Monday, November 7, 2011

Budget by talking to people!

I spend $13 dollars going to and from EACH class, by buying 10-trip ticket blocks and 10-token packets. I budget doing that once a month, with the occasional day I don't do it right- I put public transport in my budget as $70 a month. The 10&10 block costs 65.50 ($50 for the tickets, $15.50 for tokens). This saves a little because normally a round trip would cost me $12 in tickets and $4 in tokens. Really, I only save $3. I like the ease of having a bunch of tickets and tokens already on hand as well as blocking that money out and not having it be free to be accidentally used (you know, you think that cash money in your wallet isn't earmarked, spend it, then realize you have no cash for the conductor).
This is weird to think about because the subway tokens aren't entirely necessary, and I could walk and tried to get rides from the La Salle security service. However, I am not really comfortable doing either of those things now (walking through a sketchy neighborhood late at night), so the extra $3- and $15.50 a month- seems like a justifiable expense. Sometimes I still get conflicted over "justifiable" and feel guilty.
Today, my carpool woman wasn't going through Ambler, so I couldn't get a ride to work. So, I missed a day of work, and I'll miss one next week too because she won't be coming through. That's $144.50 I won't have, and if I'm not going to give up $15.50 on tokens where else can I deduct from?

I tried to work through all of that two weeks ago. When I went to the train station, the ticket attendant recognized me and asked about where I go and at what times. He suggested that I should just get a pack of day passes. At $11 each, they cover the train fare AND subway fare, and bus fare if I chose to take the bus ($55 for 10, cheaper than the $65.50 I was spending, although I may still get tokens for other days). They have to be used within the day they are stamped (I wonder about people who might work overnight shifts?) but overall they are the best deal for my needs right now. Yay for small towns!
SEPTA is going to be rolling out a fully electronic ticket system, and while I realize this will be easier for many people, I'll miss things like chatting with the ticket booth guy and having him advise me on the best deal.
Two winters ago, I used to take the train to and from my job. Once, I managed to fall asleep right before my stop and wake up immediately afterwards. I wasn't even sure where I was when the conductor caught my eye and asked me if I was going somewhere different today! He gave me a ticket to get off at the next stop and turn myself around- so I didn't have to pay for a whole second ticket just to go one stop. Very kind of him! Sometimes having a friendly smile always at the ready really does pay off. Although, I was also a girl with pink hair and a bright purple coat, so being easily recognizable probably helped.

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