In the past, the daily commute was little more than a drain on our time. But with an increase in fuel prices and rising train fares, it's starting to become a big drain on our finances. Whilst travelling to work is unavoidable, there are a few steps you can take to cut back on the cost, leaving more money in your pocket...
Train fares are set to rise by another 2.8% this year, but you can still save money on the rails if you look in the right places. Booking your tickets well in advance is a good place to start, whilst doing your best to avoid peak times can save hundreds of pounds on long distance travel.
Londoners, on the other hand, can save a bundle by using their Oyster Card (more than 50% on single journeys!), whereas season tickets for other national rail routes are available if you don't mind paying a large sum up front. Providing you travel daily, season tickets can shave a sizeable percentage off your annual travel costs. Annual fare increases usually kick in during the first half of January, so try to renew in late December to guarantee you a lower rate for another 12 months. If you're under 25 or over 60, you can save even more with a Railcard, giving you a third off your tickets.
If you travel in by car, it might be worth thinking about investing in fuel-efficient technology. There's no need to buy a new model to make the most of the latest advances - using low viscosity engine oils and fitting tyres with low rolling resistance are both simple, low cost methods to help reduce your petrol use.
You can take this one step further by converting your car's petrol engine to LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). This may cost upwards of £1,500 for the best systems, but you'll pay half the price at the pump, and recoup your investment over two or three years. If you're committed to petrol, don't forget to shop around - most supermarkets offer loyalty schemes in the form of fuel-based incentives, with the likes of Tesco and Morrisons sometimes offering money off at the pump when you spend a certain amount in store. Don't forget to use your loyalty cards too - these open up even more discounts and vouchers.
While train fares have been rising astronomically over the last few years, bus travel has remained one of the cheapest ways to commute. You can save a fortune on inter-city travel when you book in advance, with providers such as Megabus offering huge discounts when you travel on a specific time and date. Using these services means that, for example, you can travel between Manchester and Birmingham at peak times for just £8, compared to more than £50 by train.
If you have any tips for cutting down on your travel costs, let us know by getting in touch on Twitter or Facebook. You can track the cost of travel and other expenses for free by using our Money Dashboard software, giving you a true view of your finances.