Previously on The Billfold
Kay Phillips has been dreading this moment for a very long time.
The 59-year-old from Elon, North Carolina, has often wondered how much her commute cost her over the years. She decided to sit down and tabulate it once and for all for Reuters.
Specifically, the four years when Phillips was driving 2.5 hours each way to her job and back, every single workday. From little Granite Falls, up in the mountains of North Carolina’s Caldwell County, to Chapel Hill for her job with the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Coalition of North Carolina.
The total tab, she figures: $43,000. And that is just in gasoline – not oil changes or repairs, not the value of her time.
Reuters has published a very mean article about commuting and how it wastes all our money and make us miserable and sick. Normally I work from home or from my neighborhood but today I just got back from shuffling myself all over town to go a million doctor’s appointments and I feel like my soul has been drained out of my body (could be unrelated, though).
Anyway, turns out the average commute time for Americans has held steady at 25.5 minutes, and 10.8 million Americans travel over an hour each way to get to their job. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, longer commutes correlate with higher levels of obesity, cholesterol, pain, fatigue and anxiety. Feel u, Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
Also, Chris Taylor at Reuters will not rest until he has completely ruined Kay’s day:
After all, put $43,000 into an IRA or 401(k), compound it at even a modest rate of return, and you have a very nice nest egg indeed.
“Oh my goodness, don’t go there,” she says. “I don’t even want to think about that.”