What Does Your Daily Commute Cost You?
How far do you commute each day for the privilege of doing your part to push back the
frontiers of technical ignorance and to boldly go where no engineer - or technician - has gone before
infinitive by Roddenberry,
not me)? Do you know what the cost equates to you each year? This handy-dandy poster by the
folks at Streamline Refinance lays out some gruesome numbers. Those with a weak stomach probably
should pass on viewing this one. Here's a hint at what you will see: See that big $795 in the
thumbnail image? That's the average cost per year for commuting -- per mile! Yessiree, if
you live just 10 miles from work, you're losing nearly $8k per year, depending on you automobile
type, on gas, tires, maintenance, devaluation, and loss of your personal time
(which is valuable, after all). Back in the early 1990s I drove
45 miles each way to Comsat, which took about 65 minutes due to miserable traffic. That's 130 minutes
round-trip, or 2 hours and 10 minutes (about the run time of an average
movie) each day. Figuring two weeks
vacation and 10 holidays, that leave 48 weeks x 5 days/week = 240 days per year of commuting. 240 days x 130 minutes = 31,200 minutes = 520 hours per year. That's a fourth of a man-year
(2080 hours) on the
road. It was a great job, but combined with working 60-70 hours per week
(no paid overtime of course), it really took a toll on me. During that period I was
writing my world-famous RF
Workbench cascade analysis software at home, usually into the wee hours of the morning.
During the Comsat
era, I drove a crappy old Ford Escort (our only car) that suffered carburetor icing regularly when cresting
South Mountain in the winter,
Hagerstown to Germantown. It was lucky to get 25 mpg, even with a little 4-cylinder
engine. So, devaluation was pretty minimal since the car didn't have much value to begin with. Gas cost about $1.00 per gallon.
The fuel cost works out to $864 per year (best case for 21,600 miles). My salary was something like $35k per year as an engineer, with an after-tax net of maybe $30k per
year, so that really hurt the bottom line. In 1992, the IRS was allowing 29 cents per mile deduction for business
vehicles (for which I did not qualify), which
would be $6,264 for those 21,600 miles per year (90 miles round-trip per
day x 240 days), or around $940 at the 15% income tax rate - close to the actual gas
cost. After three years, I changed jobs since I could not afford to live in the much higher
cost region north of Washington D.C. BTW, there were quite a few guys who commuted even
farther than I did.
Keep in mind when calculating your own commuting cost that the motivation for the creation
of the poster is to convince you to sell your current house and buy a new one. That puts money
in the pockets of re-financiers like the Streamline Refinance folks, so numbers are put in the
most most shocking terms - yet credible in the worst case - as possible. In my opinion, the
greatest cost is in lost personal time on the road that could be spent at home with your
family, engaging in a hobby, starting your own business or even getting a little extra sleep. Even a 15-minute commute
consumes 120 hours per year, or the equivalent of three full work weeks per year! That's a
pretty staggering reality. For some people their job is their life, so commute time doesn't
matter. I'm not one of those people.
These items are an archive of past Topical Smorgasbord items that have appeared on the RF Cafe homepage. In keeping with the "cafe"
genre, these tidbits of information are truly a smorgasbord of topics. They all pertain to topics that are related to the general engineering
and science theme of RF Cafe. Note: There is also a huge collection of my 'Factoids' (aka 'Kirt's Cogitations') that might interest you as well.
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Posted on 3/15/2013