Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®
Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management
Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Millions of Americans, especially those living near big cities on the east and west coast, can be classified as “extreme commuters.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this term applies to anyone whose commute to and from work takes 90 minutes a day or longer. It is an unfortunate fact of life, especially in major metropolitan areas, that many people can’t afford to live in or near the communities where they work. As a result, some elect to commute two, three, or even more hours a day back and forth to work.
As a consequence of their extra long workdays, extreme commuters lose a big chunk of time sitting in their cars or carpools or on trains and busses. They, therefore, have less time for food preparation and exercise and for “maintenance’ tasks such as financial management (e.g., balancing their checkbook). Not surprisingly, a 2004 study found a strong relationship between commuting time and weight gain. Researchers studied commuters in the Atlanta, Georgia area and found a 3% increased chance of becoming overweight or obese for every 30 minutes of commuting time. Studies have also found that many people perform only the most essential financial management tasks (e.g., paying bills on time) and ignore experts’ recommendations to regularly review their credit report, prepare a written spending plan (budget), and calculate their net worth.
So is it possible to maintain good health and manage your finances wisely when you’re spending so much time on the road? The answer is yes, but it takes some advance planning and motivation. Below are some small steps to health and wealth for extreme commuters:
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