Dilemma: Bus or Underground?

When I started actively paying off my debt six months ago, I had to significantly cut down on my day-to-day expenses to free up as much cash as I could. Long gone are my morning lattes, beauty and fashion magazine subscriptions, express manicures during my lunch hour, afternoons at fancy hair salons, dinners at exclusive London restaurants to name a few… all gone.

It was time to learn the art of frugal living. To cut back even more, I moved out of my expensive riverside London flat that cost me 42% of my basic take home pay every month and temporarily moved in with my sister. I am renting on my own again but this time I was looking for something that would not exceed 33% of my basic take home pay… and I succeeded! Oh, and my new flat is just across the road from my old place, so it’s still very much riverside.

I’d say that my living expenses currently eat up about 57% of my take home pay every month (my commission from sales or side income not included) and leave me with about 43% to allocate towards my debt and savings. I would ideally like to reduce my living expenses to 50% of my basic take home income and allocate another 50% towards my debt and savings. As a side note, all my extra income (a rough estimate of £3-4k each year) will be going towards two funds in the New Year: emergency and travel. More on this soon.

Given the title of this post, you probably know where I am going with this. I am still  looking for ways to free up some cash in my existing budget. Seriously, when does one stop? Transportation is the second highest item of expenditure in my budget after housing costs. I am fairly lucky in the sense that my employer pays for my annual travelcard – and in turn I pay it back in 10 months interest free. This little arrangement has saved me £234/year or £19.5/month in 2013. My commute is about 40 minutes door-to-door on a train each way.

Now, I can save even more money next year. By switching to a bus (before you ask – I am not even considering riding a bike to work as the traffic scares the hell out of me). By switching to a bus, not only will I be saving £234 but I will also be making a further saving of £432/year or £36/month. As tempting as this sounds I have to take into consideration the fact that my commute will more or less double in time. Instead of 40 minutes door-to-door, it will take me 1 hour and 10 minutes each way to commute by bus, or an additional 40 minutes every working day! What is more, there is a strong possibility that I will still have to occasionally take a train and assuming it will cost me no more than £10 each month, the monthly saving will only be £26…

So here’s the question – is it worth it?

Yeah, I didn’t think so… I have given this some serious thought, and I have realised that a saving of £26-36 per month is not  worth 13-14 hours in extra commute time! And although I won’t be switching to a bus after all, I have come up with a little goal… namely, to make an extra £36 each month to make up for this “potential loss” in transportation costs.

What would you do? Would you switch to a bus to save a bit of extra cash or would you not go that far?

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  1. Nope, looking for ways to cut costs doesn’t ever stop! Lol. I love the way you sat and though through this particular issue, and I agree with your assessment. Even on the high end of your estimate, at £36, I don’t think that’s worth the amount of time you’d have to add to your commute. I think you’re doing the smart thing by setting yourself a goal of earning that extra money to offset the cost! Great idea!

    Oh, and don’t feel bad about not riding your bike.. I would be terrified to try that where I live because people just do not pay attention driving! If you don’t feel safe, it’s not worth the risk.
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  2. I’m all about saving money and cutting back monthly budget items (who doesn’t love to save money on something you have to pay every month!) but there is also something that I value even more – and that is my own free time. My commute is roughly 30-40 mins and depending on traffic can be up to an hour. When I move out I plan on moving much closer to work and might even experiment with biking to work.

    One of my co-workers had a commute that was around an hour and a half and he moved to bring it down to half an hour and I still told him he was crazy. With no significant other in the picture – I would have moved as close as possible. You have to remember that time spent commuting is not like time at work either, you aren’t being paid.

    I definitely agree with your decision.
    Debt Hater recently posted…Rejected for a New Credit CardMy Profile

    1. Well, if you commute by bus you can still do things… like read a book, read and comment on blogs on your phone, maybe even write a blog post, etc. I just hate commuting in general… even my current commute time of 40 minutes door-to-door is too long 😉

      I’d love to live close to work (you should totally do it if you can!) but it’s impossible as I work in the city of London and it’s insanely expensive. I don’t live too far, if I cycled to work it would roughly take me 50 minutes to get to my office… not that I will ride a bike to central London in a rush hour 😛
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Dilemma: Bus or Underground?My Profile

    1. Yeah… about that… 😉

      My sister moved to Asia with her boyfriend back in November. She lives in Cambodia now. My best friend started a new job in Cambridge in October I think, so he moved to Cambridge. I have two flatmates though, one of them is Russian and he’s pretty cool so I can’t complain!

      I miss both my sister and my best friend so much though 🙁
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Dilemma: Bus or Underground?My Profile

  3. I might try it, then only to realize it wasn’t the right choice 🙂 Just because I do stuff like that. I am actually going to write a post about my transportation budget going up, because of my bad planning. I bike to work 99% of the time, except the weather has been pretty brutal lately and I’ve splurged on Car2Go’s and buses. I don’t like my budget going up, but riding my bike in freezing weather is plain uncomfortable and I’m cranky the rest of the day. Some things are worth it.
    Dear Debt recently posted…Does being broke help your creativity?My Profile

  4. I have taken the bus and the Metro in London and given how large the zones are it just isn’t worth taking the bus on a daily commute. I DO take the bus to work and it is a fairly long commute (45 miles) but I get a free ECO Pass (travel) card through my work. I don’t have a car either so I pay nothing for transportation! I am thinking about buying a solid used car in May….we’ll see.

  5. In general, I agree that in this case your time is worth a lot more than your money. The only wrinkle is that, since you’re on public transportation, that time isn’t necessarily wasted as much as it would be in a car…since you could read or, depending on your comfort with your fellow passengers, nap.

    As a longer term possibility, are there neighborhoods near your office that you might like to live in?
    Done by Forty recently posted…Budget PornMy Profile

    1. I agree! You can actually WORK on a bus. I can easily write a blog post, I see people using their laptops on buses and tubes all the time. Although I think it’s a bit weird (I’d rather use my iPhone instead), I also think it’s kinda cool. You can SAVE money using a bus and MAKE money while travelling by writing a sponsored post, for example! 😛

      Yeah, I’ll keep dreaming! 😉 I know myself too well, I’ll just want to nap! hehe
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Dilemma: Bus or Underground?My Profile

  6. No, not for the extended travel time to/fro work. Time is money and time spent on a bus is not a good investment.

    Looking forward to hearing about your side money ventures. I’ve two jobs and while NOT easy, paying off the debt I’ve incurred makes me happy!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Lyle! I prefer to travel by train because I always manage to get a seat (I had to stand probably twice in 2 years!) AND I hate being stuck in a traffic jam which is not a problem if I travel by train.

      To keep my sanity I am going to stick to my plan and get my annual underground pass. I am happy with this decision 😛
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Dilemma: Bus or Underground?My Profile

    1. Definitely! It’s just too much hassle to get places by bus. Apart from one bus that stops outside my house, I have no idea what other buses I can use and what their routes are. I also don’t think I’ve got a desire to learn that 😉 Although it would be great to save money, I agree that I will actually be losing money (that I could potentially make) by having to spend extra 13-14 hours commuting every month!
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Dilemma: Bus or Underground?My Profile

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