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Is 30 dollars worth dealing with Expense Report?


public transport reimbursement

At my company, we can file an expense report to get $30/month reimbursement for public transportation. Now, 30 bucks is not a lot toward train tickets. A one way ticket costs $2.35 and I need to get two tickets every day. $30 only buy 6 days of tickets, about 25% of the work month.

I try to split my commute to half driving and half public transit. The $30 does make a big difference for me because without this incentive, I probably would drive everyday. It takes 30 minutes to drive to work and about one hour on the public transit. One hour is a long time, but I usually have a finance book to read or just take a nap.

Why do I split driving and public transit? It’s because driving in a traffic jam makes me nuts. I hate it with a passion. If there is a traffic jam, it could take more than an hour to slog through the traffic to get home and I’d rather be snoozing on the train. If traffic is clear, I would be happy to drive to work everyday because half an hour goes by pretty quick (17 miles.) So why don’t I take public transport everyday? If you take public transport, you would already know the answer to this question. Noisy people on the cell phone talking about some crazy intimate subject, ripe homeless folks, punk kids being annoying, iPods that I can hear 5 rows away, and many more fine upstanding citizens share my ride. My noise canceling head phones went out a while back so now I’m using cheap earbuds which can not adequately block out the humanities. So yes, I just split driving and public transport so I don’t get too bored.

In any case, back to the subject at hand, it only takes about 5 minutes to fill out the form on the network and print it out. I think $30 for 5 minutes is a pretty darn good ROI! Also, I don’t have to pay tax on these $30 pops and I love anything that’s tax free. 🙂

I wish the company would give a bit more toward public transportation though. $50 would be just about right, 2 weeks of tickets. During the internet bubble, I got yearly passes for free. Ahh… the good old days.

Am I being cheap or is this a nice frugalicious move?


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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 32 comments… add one }
  • MoneyCone December 15, 2010, 8:10 am

    Rather than passionately hate one or the other, splitting it – cool idea! I think that’s a smart move.

    • retirebyforty December 15, 2010, 8:34 am

      Switching it up definitely helps a bit. I’ll try to sell telecommuting more next year.
      I’m typing this from the train (light rail actually), isn’t technology grand?

  • Roshawn @ Watson Inc December 15, 2010, 8:20 am

    I definitely agree with you: $30 is worth 5 minutes. Unfortunately, I have been guilty of not filling out the expense reports myself!

    • retirebyforty December 15, 2010, 8:36 am

      It’s so much easier to fill out expense report these days, you don’t have any excuse. 🙂

  • FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com December 15, 2010, 3:43 pm

    You know, even if it was $10 I’d fill out the form. If I’m entitled to the money, I want it.

    I also recently emailed my hotel bill BACK to my hotel after running calculations and reconciling and said: I noticed you were $0.55 cents off. Please give me back my money and give me a new and accurate invoice.

    No joke.. 🙂 We take our money very seriously!!

  • The Saved Quarter December 15, 2010, 4:00 pm

    Do it! And use the $30 to buy more noise cancelling headphones!

    • retirebyforty December 15, 2010, 8:23 pm

      I definitely need noise cancellation cans. The humanities are driving me nuts, they are so noisy.

  • Everyday Tips December 15, 2010, 6:13 pm

    We don’t have public transportation where I live, but I have been on subways in different cities. I am sure I would prefer to drive. However, I would definitely use the 30 dollars of transportation money.

    A friend of mine catches up on TV shows on his computer when he is on the bus, and it works out really well for him.

    • retirebyforty December 15, 2010, 8:25 pm

      If it takes longer to drive than to take public transport, I would definitely choose public transport. I hate being stuck in traffic. hate it hate it hate it!!

  • Cole Stan December 16, 2010, 2:45 am

    There is a huge difference between $30 and your actual cost of riding a public transportation. Yet, you can still be thankful because not all companies give reimbursement to their employees. Here in our place, only top level management has that employee’s benefit.

