My frequent readers know that I love to look for effective ways of monetizing ownership of big ticket items. For example, I have written articles about monetizing the home office, making money when you own a car, and even how to monetize your yard and garden. Yet, there is still the issue of the morning commute. In other words: Can you monetize your commute?
This is a big ticket item for many, and can require the use of a car (meaning costly car ownership and upkeep, fuel, insurance, tolls and more), or the use of alternative transportation options. This typically means:
- Using public transportation (which means monthly or annual passes and parking fees)
- Paying to join a carpool
- Using driving services such as Uber, Lyft or expensive cabs (even if shared)
Clearly, no matter how you get to and from work it can pay to consider the ways you might monetize your commute. There are the obvious answers to the question. For instance, you can monetize your commute by putting up your car and services as a driver in an organized car pool. Everyone pays a fixed amount that pays for gas, tolls and wear and tear. It is a classic way to monetize your commute and car ownership, but it is not the only option.
Before talking to others in the office or finding ways to list a carpool opportunity at the local park and ride lot, consider these other alternatives.
Apps to Monetize Your Commute
If you think a carpool is the right way to monetize your commute, you don’t have to go old school with it. Instead, you can use apps to help let people in your general area know you are making a spot in the ride available. The WAZE app is a “community-based traffic and navigation app, is offering commuters a way to monetize the drive to work and back home again” according to its creators.
It relies on users to update traffic patterns and issues in real time, allowing you to navigate the fastest and least congested route to and from the office. It also has alerts for police locations, accidents and even lousy road conditions. It features a friend location feature to allow you to find and pickup those in your network, and you can even compare gas prices using the app.
In addition to using WAZE as a simple and effective way to monetize your commute and make commuting far easier and faster, I would also suggest the use of these apps to save time (and money), further increasing earnings during the commute:
Triplog – This is an administrative type of app that makes logs to document your mileage. If you are going to monetize your commute, it helps if you can show the miles logged for working and save you time and money during tax season. It can actually record trips and categorize based on your needs!
Inrix Traffic – This is another live traffic app, but it does not rely on human input. Instead it feeds you information from road sensors and other reliable sources. It has a great “current conditions” versus “normal conditions” feature that can really help you with a commute or navigating to one of the carpool member’s offices in a timely way – ensuring you are able to monetize your commute without issues of tardiness at your own office.
Smart Parking – Here’s the thing about a carpool – it may involve a lot of different stops or even just one or two, but it doesn’t usually allow you to be sure you arrive at your final destination at the ideal time. That can mean iffy parking scenarios. What to do? This app shows you (in real time) available parking spaces nearby and can even let you pay for fee-based parking with the phone. It works with on and off street parking and ensures you can get your day started almost the moment you arrive. There is also the Car Minder app that helps you find where you left your car (in case you parked somewhere new and/or easily forgotten). The app also tracks miles, oil changes and more.
GasBuddy – Relatively new to the scene, it points you towards the lowest priced gas in your range, and if you use the Pay with GasBuddy debit card, you knock five cents off each gallon!
So, as someone who is serving as the driver in a carpool, you can use these apps to fill the car with paying commuters, find the best routes, avoid costly problems like time delays and speeding tickets, locate parking in advance and track the car’s condition.
That’s not bad, but you can do many other things to monetize your commute.
Ways to Monetize Your Commute When You Don’t Drive
Can you still monetize your commute if you don’t own the means of actually doing the commute? Sure, there are many savvy things you might do to actually turn the ride into a side gig or simply save time and money during the day. Here are my recommendations:
- Do errands for cash – Where are you going on your commute? If it involves heading to a larger city nearby and using public transportation, you can make money by doing an array of errands. As an example, Door Dash and Task Rabbit are two sites that can allow you earn cash by running errands that are completed by the end of the day or even midday. For instance, you might be a courier who picks up a package in the morning and delivers at some point during the day. You could drop off packages during your commute, and so on. Right now, there are apps in Europe and the UK in which you can specifically offer such services (Nimber is the best), and hopefully they make their way to the U.S. too.
