of that just to get time back.

The main reason I strive for FIRE is so I can do what I want when I want. I want to reclaim my time and use it for things that only provide me enjoyment.

Money is Money

A stack of coins

Yes, time is money, but money is also money, and I think this applies to this conversation in several different ways.

For one, as I already mentioned in my post explaining why I'm not getting a Tesla, having a car is expensive. In Seattle owning a car means expensive parking spots (even a parking spot at work can cost a monthly fee), the cost of gas, insurance, and a ton of other fees.

Commuting means whether it's time or money, you're paying a decent amount for the opportunity to work and make money.

Sure, you don't need to own a car, but any other method of transportation is adding even more time to your commute.

Second, remember how I said I waste about 21 days each year commuting? Imagine how much we could benefit financially by taking that time spent commuting and reinvesting it into ourselves.

That could mean getting more rest so we can be the best version of ourselves, spending time learning and becoming better at our primary jobs, or working towards building up alternate sources of income.

Finally, at the end of the day, we all need to financially support ourselves and most people just don't have the option to work from home. A lot of jobs just aren't built for it, and even a lot of the ones that are will likely see pushback from employers.

There's realistically no future where anyone that wants to work from home can just do it. This will always need to be a necessary evil for the majority of people.

The True Reason for FIRE

A fire, the metaphorical representation of financial independence I guess

There are a lot of different ideas and moving parts to think about when looking at the concept of working from home, and how much of an impact just the act of commuting to work can have on your life, but none of that matters as long as your employer is in control of when and where you work.

That's where I start getting excited about FIRE.

For me, it's not really about becoming rich or quitting work entirely. It's about building a life around a schedule I'm comfortable with.

It's about taking back my time and spending my hours how I want to spend them.

As rough and depressing as the pandemic was, there were some bright spots I was able to take from it. And now I am more motivated than ever to reach my FIRE goal and start blazing my own life path with no strings attached.

How do you feel about commuting to work? Do you dislike it? Or do you not mind it as much? Reach out to me and let me know!


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