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Your commute is bad for your wallet and health

The daily back and forth to work is costing you more than you realize.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 2, 2014 1:23PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyCommuting is a necessary evil for workers across the country. But it's a costly practice, both for your pocketbook and your health.

It's estimated that 10.8 million Americans commute more than an hour each way to work, according to Reuters. About 600,000 workers have 50-mile or more "megacommutes" that take a minimum of 90 minutes.

Los Angeles, Calif., traffic on Interstate 405 © VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/Digital Vision/Getty ImagesKay Phillips of Elon, N.C., was one of those megacommuters, Reuters said. Phillips traveled 2.5 hours each way to her job, five days a week. Reuters wrote:

The total tab, she figures: $43,000. And that is just in gasoline -- not oil changes or repairs, not the value of her time.
"I always thought it would make me sick to find out," she says. "And it did."

The average worker commutes about 25.5 minutes each way, which hasn't changed since 2000. But, unfortunately, megacommutes are the harsh reality for many Americans.

Commuting takes its toll on more than your wallet.  It has a significant impact on the stress level and well-being of the commuter. Reuters said:

In fact the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which surveyed Americans about daily commutes and their effects, discovered a virtual horror show. They found the longer the commute, the higher the levels of one's obesity, cholesterol, pain, fatigue and anxiety.

According to Time, a report from the U.K’s Office of National Statistics determined that commuters actually experience lower happiness and life satisfaction than non-commuters. Time said:

Riding a bus for 30 minutes or longer was associated with the lowest levels of life satisfaction and happiness, but even if you're lucky enough to bike to work and enjoy the beautiful outdoors, your satisfaction takes a nosedive commensurate to how long you spend doing it.

Click here to see the average commute times across the U.S.

In my small town, the average commute time is less than 14 minutes. When I worked outside the home, it would take me eight minutes to get to work. My husband works less than five minutes from our house. We're lucky. My brother lives just outside Seattle. He telecommutes now, but before he had that option, he was forced to drive 30 to 60 minutes one way, depending on traffic. Ugh.

Do you commute to work? What's your commute drive/ride time?

More from Money Talks News

Jun 2, 2014 3:45PM

I've got a commute that's a bit over 25 miles and ranges anywhere from 35-80 minutes depending  on when I leave and what traffic looks like. There have been a few cases that have bumped that commute time to upwards of two hours, but those are rare enough that I don't really take them into consideration.


That much driving twice a day and 5 days a week is certainly irritating. It means a nice 40 hr work week is actually more like 47-53 hours of my time.  Fortunately my car was cheap, has been reliable, and always gets 38-40 mpg so that's not too big of an expense.  


We could move closer to my work but my wife's job has her working super long hours(some shifts well over 24 hours and without sleep) and often commuting at odd hours so I consider it important for her to have as short of a commute as possible. I could work closer to home as well, but it would mean changing professions and probably taking a paycut of 30-60%.  Fortunately I only plan to continue this line of work another year before her work will have us moving anyway.

In the meantime, audiobooks make the commute much more enjoyable. I've found they don't distract me from driving anymore than music or my own thoughts do and I'm able to get through all these books that I otherwise wouldn't find time for.

Jun 2, 2014 3:00PM

i suck up a commute of an hour each way.  however, i take public transportation.  i could buy a car and deal with the depreciation in addition to the other expenses, and that would probably reduce my commute time to 35-40 minutes.  i could also consider moving closer to work, but my work is in the suburbs, and i am very much an urbanite.  so i make the conscious decision to live downtown.  i like being able to walk anywhere i need in a maximum of 45 minutes (or take the metro if i want), and i like being able to go out and get hammered with my friends any night of the week and not worry about driving home.


of course, i have the option of moving to a job closer to my apartment, but i think i am more likely to move cities than to take a new job in my current city.  while i'm young i want to explore.

Jun 3, 2014 3:52PM
The only monster here is the trolling monster that has enslaved Maggie! I call him Deemed, and it's time to snatch Maggie from his neon claws!

Jun 2, 2014 2:37PM
i commute 30 miles each way roughly 90 mins each way and that includes a daycare dropoff & pickup. oh and i cross a bridge (bridge toll !)

Moving closer to work is NOT an option - the areas i could afford have crappy schools and working on the other side of the bridge ups ALL of my expense to 2-3x what they currently are.

Jun 2, 2014 4:39PM
42 miles, 45 mins. Over a mountain range. It can be hellish in winter.
Jun 3, 2014 11:19AM

4 days, 3 nights. 280 of miles of open desert and no water. Only a trusty camel to get me to the other side.

Nah, just about 5 munities away.

Jul 23, 2014 12:07PM
Ms Steinmetz, DUH!  Thank you so much for reminding us about something that 99 percent of all workers already know!  So typical of today's media ... GEEZ!

Why don't you folks at Money Talks News give us something that we can use, like REAL news about what we're supposed to do about it?
Jul 24, 2014 8:51AM
This article states that Kay Phillips of Elon, N.C has a total tab of $43,000.00 for gasoline alone.  First off - I'm assuming that means annually.  If Kay takes no vacation and commutes 52 weeks a year, this works out to $165.00 per day.  I drive 45 minutes each way to work in a truck that does not get great mileage and it costs me about $10.00 per day.  How can Kay spend about 3-1/2 times longer commuting than me (by time), but her costs are 16-1/2 times more than mine.  Even if there are drastic differences in our mileage, gas prices and driving conditions, I believe it would be unlikely to have this difference.  Does she stop and fill up a couple of times on her way to work, or does she drive a hummer with a 50 gallon tank?  I'd like to see the author explain this number a little better because it does not make sense to me.
Jul 23, 2014 12:27PM
260 work days in a year and this gal claims fuel alone costs her $43k? That's $165/workday. What's she driving, a Hummer on premium fuel? I drive 100 miles round-trip five days a week with a car that averages 25 mpg and filling up every 3.5 days my annual fuel cost is less $4,500 on mid-grade. The only reason I commute this distance is I love where I grew up and now reside.
Jul 23, 2014 11:48AM
My commute is 67 miles each way  5 days a week for the last 7 years the horrendous thing about my commute is that its the same and only way to Vegas from LA up the 15 freeway. On a good day it only takes me an hour and fifteen to get home on a bad day its been up to three hours. I cant afford to move closer to work, so I too suck up this commute to have a cheaper, bigger, newer home and better somewhat better schools for the kids. 
Jun 3, 2014 3:48PM
On rainy days I drive. But on sunny days I'm now trying a commute using an electric bike. It's a great, very hilly 20 mile ride through suburbs and farm land. The journey is the destination.
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