10 Financial Moves You Can Make During Your Commute

By Tim Lemke on 18 December 2014 2 comments

Let's be honest: commuting stinks. I spend more than an hour each way into work every day, and I often feel like it's a waste of time. But I've also learned that the time can be very valuable, if I use it smartly. (See also: 13 Things Successful People Do Every Morning)

If you're wondering how to fill the time between home and the office, consider these financial moves to keep you occupied and on the right money path.

1. Listen to Financial Podcasts

There are a host of podcasts centered on personal finance, and many of them are useful and entertaining. I am partial to the Stacking Benjamins podcast and NPR's Planet Money. Dave Ramsey has one of the most popular podcasts out there, and even getting caught up on financial news with podcasts from Bloomberg or CNBC will be worth listening to if you're stuck in traffic.

2. Monitor Gas Prices

If you have a long drive to and from the office, consider paying close attention to the prices at gas stations along the way. Be sure to take note of which gas stations have lower prices on certain days. By doing this, you'll be able to plan your next fill-up to nab the lowest price. Apps like GasBuddy can also help you find the cheapest gas near you.

3. Do Some Banking

If you commute by public transit, it's easy to use your smartphone or tablet to check balances or transfer money. These days, it's even possible to deposit checks using banking apps (though it may not be a good idea to wave your paycheck around a crowded subway car.) This is also a great time to surf the web for information on interest rates and credit cards.

4. Read Personal Finance Blogs

Of course, we believe Wise Bread is the best website for getting great personal finance information. But we're humble enough to acknowledge that there are scores of other great blogs. In fact, Wise Bread maintains a helpful list of the Top 100 Personal Finance blogs, based on a combination of six different metrics.

5. Buy and Sell Investments

Most online brokerages have robust apps that allow you to trade stocks and other investments using your smartphone or tablet. In most cases, it's possible to perform all of the necessary research and execute a trade without hopping on a computer or calling a live broker. Text alerts will allow you to be notified when a trade is executed or when investments hit a certain price threshold. It's also possible to transfer cash between accounts and adjust automatic contributions.

6. Read Stock Filings and Annual Reports

Admittedly, you could probably get more enjoyment out of reading a good novel or magazine. But public companies release a lot of information, much of which can be very useful to investors. In fact, some of the most savvy investors can get an edge by finding little nuggets in 10-Q or 8-K reports, or other communications. Most documents are available in PDF format on company websites, or by searching the Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR portal.

7. Search for Online Coupons

If you take the bus or train to work, consider taking the time to surf the web for deals on things you buy. Sites like coupons.com or krazycoupnlady.com are easy to scan. It's also worth searching for coupon apps such as Ibotta or SnipSnap.

8. Review Your Spending and Budgets

There are several great apps that help you review your financial situation, track spending, and set up budgets. I like to use the Mint app to go over my spending and make sure things are being categorized correctly. Some apps also allow you to enter or scan receipts.

9. Earn Money

Yes, it seems odd to suggest you can earn money while commuting, but it makes sense when you think of using the time to advance a side business. Maybe you can use the commute time to call potential clients. If you have an eBay business, use the time to respond to emails and check auctions. Freelance writers may be able to write during their commutes.

10. Call Your Financial Advisor

If you've got a long drive, consider popping in your Bluetooth earpiece and setting up a call to get some financial advice. A quick review of your portfolio can be done in less than a half-hour, and this will save you from having to make that call during your lunch break or after hours.

How do you put your commute to good use? Switch off talk radio and let us know in comments!

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Guest's picture

Ride a bike for your commute - you will save money, get exercise, reduce stress, increase happiness, help the environment, and arrive awake and ready for the day!

Guest's picture

Maybe it's just me but managing finances on the go from my phone is a scary idea. How secure could that possibly be?