Save money by car pooling
Using Auckland's public transport system is about as enjoyable as going to the dentist and having your teeth extracted one by one - without anaesthetic.
Waiting for a bus for 15 minutes, only to have three at once whizz past you, already fully loaded, is the definition of frustration.
If you do manage to climb aboard you risk being crushed, suffocated by offensive body odours, deafened by loud conversations or ghetto-blaster music or, as on one unforgettable occasion, vomited on.
It's really no wonder that Auckland's motorways are so clogged each morning and evening with commuters who have opted to stick to the relative comfort of driving.
There is another way.
Back in my student days, we used to carpool all the way from Helensville into the city to avoid the soul-destroying two-and-a-half-hour return trip by bus.
There was always a rag-tag band of passengers to choose from, and even sharing with one other person made it worth your while.
Alternating between drivers means you save a fortune on all the wear and tear and running costs of driving a vehicle daily.
AA calculates the running costs for a medium-sized car at about 28c per km, excluding all the fixed stuff like warrants, insurance and rego.
That means if you live 15km from work, your running costs for the round trip are about $8.40.
It adds up to $2016 per year, so you save a grand by alternating with even one other driver.
Fill the car with passengers and drive only one day a week, and you're saving $1600.
If you're having to pay for parking as well, you can easily double any of those savings by taking turns to feed the meter. Other bonuses include whizzing along the transit lane past all the gridlocked suckers, and getting to travel in your own little bubble of comfort, hopefully with good company.
Of course, the tricky bit is finding a good crew in your area.
If you don't know anyone, the Government has launched a great initiative called www.letscarpool.govt.nz which matches you up with fellow poolers. You can specify whether you want to drive or be driven, and even whether your carpool mates are male or female, and smokers or non-smokers.
It needs to reach a critical mass of members to work well, so think about signing up.
On the flip side, you do have to worry about late or unreliable drivers and fitting in with other people's schedules.
But surely it's worth giving it a crack.
You're helping to reduce congestion, saving the environment, and maybe even meeting new people.
And - most importantly - saving yourself a packet.
- © Fairfax NZ News
The 50c increase in the miminum wage is:Related story: Minimum wage up 50c