    • retirebyforty December 16, 2010, 8:26 am

      I am thankful, but I would be even more thankful if they raise it to $50. It’s been $30 for 4 years, what about inflation? 🙂

  • 101 Centavos December 16, 2010, 3:35 am

    Thirty dollars is thirty dollars. It is also two large pizzas delivered fresh to your door, or a nice set of drill bits, a bouquet of fresh flowers for your honey, or a pound of red wriggler worms for your compost bin. Having said that that, I probably wouldn’t/couldn’t do it. Filling out expense reports, that is. On my next interview, if I have one, it will be my answer to the classic question: “what is one of your weak points?” …. A: filling out expense reports.

    • retirebyforty December 16, 2010, 8:19 am

      If that’s your only weak point, you’re hired! More money for the company. 🙂

      • 101 Centavos December 16, 2010, 3:35 pm

        Well, that’s one of them. The other weak point is that I just care too much… 🙂

  • Kevin @ Thousandaire.com December 16, 2010, 6:37 am

    Here’s what I would do: Find a home closer to work, or find a new job. I live 1 mile away from my office and I love it. There isn’t enough time in the day to spend so much of it traveling.

    • retirebyforty December 16, 2010, 8:24 am

      I used to live 2 miles away from work and I hated it. Work would be calling me to come in all the time, but now I say hey it’s too far. We live in the city now and we love it! It would be nice to find a job downtown though.

  • BeatingTheIndex December 16, 2010, 7:27 am

    Absolutely worth it since you won’t sweat a drop in those 5 mins it takes you to fill the form.

  • LifeAndMyFinances December 16, 2010, 10:10 am

    I could see myself doing the same thing. If there is the possibility for payment on my expenses, I would do anything possible to get it. $30 x 12 months = $360. I would definitely say it’s worth it. Plus, you get a ton of education from your finance books! In a way, I’m kind of jealous.

    • retirebyforty December 16, 2010, 12:15 pm

      I read a lot of fiction and other kind of non learning books as well. 😛

  • Christa December 16, 2010, 12:30 pm

    Definitely frugalicious — I would take advantage of any perks my job would give me, and that tax bonus is fantastic!

  • Suba @ Wealth Informatics December 16, 2010, 4:17 pm

    I wish I could use public transport, it is so bad in our area. And I would defintely fill the expense report, it is part of my compensation and I am working for that already. So why leave that on table for 2 mins worth of work? Frugalicious for sure. $360 would get me a nice 4 day camping trip.

  • Little House December 16, 2010, 6:42 pm

    Definitely worth the effort, I’d say. And good for you for sticking to public transpo 50% of the time! I only wish my own city had a better public transportation system.

  • Aloysa December 16, 2010, 7:16 pm

    I use public transportation more in the winter months than during the summer. I hate driving in the snow. But our work gives us a free pass. So, we use public transportation free. Just talking about it makes me think that I need to use it more. 🙂 $30 wouldn’t do it for me. Our bus ticket is about$1.5 and I would need two tickets. So, it is $3 a day.

  • retirebyforty December 16, 2010, 9:26 pm

    @Suba – Exactly, why leave anything on the table.
    @Little House – I would use even more public transport if the company gets behind their “green” motto a little more.
    @Aloysa – The crowd is definitely less rowdy during the winter. Everyone mostly huddle in their seat. In the summer, there are always a bunch of noisy kids.

  • Buck December 17, 2010, 3:08 pm

    Yeah it’s worth it, every cent counts! 🙂 I’m guilty of not filling out expense report, too. It’s kind of a pain. I like your comment about “ripe” humans. I have that, too. In LA, I even have extra fun like people selling candy bars and needing some change for food. I mix it up, too. Good move.

    • retirebyforty December 18, 2010, 5:54 pm

      We have a “free rail” zone downtown. All the homeless peeps ride the train back and forth in the free zone to warm up in the winter. How’s that for ripe? Well, maybe not all. We only have one guy selling candy and I haven’t seen him in a while, he probably went down south for the winter.

  • Barb Friedberg December 19, 2010, 11:26 am

    You make a really good point. It’s always a trade off, time for money. And a personal one at that, each of us has to put a value on our time and decide what we are willing to sell it for. Personally, I think you’re making the right choice about splitting the driving and train as well as spending the few moments for the reimbursement, after all, it’s $360 per year!

    • retirebyforty December 19, 2010, 8:41 pm

      $360 tax free! 🙂
      Splitting really helps. I think Santa is bringing me a new pair of noise cancellation head phones so public transport should be more tolerable again soon.

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