I don’t have a long commute to work (certainly nothing like what I had in New York or Connecticut). It’s about 14 miles each way, mostly highway. So that’s 28 miles a day, or a little more than a gallon of gas. (You Prius owners stop sniggering.)
So I spend about four bucks a day just on gas getting to and from work. If I wanted to take into account the wear and tear on the car, I could use the IRS standard mileage rate of $0.505 per mile. That brings it up to $14.14 per day.
Let’s split the difference and call it about $9.00 a day.
I come into the office four days a week right now, give or take — that’s about 16 days a month.
So I spend about $144.00 per month just driving to work.
That’s pocket change for some of you, I know. But I can’t help but think what a difference it would make to my bottom line to come in, say, three days a week. (Answer: $36.00 — enough to add both HBO and Showtime to my DirecTV service and still have money left over for popcorn.)
These kinds of numbers are affecting people all over. Public transit usage is up as driving goes down. Teleconferences are replacing in-person meetings. More companies are letting workers telecommute (a boon, I would expect, for Staples, Office Max, and broadband Internet companies.)
On the real estate side, the Internet and the MLS become even more important. The more you can whittle down a list of potential properties in the office, the less driving you have to do. (Obviously and necessary plug: VAR’s IdealRoute.com lets you plot the most efficient way to show a bunch of homes.)
Technology is changing these things even on a personal level. With a $40 pair of webcams and free software from Oovoo or Skype, you can do high-quality video calls with family members across town or country. I speak from weekly experience.
Another interesting take on this is what the good folks at NAR are doing. They’ve created a free virtual trade show, the CommercialSource Online Convention, on June 17 and 18.
[Y]ou will have the opportunity to experience the convention on your own schedule. Just be sure to save some time during the convention dates to enjoy and benefit from this new virtual experience!
Each of the speaker presentations will be available to you at any time 24 hours a day on their scheduled day. If you miss a scheduled LIVE Session, they will be archived for access during the remaining convention days.
Granted, it isn’t quite the same as being able to press the flesh, see old friends, and stay in a nice, tax-deductible hotel, but there’s likely a lot of good info to be had. And it costs a lot less to get there.
(For more on the ripple effects of high gas prices, check out Newsweek’s cover story, “The Coming Energy Wars.”)