How much is your commute costing you?


Many of us spend hours each week sitting behind the wheel of a car, travelling to and from work. But what is the cost of all that driving? How much of a difference does it actually make?

How much commute cost UK
Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Inspired somewhat by my previous blog post, and as someone who has recently moved jobs, I'm very aware of the difference in my journey time now, compared to a year ago. I started thinking about the money I spend just to travel to and from work each day.

There is room here for a bit of good old number crunching. How much does it cost to drive to work every day? What is the financial impact of having a long commute, and how much of a factor should it be in decisions around employment?

I’m going to work it out for myself, which is not far off the average journey time to and from work in the UK today. Let’s break it down into elements: 


Fuel

First of all, the drive to work means that there is a cost in petrol. My car does just over 40mpg which isn’t spectacular, but not disastrous either. It also has a handy reading which tells me how many miles until I need to fill up. After I fill up for around £50, it usually reads roughly 400 miles. That works out at 12.5p per mile.

My journey distance is around 20 miles each way, so handily that is £5 per day in petrol.


Parking

Commute Cost UK Driving
Photo by Ryan Searle on Unsplash

I also work in the city centre, which means parking is a bit of an issue. I have to pay £3.75 per day to park, I’m rounding this up to £4, partly because it makes the maths easier, and partly because I tend to get a parking ticket every so often which ramps up the average price!


Other car costs

Now this is where it gets a little more subjective. There are clearly other costs associated with driving your car, which are dependent on how far you go. Insurance, tyre changes, general wear and tear, all increase if you drive more. This needs to be factored in.

Tyre changes are (very roughly) every 25,000 miles or so. This of course depends on how good the tyres are, how often you drive and loads of other things. But we are estimating here. Around £50 per tyre the last time I got them changed gives me 0.8p per mile. 

Other maintenance costs are even harder to estimate. It depends on so many factors that the only thing I will do is add an extra 1p per mile. It’s an estimate, but for oil, wiper blades, etc it seems fairly sensible.


Car depreciation


Your car loses value depending on how much you drive it. Again I can only estimate for my car. Sticking it into Autotrader’s car valuation page and valuing it for 50,000 miles gives me £5,500. For 100,000 miles it would have a value of £4,300. This gives me 1.2p per mile that is lost. Again this would depend on what car you drove, and age, the starting mileage and all sorts of other factors. 

Add all of those up together (0.8p + 1p + 1.2p) x 40 miles + £4 + £5 = £10.20 every day.

For 240 working days a gives a total of £2,448. Since I use the journey to go to work, it is interesting to know how much of a salary would cover it. For most people (earning between £12,000 and £45,000) it is around £3,600 before tax. In other words, if I had the same job, closer to home, perhaps where I could walk to, I should be prepared to take up to a £3,600 pay cut.

But what about your time? Dough is the time saving money blog after all. What is the cost of the time it takes to commute to and from work?


Time

Time Cost of Commute UK
Photo by why kei on Unsplash

The average UK worker spends a lot of time commuting – around 400 days of their lives. My journey time is 45 minutes each way. An hour and a half in total. Let’s value my time at the current minimum wage of £7.83 per hour for over 25s.

An hour and a half of time is therefore £11.75. Add that to the £10.20 gives me a whopping £21.95 per day. £110 per week. £5,200 per year. 

That’s a huge commitment. It’s worth considering if you are thinking of moving jobs to a distance further away or thinking of starting paid employment. How far do you have to travel? And is it worth it for the salary you are earning?


If you are interested in working it out for yourself, see here for the spreadsheet I used and click on the green button to download it. The blue cells are the ones to update for your own situation. Let me know in the comments how you get on.


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