By Caroline M.L. Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs
Unless you're lucky -- or smart -- enough to live down the street from your employer's offices, commuting is probably part of your workday. And if that's the case, the sharp spike in fuel prices is probably having an impact on your budget (and mood). According to a survey by Robert Half International, four out of 10 workers surveyed admitted that high gas prices have affected their commute habits.
What can you do to ease the bite commuting is taking out of your budget? Read on for simple suggestions.
More than a fifth of respondents to Robert Half's survey said that higher gas prices have prompted them to take public transportation more frequently.
Worried about surrendering a bit of freedom and privacy by stepping out of your car and onto a bus or train? You'll get used to it -- as well as the savings you'll enjoy each day. According to Newsday, ridership on the Long Island Rail Road, the nation's busiest commuter railroad, increased by a staggering up 10.4 percent in April 2008 over the same month in 2007, and "the number of drivers using bridges and tunnels in the New York metropolitan area is down."
Use the time you spend not driving to catch up on your reading or sneak in a bit of extra work. Or take a catnap if you can to help you feel refreshed when you get to or home from the office.
Everybody in the Pool
Carpooling, or ridesharing, seemed to have its heyday in the 1970s when high gas prices and a failing economy plagued the US. Its popularity waned with recovery, but the practice is staging a comeback. Almost half of survey participants told Robert Half that they were increasing carpooling or ridesharing.
Consider the practice for yourself. It may be hard to commit to carpooling every day, but doing so a few times a week could considerably cut your commuting costs, depending on how far you live from work. If you can't easily find a coworker to share rides with, visit eRideShare, the leading carpool and ridesharing Web site. You may be able to find a ride-sharing buddy within a few blocks of your office.
Want to burn calories, not gas? Get in shape while you save at the pump by biking to work. An impressive 18 percent of respondents reported that they were now walking or biking to work because of sticker shock over fuel prices.
According to the Census Bureau, 800,000 people used a bike as their primary means of transportation to work in 2008, up 61 percent from 2000. In fact, the San Francisco Coalition's Bike to Work Day in 2008 saw a 31 percent increase in participants over the previous year, with twice as many bicycles as cars on the city's popular thoroughfare, Market Street.
Dial It In
Many but not all US companies have telecommuting policies in place. Some folks who can telecommute choose not to. It may be because people are afraid that a lack of face time will negatively impact their climb up the corporate ladder. But you don't have to telecommute every day to save money and help the environment.
Higher commuting costs are influencing the people Robert Half polled, with 33 percent revealing that they were telecommuting more frequently. Work from home once in a while to save at the pump -- and focus on productivity rather than face time.
If none of these options are in place for you at your company, speak with your boss about helping to ease costs.
Says Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, "Employers may be missing an opportunity to improve morale and reduce turnover by helping their staff cope with the burden of rising gas prices. Often, it can be as simple as communicating to employees what programs are already in place."