Give yourself a raise: Avoid Tolls

11:46 AM, Jan 7, 2009   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - When my wife got transferred to Brandon in late 2006, it seemed like a no-brainer that we'd have to move from Lutz to Brandon. The commute was just too long and too hard on her every day. For me, the commute from Brandon to St. Petersburg would be a piece of cake because of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. So, we moved. My wife's near her work and the Expressway became a drain on my wallet.

At first, the tolls didn't bother me. I just had my Sunpass recharge $75 every time I went down to $20. I could get on at Brandon Boulevard and drive all the way to Gandy in Tampa at a good clip without hitting hardly any traffic. 

I began noticing how much I was paying for tolls about the time gas spiked this summer. The high price of gas was putting a crimp on my budget and I had to look for places to cut back. However, I couldn't wean myself off the toll road. I cut back in other ways figuring the toll road was just the cost of living in Brandon and working in St. Pete. Plus, I must confess, looking at a map, I couldn't see an easier way of going to work without adding a lot of time to my commute.

Around the second week of December, I decided to take a closer look at my budget. The $100 ear-marked for tolls mocked me. I made the decision to do away with my toll paying chain.

I sat down with Google maps and plotted out my course.  According to Google, my best bet was to take State Road 60 to I-4 to I-275 to the Howard Frankland. So, my first morning off of tolls I took it.  That morning, I learned that Google didn't take into account crazy morning traffic and I was actually 15 minutes later than I expected.

After talking with a few people at work, I realized my best bet may be Bayshore Boulevard. So, the next morning I took Gandy to Bayshore to Channelside to 60. It actually worked out well. I enjoyed rolling down my window as I drove 40 mph on Bayshore. It was relaxing and better scenery. Who can argue with driving past the water on a beautiful bay area day?

Now that I've gotten used to the drive, I've found that it takes me an average of 15 minutes longer each way for my commute. But for that half-hour a day, I'm saving $5. That's $25 a week, $100 a month, and $1,200 a year. Not bad. I'm sure I can find something to do with that extra money this year. 

Michael Weber, 10 Connects News

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