The variables for me were:
- 4 mile round trip commute
- vehicle that gets 36 miles/gallon
The variable for my coworker were:
- 100 mile round trip commute
- vehicle that gets 16 miles/gallon
Both of these are actual distances and mileage and I figured on current gas prices of $3.50/gallon for an average of 220 working days per year. Doing the math, my gas bill commuting back and forth to work for the year is $78.00 and theirs is $4812.50 meaning I save $4734.50 per year because of the choices I made. That is quite a bit of wampum that my coworker could use had they made a similar choice as me. For example, it would almost completely fund a Roth IRA for their retirement, something that they currently admit that they don't do because they can't afford to.
Granted not everyone wants to live in town, including me and not all areas offer the same appeal so giving up the 50 mile commute for one that is 2 miles is not always an option. But lets say that if my coworkers were to trade in their Chevy Avalanche for a Honda Civic to commute. They would cut their gas bill down to just $2138.89 per year or a savings of $2673.61 over what they are paying now. That is more than enough to cover the cost of registration and insurance for the vehicle and if bought used, would pay it off in short order. Or if you traded vehicles, not only would your insurance and registration costs go down as well as the depreciation costs since you would be trading into a cheaper vehicle, but almost $2700 a year would pay for a lot of delivery charges for those times when a car just isn't big enough.
To me, this all seems obvious but so many people I mention this too seem completely baffled. Especially when my coworker and I have both been in this situation for almost eight years now. Granted the gas prices haven't always been this high but had they been, I would have pocketed an extra $38,000 due to my choices. More than likely I have pocketed $25,000 over that eight years over my coworker. That my friends is a whole lot of wampum.