How to Give Yourself A Raise: Stop Commuting.

Apr 2, 2014 by

Stop CommutingI heard the bridge was backed up this morning.  Reason #1 to stop commuting.  Seriously.

But, easy for me to say right?  Because I’m not currently commuting.  But I have been there.  I commuted a lot between JCMO and COMO while enrolled at MU and continued work in JCMO. I have been late because of traffic issues on the bridge.  I was thankfully saved by daily commuting when I convinced my husband to move to COMO while I was in school, and forced him to commute every day.

When my younger sister landed a job in JCMO, she like many other young professionals decided she needed to live in COMO because she wanted *stuff* to do.  I tried to talk her out of it, I really did.  And while, she didn’t take my advice, she made her own decision to *stop* commuting after less than a year.  She was wasting so much time traveling between the two locations.  By the time she got home to COMO in the evenings she didn’t have the time do the *stuff* she wanted to that she originally thought she would when she moved.  Now, she lives in a sweet loft in Downtown JCMO, and she will tell you that there is plenty of *stuff* for her to do in JCMO.

[As an aside, this is not meant so much as an assault on Columbia as it is on commuting, generally.  If you live in JCMO, and commute to Columbia for work or are currently commuting anywhere for thirty minutes or more, you should really reconsider.]

Here is why you should stop commuting:

You Will have More Money

You likely work close to fifty weeks a year, five days a week.  JCMO to Columbia is approximately 32 miles.  Each day (250 days a year) you commute approximately 64 miles a day.  The current “state rate” for mileage reimbursement estimates gas and wear & tear on your car at 37 cents a mile.  In one year, that is $5,920 down the drain to Highway 63.

What if at your annual employee review your boss gave you a $5k+ raise?  How excited would you be?   What would you do with the extra $5k?  If you saved it…..

What will you do now knowing that you can give yourself this raise?

I know it sounds like a lot of money, but I’m somewhat of a digital hoarder and yes, I have my budgets from 2008 & 2009.  At the time we were budgeting more than $300 in gas a month just for my husband and his commuting (and we were forcing him to drive my Grand Am).  Now, most months gas for his car (an SUV) is under $75.  Even if you just look at gas costs (and not wear and tear on your car, etc.), its a huge savings.

“But…But…But….if I live in JCMO,  I can’t go to Booches, Trops, Sophia’s or Quinton’s at a moments notice!”  Sure you can.  It will take you 30 minutes to get there on the night you decide you  have to visit Restaurant or Bar X in Columbia.  Most people in StL or KC drive a minimum of 30 minutes to get to their bar or restaurant of choice and don’t think twice about it.

I think most people overestimate their need to eat at certain restaurants or go to certain bars.  How many nights are you REALLY going out to eat or out to a bar?  My guess would be once or twice (especially if you are blowing $5k commuting, you probably don’t have the time or money to go more frequently).

Say you decide to go once week (50 weeks a year).  That’s only an investment of a little over $1k.  A $4k savings than if you choose to commute.

Your Money Will Go Farther

Not only is commuting itself expensive, but living in COMO when compared to JCMO is expensive.

It was recently reported that JCMO is one of the eight least expensive places to live in the nation.  From the article:

The BLS data show that average prices paid by consumers for the mix of goods and services consumed in the area are about 19 percent below the national average. Sperling’s data show that the average cost of living in Jefferson is 96 percent the national average. Median home cost is 83 percent the national average, while property taxes are below average.

The cost of living is better in JCMO than COMO.  The data shows that you could take more than a 7.5% pay cut and maintain your current standard of living.  Other data shows that a $47.5k salary living in JCMO is equivalent to a $50k salary in COMO.  Regardless of the exact numbers, your money will go farther in JCMO.

You Will Have More Time

The one thing most people wish is that they had more time.  Commuting an hour a day costs you your most precious resource: time.  You could always get a $5k raise to cover the cost of commuting, but you can’t get back an hour a day…you just can’t.

Commuting five days a week, fifty weeks a year equates to a loss of 250 hours a year.  That is almost ten and a half days (in a year) sitting in a car!  Yuck.

Seriously what would you do with an extra 5 hours a week?  (Sleep is number one on my list! Seriously how much better do you feel with just 30 minutes more sleep?!?)  But there are others — more time to get in a work out? — more time to go beyond just pinning and actually doing some of those projects?  — more time to spend with your kids or loved ones?

Time is precious, don’t waste it in a car.

You Will Be More Safe

In case there was any question, this winter has settled the debate once and for all: the weather in Missouri  can be terrible.  The fact remains most people don’t get “snow days” from work.  Cutting down on your commute will increase your own personal safety (particularly cutting down on your drive time in areas where snow removal is notoriously bad, ahem COMO).

You Will Be Happier

They say money can’t buy happiness.  What can buy you more happiness?  Less time in the car!  Studies show people with long commutes are less happy.  A study into commuting and personal wellbeing has found that each minute added to a commute affects anxiety, happiness and general wellbeing.

How was your day today?  Good? Mediocre?  What if you were just a little more happy today…and every day?  What would you do with more happiness?

Folks:  It’s time to STOP commuting.

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  1. Lindsey Pantaleo

    Great article! We decided to stop commuting to JC two years ago and we are so happy we did! We love this little city which we would have never got to know if Nick was still driving 3 hours a day back and forth.

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