4 Reasons Why Carpooling is a Great (and Underused) Financial Tool

4 Reasons why Carpooling is a Great Financial Tool4 Reasons why Carpooling is a Great Financial Tool

 

Carpooling.  Very popular in Europe, much like crappy burgers and fast trains.  In the US? Not so much, which is surprising given that Americans drive more than anyone else in the world.  Carpooling constitutes only 10% of all US commutes.  Driving is so ingrained in American culture that people will go into a mall and drive to a parking lot for one store, and then drive to another parking lot just a few steps away, for another store.  And they will do this without any consideration because it’s part of their DNA.  Just as it is for certain Europeans to not use deodorant and then pack into overcrowded buses on the way to work.  You know who you are.

Anyway, carpooling is very big in Europe.  There is a company called BlaBlaCar (great name) which works very much like Uber.  If you want to go from Berlin to Munich, but don’t want to pay the train ticket or the schedule doesn’t make sense, you go on BlaBlaCar, select your route, and you’ll see various people who will be driving the same route.  You pick the driver, compensate the driver (pretty much just split the fuel costs), and then go where the driver will offer to stop.  Here are 4 reasons why you should consider carpooling to either work or even on vacation.

Rental car in Toronto, Canada
Ruby near our spiffy rental car in Toronto.

1.) Cost

This is, of course, the big reason why carpooling is such a good idea.  Let’s drill down into the details to see how much money you’d save by carpooling.

Imagine the following scenario:

Dave commutes 50 miles to work every day (25 mi each way).  This comes out to 1,000 miles.  Let’s say he fills out his gas tank once a week, which costs him $25.  Over a month, that works out to $100 in gas.  Over a year, that’s $1,200 in gas.

Now let’s say that Mike offers to ride with Dave every day and in exchange will split the fuel.  That $1,200 in gas now went down to $600.  Extrapolate that over 10 years, and that’s $6,000.  No small change.

2.) Convenience

To offer a real world example: my uncle lives in Slovakia and works in the capital, Bratislava, but drives two hours northeast to see his family every weekend.  Every Friday night, he tells people in BlaBlaCar that he’s going to his hometown, and quite often one or two people will join him and pay for most of his fuel.  For the passenger, a car ride is more convenient than a crowded bus or train, and cheaper.  For the driver, it pays for most of his fuel costs.  Win-Win.

Old cars in Havana, Cuba
Old cars in Havana, Cuba

3.) Safety

This might seem a strange one, given that you have a person in the car who might be a talker and you might fear being distracted, but in actuality, an additional set of eyes and ears in a vehicle is a good thing, provided it’s not a screaming toddler called Larry.

Especially on night-time routes, the driver will have someone to keep him company, which reduces the chances of falling asleep at the wheel.  But beyond that, even during morning commutes, when you have another person in the car, you magically become a better driver.  You pay attention more, get distracted less, and are more apt to follow rules and less likely to cut someone off and flick them off.




4.) Environment

Yeah, you might shake your head at this one and say that taking one car off the road won’t matter, but it will matter once you scale carpooling up.  But once a few more thousand cars start coming off the road, it makes an impact.  Less pollution, less congestion, less stress on the roads.

Classic car
Imagine carpooling in this

Summary

In short, carpooling is a fantastic option for daily commuters, as well as for longer-distance trips.  You not only save money by saving on fuel, you help reduce stress on the roads, be a better, safer driver, and make it more convenient for other people to complete their routes.


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Comments

  1. Dave @ Married with Money

    To add on to the cost one: If you’re lucky you may be able to get by without a second car as a married couple. For example if you work at the same place as a neighbor, and your spouse works elsewhere, the spouse could take the car and you drive with your neighbor. In addition to the saved gas, you now no longer have car payments, wear & tear, or insurance costs on a second vehicle.

    Not going to work for everyone but it’s a sweet deal when it works out that way 🙂 I’m a big fan of carpooling and public transportation!

    1. Ruby Escalona

      We had this arrangement before – we survived on 1 car for the past 3 1/2 years. However, things change so Peter has to borrow his brother’s car to get to work. He had to move to another city 3 hours away from our place.
      I do get by hitchhiking with our neighbor sometimes (who moved to another community across the street – we used to live in the same complex)

  2. Dave

    Great post. My wife has been in a carpool for the past few years. It saves us so much money in gas and repairs. Plus, she likes the conversations that she can have with her co-workers on the drive.

    1. Ruby Escalona

      My husband and I used to share only one car back when we worked in the same office. It was a great way to save gas money + mileage on our car. Now that he moved to a different city and company, we had to resort back to two cars, so there’s no way we can do it. 🙂 It also enables us to consolidate trips/errands in one.

  3. Xyz from Our Financial Path

    We really like all the cool tech solutions to reduce traffic and save the environment with carpooling like Uber pool, Chariot, or Waze Carpool that minimizes single-user cars on the roads. It is so easy to save money now. Hopefully, the convenience will make it more and more popular.

    1. Ruby Escalona

      We love Uber and Lyft. They’re such life savers if we need to go on longer trips and don’t want to park our car in the airport. We usually do it if our flight leaves at like 6am and none of our friends can pick us up from the airport or drop us off.

      Also helps if you’re going to a big event and can’t be bothered to pay the parking fees!

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