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Cut commuting costs

Traveling to work and back can be expensive. Here's how to avoid over paying.

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By Gerri Willis, CNN

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NEW YORK ( -- Just getting to work is getting more expensive. But there are ways to cut down on commuting costs. Here are some top tips on how to save while driving to work.

1. Calculate Alternatives

Do you know just how much money you're using by commuting back and forth to work?

The typical commuter pays over $200 per month just to get back and forth to work. That's over $2,400 per year, or put differently, the same as a $3,500 raise in your salary.

So, think about how much you would save by taking mass transit instead.

Check out this calculator from that let's you see what the cost benefit could be if you hopped on the train or the bus.

2. Improve your mileage

Getting the most out of your gas tank is a priority.

Here's how to do it:

First, simply maintain your car. One of the most important things you can do it to make sure your tires are inflated properly.

According to tests done by, driving with tires underinflated by 25% caused a loss of fuel economy on an average of 3.75%.

If you have a roof rack that you're not using, take it down. It can cause a fuel loss of 1%.

And if you have a lot of junk in the trunk, make sure you get rid of it. That heavy load can really add to your gas bill.

If both spouses drive to work in separate cars, use the more fuel-efficient one for the longest commute.

3. Look to your employer

The federal and most state governments offer big tax breaks for commuters.

If your employer offers a flexible spending plan for transportation, take advantage of it. This program lets you put pretax money away for your transit passes or parking expenses.

And the money you contribute to this fund lowers your taxable income, so you'll be shielding the cash from Uncle Sam.

Make sure you ask your employer if this perk is offered.

4. Find a buddy

Driving to work may be a drag, but you can drastically cut down on your mileage by sharing the ride with a colleague or a buddy.

Sign up for the free service to find fellow travelers who are looking to connect and share rides.

You can also check out or your state's department of transportation for more information.

5. Call your insurance company

If you do cut your commute, let your auto insurer know.

You'll generally get a low-mileage discount if you drive fewer than 40 miles per day.

You may also be able to cut down on your mileage by pitching the idea of telecommuting one or two days a week to your boss. We'll have more on that next week. To top of page

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