making your work commute work for you

Being a mom who works away from the home is pretty tough.  Luckily I am able to telework some days with my current position, but that still leaves a pretty long commute for me to and from work.  I live in the Atlanta area and traffic can be horrible…honestly it usually is horrible.  I did not really realize how bad it was until we moved and then a few months later I got a position where I was no longer able to ride the train to work.  Sigh.  I really struggled with the transition of starting a new position and gaining a new, very long commute.  Currently my commute can range from 40 mins to over an hour.  Here are a few tips that I have found to help me make it through the LONG hours in the car.

Audiobooks and podcasts

If you have not checked out either of these you’re missing out.  When I rode the train to work, I always had a book with me to read while riding.  When I switched to the car I realized I would have very little time to read anymore.  There is little to no time to read when I am home and my commute was the time I had carved out of my busy schedule to read.  I initially thought listening to audiobooks was not really reading so I held off on trying them out for a long time, but now I love them.  I listen to books on the way to work and I am still able to get my “reading” completed.  I usually get books from Audible, but I always check my libraries audiobooks first before making any purchases.  I was so surprised on find so many of the books I wanted to read were available for FREE from my library.  Make sure to check out your libraries site!  I was also able to find podcasts to listen to when I did not have a book available.  There are podcasts on almost every topic imaginable!  Look for your favorite topics from health to fitness to celebrities to social issues.  You can find anything and many of the apps to listen are FREE.

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Phone Calls

This might not seem like a big one, but I did not realize how awesome it is to have time to call friends and family with no interruptions.  I work pretty early in the morning, so most of my family and friends are asleep during this time and I listen to my books or podcasts.  I make most of my calls when I am driving home in the evening.  I call different people on different days.  Being a mom of a toddler, when I get home my son is all over me and ready to play.  There is no time to call friends or family and even if there is he is making all kinds of noise in the background…LOL!  My sister does the same thing and sometimes we talk while we are both commuting home.  I can instantly tell when she gets home because everyone is pulling her in different directions and she usually says, “I have to go now.”  The same is true for me, so I totally understand.  

Quiet time

This might seem obvious, but maybe it is not to everyone.  I rarely have quiet time at home.  When I have free time I usually catch up on chores or shows I may have missed.  Rarely do I just sit quietly and reflect.  During this time you can think about what you need to do at work that day or when you get home.  You can focus on anything that is causing you anxiety or stress or even pray.  You don’t even have to do this for your full commute, but taking a few minutes before you get to work or home can really help.  When you arrive at your destination, you can write down any “To Do” list items you come up with or anything you want to remember.  Keep your planner or a notebook close by to jot things down when you arrive.  Depending on if you have a phone with capabilities to do so (handsfree), you can also dictate things you need to do or remember so you will not forget.

GoogleMaps and Waze (or other mapping apps)

These two apps are my favorite and although they really don’t “help me get through my commute”, they definitely can make my commute shorter.  If you are not using one of these apps you should start, especially in high traffic areas.  Even though I know my usual route, these apps help to find the fastest way to get to my destination.  They are both real time so they have helped me avoid traffic and find the best route for the shortest trip to and from work. They are both easy to use and FREE.

Finally, always remember to travel safely.  All of the suggestions I have mentioned should be done when you have a hands-free device available.  Do not try to navigate through these apps while driving.  Set up your books, podcasts and maps before you leave so you don’t have to worry about trying to figure out your phone while you are driving.

What ideas and tips do you have to make your commute bearable?

❤ K

purchase a car with confidence

My husband and I had to purchase new cars about a year and a half ago.  My car, at the time, was pretty old and started to need more for upkeep than we thought the car was worth.  My husband was in a car accident shortly after that and sadly his car was totaled, but at least he did not have any major injuries.  This made us pros at car shopping in a very short period of time.  Here are a few tips that we learned along the way.

  1. Decide exactly what you want in a car.  Similar to when you are buying a house, determine what is on your must have list.  Do you have to have a back up camera or bluetooth hookup?  Do you have a long commute and need a certain MPG for your car?  Are there certain models you will not consider?
  2. Technically number 1 & 2 are interchangeable or could be happening at the same time.  Go to your bank and see if you can get pre-approved for a loan (if you don’t have the cash to cover your car).  Determine what your payment will be based on the loan and what fits your budget.  If you know you can only afford a certain amount, tell your bank that amount and they can tell you a loan amount based on this number.  They can also tell you different amounts based  on the length of your loan and the interest rate. It is good to get pre-approved by your bank so you have a start off point for a price for your car and so you don’t have to haggle with the dealership about your payment.  If they have a better offer than your bank, you can always consider their financing, but this gives you a start and a leg up during negotiations.  Also, check online for car loan interest rates and make sure your bank has a good rate.  We went with our credit union because it had the best rates at the time.
  3. Begin checking prices for the cars you might be interested in purchasing.  This is pretty easy to do nowadays since so much information is available online.  My bank recommended checking out the Carvana (www.carvana.com) site.  You can buy a car through this site, but I used it to compare prices too.  You can put your criteria for a car in this site to get an idea of the type of car that is in your price range.  If you have a certain car in mind, then you can look up that make and model to get an idea what it is selling for online.  I also check Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com).  This site gives you an estimate of what specific cars are selling for based on the make and model.  I usually start with a site like Carvana first when I don’t know what make and model I am looking for, just to get an idea of what might be in my price range.  Then I move to Kelley Blue Book to get the accurate price.   screenshot_2017-01-21-11-59-32
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  4. You also might consider contacting your insurance as well.  They can give you an estimate of what your insurance might be based on the year, make, and model of different cars on your list.  This can help you when planning your budget with your new car payment.
  5. Now, you can begin looking online or visiting dealerships.  You can check online at places like CarMaxx or you can also consider Carvana.  I looked at both locations for prices and then went to the dealership.  I wanted to see the cars before I made my purchase and there were several dealerships close to my home, so it made it pretty easy.  When you visit the dealership keep you list of must haves in mind.  For example, when I went to purchase my car I saw a car on the lot that was the same year, make and model as a car I saw on Carvana.  The car was much less (by a few thousand) than the car on the Carvana site.  The dealership really wanted to sell me the car, but it was more because it had extra features.  The dealership tried to explain that it was more because of these features, but these were features that were not on my must have list.  I explained this to them as well.  I told them I would happily buy the cheaper car on Carvana and since this was the only year, make, and model of the car that they had on the lot, I was prepared to leave if the price would not come down (ALWAYS BE READY TO LEAVE).  They came down on the price because they saw that I was not invested in getting the car.  I ended up purchasing the car for almost the same price I saw online. 🙂
  6. The dealership will also try to convince you to use their financing and sometimes they will say the price includes their financing or something along these lines.  Check their interest rates and the terms of the loan.  Most times your bank will offer a better deal.  

These are a few of the tips I have learned.  The most important thing is to do your research before you make a purchase.  Go into to the dealership will all the information and be prepared to haggle and walk away if they are not willing to meet the price you know the car is worth.

Good luck and happy shopping!

❤ K