How to Be Poor: Game Changer #1 – Transportation to work

As someone who is always scrutinizing my household’s regular expenses, I’ve been having a hard time figuring out how to cut down on my commute to work expenses.

Let me start by saying that I HATE my commute to work. It’s about 25 minutes long and it accounts for the majority of my weekly driving. Which means it accounts for the majority of the wear and tear on my car. Obviously, I’ve been brainstorming how to cut costs for my commute to work.

But since I absolutely loathe driving with other people in the car, carpooling is out of the picture. Normally I could just make myself get over this peeve, but The Beard car pools to work and I’ve not been too impressed with his commuter savings.

I could always ride a bike, but it would extend my transportation time to over an hour and I’d arrive at work all sweaty.

Next, there’s the bus…

Kansas City is not exactly known for their public transportation system. In fact, it’s terrible for a city this size. When I worked as a Case Manager at a local women’s shelter, a top goal for most women and their families was to get off the KC public transport system and get a car of their own. Its unreliability made it a problem for job interviews and picking kids up from daycare.

But in spite of how terrible it is, it’s cheap transportation that will get you from point A to point B. So I’ve been struggling for the last 6 months or so about whether to keep paying the fuel and maintenance costs on my vehicle to get to work plus the $65 parking garage fee VS. waking up a little earlier, being a bit less comfortable and more dependent on strangers, and getting to work in 45 minutes rather than 25 minutes.

I decided in April that it was worth it to pay the parking fee and the gas money to get to work rather than be dependent on a flawed system that I’d have to pay $20 per month for anyway.

Herein lies the game changer:


My work is now offering FREE transportation to get to work; FREE bus fare for employees. This changes the equation dramatically. Now I have to figure out if its worth it to pay $65 + gas costs/maintenance costs VS waking up slightly earlier, walking a block, and riding in a bus full of strangers for 45 minutes FOR FREE.

It’s so obvious, it’s almost difficult. Just by riding the bus, I could save at least $90/month. That’s almost $1100 per year. That’s a trip to Boston to see my sister! It’s a starter payment investment on a nice Vanguard index fund! It’s airfare to England! It’s 4 pairs of Frye boots!

I just can’t justify driving anymore. That’s right. Beginning July 1st, I begin a new challenge: Bus bound to work for 15 days. We’ll see how long I last with it.

I am “bus people” now.