You may have read the Costs of Commuting. The time and money lost commuting was staggering. But why do people opt for trading their precious lifetime and money for a less than rewarding paycheck? It’s simply the expected salary necessary to make a living. There is no choice, is there?
But the truth of the matter is that with every stressful commute we are shortening the time we have on this planet. According to numerous psychological and medical studies commuting turns you into a more aggressive individual, increases blood pressure, and makes you fatter.
The beauty risks
Let’s start with becoming bigger around the waistline. You know the feeling when you come home from a long day at work and a one hour journey stuck in traffic slowly inching forward. The fatiguing tube ride eagerly awaiting to get of to breathe a tiny bit of freedom. In your head you are keen to go for a run or play a round of basketball or soccer, maybe a match of tennis. But when you get to your house and sit down, rising from your comfortable couch suddenly feels too much and thus you stay put.
A study in 2012 found that the longer the commute, the less likely a person is to indulge in a sports activity. The less sport we do, the lower our energy levels and our satisfaction with the way we look. The greater the waistline, the less attractive we are for the opposite sex and the more we feel the pressure to counter those growing pounds. But the long commute is just simply to exhausting to go running or the gym. A vicious circle.
Yet still many own an expensive gym membership. At least being surrounded by others will somehow help to tap into the last bits of energy, or won’t it? Reality is that after a heavy day how often do you find the motivation to get off the couch?
The health risks
But what about the health risks? Not only does our beauty suffer, studies have repeatedly found that happiness and life satisfaction levels drop significantly to an extent that people are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety*. With longer commutes also come fewer social interactions and suffering friendships. If you think about it, the more time you spend getting to and from work, the less time you have to spend with friends and family. And what’s more important than a good social network?
Aside all the mental aspects, the blood pressure rises to levels critical enough to, over a prolonged period of time, cause strokes and heart attacks. How many do have to commute every single day for years with no relief in sight?
And all that for a paycheck whose fruits you might only get to enjoy for a short while, if at all, when considering all these mental and physical health aspects.
Making commuting a bit more fun
If you have no choice but to commute, it is better to use your favorite means of transport. Whether you drive your own car instead of public transport, your bike or simply walk, using the time to do something you truly enjoy will reduce the levels of stress. Your mornings and evenings will become that much more enjoyable. For some using their own cars, having their own space, and being more flexible reduces anxiety levels and increases happiness, being stuck in traffic for hours certainly does not help your wellbeing. It is at best a hassle, at worst a major stress factor.
If you have the choice, a UK study* suggests that you are better off not spending more than 15 minutes getting to and from work. But what if this is no real alternative? How easy is it really to pack your bags, move houses, only to be closer to your workplace? For many this is certainly not an option; particularly in times when we regularly change our workplace
Financial Freedom and no more commuting
So how about this: Rather than moving houses every few years in order to safeguard your health and beauty, you simply call it quits. Bear with me. I know the term financial freedom is thrown around a lot, go onto youtube and you will hundreds or even thousands of videos on the subject. It certainly is not that easy and cannot be done overnight, but wouldn't it help a bit to know that you are less dependent on your paycheck, the more your money does the work for you. Imagine getting on the train in the morning, standing upright with everyone else around miserable, hating their jobs and bosses. What if you knew that while you are heading to work with everyone else, your assets are working for you, helping you to have to do fewer of these journeys? Maybe, if you play it right, will never again have to endure that terrible commute? That would certainly reduce the level of stress, improve your health, and prolong your life.
How about instead of spending hours on a train or in a traffic jam, you enjoy the fruits of financial freedom? All that lost lifetime that you will never again get back just to get that ever so important paycheck. Why not just become financially more independent allowing you to choose whether or not you want to commute for hours. Who wouldn't prefer to spend their precious lifetime with family, friends, endulging in their hobbies?
No one would ever suggest to quit a job that pays the bills, but with today’s technology and work arrangements, it is easier than ever to work from home or work less. But in order to have the guts and the financial cushion to reduce or even go an alternative route that includes no more, or much less commuting, it is undeniably crucial to get your finances to a place where the returns of your investments will compensate for a smaller paycheck.
If your savings and investment returns are high enough and your spending isn't outrageous, you might enjoy a life of financial freedom and no more commuting even much earlier.
Good luck on your journey to a life free of commuting.