- Get paid to use your phone – I am always recommending the use of apps that reward you for your time or for simply downloading them to your phone and allowing them to track you. Some of the best include InboxDollars, SwagBucks, MobileXpression, Survey Savvy, Nielsen Mobile, FeaturePoints, AppTrailers, AppKarma, Surveys on the Go, and others. I did itemize most of them in Earn Real Money Using Apps, and they are wonderful ways to make money and monetize your commute whether it is 30 minutes or two hours.
- Become better – I know that sounds odd, but let me share one story with you about myself and how I realized that I could monetize my commute, save time and money and think more sharply all at once. I was “zombied out” (as a friend describes this 6PM commuter condition) and drove by two stops I needed to make. I skipped both the dry cleaners and the post office. This meant delays and a trip when I could have been doing something else. So, a bit spaced out and not all that efficient.
Then, I realized that there were tools that could stop me from losing hours each week in the midst of the commute. The first one I used, and the one I prefer is Any.Do. It is a task management app and it allows me to sync my lists across devices, gives me location based reminders (the digital equivalent of “Hey dummy, you are about to drive by the dry cleaners, pharmacy and the kids!”) Using it lets you monetize your commute because you can sit on the bus, train or in the carpool and make grocery lists, to do lists and even delegate tasks for your arrival at the office. It doesn’t seem like you’ll stack up savings with it, but if you add up wasted hours, time spent running errands that could have been worked into the commute and simple frustration – it really pays.
There are many apps of this kind such as Remember the Milk and Todoist, and others. I strongly urge you to use them in order to really make the most of the time spent traveling to and from work. Rather than a straight line back and forth and lots of frazzled times on the weekends or after hours, do a bit of multi-tasking and spare yourself the hassle and waste.
- Educate yourself – Looking to super monetize your commute? Why not use the hours you might spend reading or napping to do a bit of self-improvement. Take a for credit online course and use the hours of commuting each week to work your way towards a second (or first) degree? There are many schools with online and distance learning, and you can start to boost your chances of career advancement or even move into an entirely different industry just by using time to “learn as you go”.
If you don’t want to use credit courses but still learn, why not use the commute as a time to listen to books from sites like Audible or use the public library’s free options, such as those from Overdrive. The Great Courses Plus has great lectures you can subscribe to as well.
- Affiliate market – If you have 30 minutes to yourself each day while riding the train, the bus or in a car (as a passenger), it is a good way to work on your affiliate marketing business. You could spend one day blogging, another looking for the right affiliate partners, another building your audience, and so on.
As an example, why not blog about being someone who commutes to a specific city or area and then monetize it with photos taken during the commute, stories about what you do to monetize the commute, and products or services you use to make the commute easier. Sites like Great Courses Plus have affiliate programs. You could dedicate your entire blog and affiliate content to the individual courses and develop even more material around your chosen subjects. Audible also has an affiliate program. You could build a side gig listening to and reviewing books, creating materials for book discussion groups that occur entirely on a commuter train, and so on. Have fun, get creative and start to monetize your commute!
- Photographs for sale – You can also monetize your commute in a super creative way by making photographs during the daily trips. You won’t want to photograph people for the most part as that would require them to sign waivers allowing you to use their images. However, most of us have sights and scenes that should be captured on film. You can then start to monetize your commute by selling those images to microstock sites. I’ve written about this in the past, and always encourage anyone who is “out and about” in the world to take photos that can be used for everything from newsletters to websites.
As an example, I made money for a while just by photographing different textures. The imprint on different manhole covers, pavement cracks, brick walls and all the rest became fodder for my microstock enterprise. I gave it up when I transitioned to a work from home gig, but you can copy this and start making photos of everything from color saturated skies and unique clouds to sights you see outside of your train’s windows.
- Become an Etsy favorite – If you have a craft that you can do during your commute, such as knitting, crocheting, cross stitch or something else portable, you can also enjoy success as an Etsy seller. Even if you make enough to pay for the cost of the commute, you’ve effectively found a way to monetize your commute, which is more than most can say.
It is not that difficult to find ways to cancel out the costs of commuting or even take in an actual income as you make your way to and from work each day. Hopefully some of these tips help you to start earning money in one of the most unusual ways, even though it is a very common part of everyone’s day.