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The Benefits of Carpooling and How to Incorporate It Into Your Life

By David Bakke

should I carpoolWhen I think of carpooling, the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s not feasible or convenient, so why bother looking into it? The way my work schedule is, there aren’t too many people that drive into the city when I do and go home when I do. Moreover, while some people live fairly close to me, it’s still a bit of a trek. I think we all know that carpooling can free up our budget a little, but is it really worth it?

As I see our environment being slowly choked by pollution and I continue to live in a city with some of the worst traffic in the country (Atlanta, GA), I have recently begun to revisit my thoughts on carpooling.

Some Hard Facts

Believe it or not, a 20-mile round trip costs approximately $3500 annually. And this number doesn’t even include the cost of insurance, registration, and some other incidental expenses. If two people shared that ride, the cost drops to $1750, and if three people shared it, the cost goes down to $1166.

If you started by carpooling only one time each week, you would still save enough energy to power your laptop 117 times. The fewer cars on the road, the less pollution. The less cars on the road, the less traffic as well. On the energy front, one round trip commute to work each day spits out about 8000 pounds of carbon dioxide. I won’t get into what a pound of carbon dioxide looks like, except that’s it’s a lot of pollution.

“If Only There Were More Hours In The Day”

Originally, I thought that my morning and evening drive time were my times to clear my head and either get ready for, or forget about, my day at work. Well, in actuality, I could probably get by without this time. And, if I had this “extra” twenty minutes per trip each day because someone else was driving, I might be able to put this time to better use. I could use it to make some phone calls, maybe catch up on emails, or better yet, I could even sleep!

Of course, I doubt I would jump in head first right off the bat. I think that might be setting oneself up for failure. Rather, I think I would start off slow. I’d pick one day a week where my schedule coincides with another co-worker who lives nearby, and discuss the idea to see if there is any interest. If you find someone that fits the bill, map out a game plan and how the costs will be split, and try it out.

Get Creative

After that, I would look to expand my carpooling regimen. Maybe I could go to two days per week with this same person, maybe I could find another co-worker who would be willing to do it one time per week. Maybe, thinking outside of the box now, I could find someone to car pool with in the morning and someone else in the evening. The logistics could be little complicated, but I bet you it is doable.

Note: Make sure you get along with the people you carpool with or else you’ll go crazy, especially if it’s a long ride!

Look Outside Your Place of Work

Finally, if I got serious about it, I would even look for carpooling partners outside my place of work. There are some websites for every major city regarding carpooling options, like eRideShare. I know there are quite a few websites for Atlanta alone. On some local websites that I use, you can input your work schedule info and the site will automatically try to find a match in your area. Heck, I might even end up making a new friend out of the whole thing!

It Could Become Infectious

I’d also imagine that if you were to instigate carpooling in some fashion at your place of employment, you might find more people who desire to get involved. I think it’s one of those things where a leader of some sort is just needed to kickstart the whole thing, and after that, you might find quite a few people jumping on board.

Has anybody out there had any successes with carpooling? We’d love to hear your comments below.

(photo credit: hjem)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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