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Transportation costs are an inevitable part of life, so it’s no question that you would be looking for ways to save money.
Depending on where you live and what’s available to you, this can be easier said than done.
So what’s the right option for you?
Let me tell you how to save money on transportation.
You can save money on transportation costs in several ways, namely, by finding alternative modes of transportation like walking, cycling, or public transit.
You can also save money by reducing costs of car ownership by driving a smaller, more efficient car, planning trips efficiently, and finding better deals on car insurance premiums.
If you want to learn more about how to save money on transportation costs, keep reading.
I’ll go over all the above methods in more detail below.
Armed with this information, you’ll be able to save money like a pro.
Table of Contents
How To Save Money On Transportation Costs
The Four Basic Costs Of Transportation
If you own a car, you undoubtedly realize it comes with added costs apart from buying the car itself, usually in monthly car payments.
But once you’ve paid off your car or purchased a cheaper one with cash, what else is left?
These hidden car costs might surprise you.
A never-ending cost of car ownership, car insurance costs can easily add hundreds of dollars a month to your bills.
And depending on the type of car you drive, your deductible, and if you have a car loan, the premiums you pay could cost you a fortune.
You literally can’t drive your car without gas.
And since gas prices are constantly fluctuating in addition to the distance you travel, you never really know how this will affect your transportation costs.
Depending on the model of car you own, gas costs can add up quickly.
Car maintenance is another certainty, and sometimes a surprise cost that you can’t prepare for.
If you don’t find the right mechanic, maintenance can be costly.
And don’t forget about emergency repair work when something breaks or you get into an accident.
Finding free parking can be a hassle, taking away precious time and gas money.
But paid parking isn’t always a better alternative, as some parking spots in busy metropolitan areas can cost an arm and a leg.
Add in the fact confusing parking signs and many times you risk getting a parking ticket, which only adds to your costs.
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How To Reduce Transportation Costs
Since you still need to get where you’re going, it’s essential to think about how you can get there while saving money.
So what options are available to you?
If your destination is within walking distance, capitalize on the opportunity to ditch your car and get there on foot.
In addition to saving money on transportation, you’ll get some activity into your day.
Also good for the environment, walking will also save money on gas and parking, especially if you’re in a busy, populated area where parking can come at a premium.
Of course, walking has its disadvantages too.
You can’t go long distances, it’s weather dependent, and you can’t carry heavy items.
So if you’re visiting grocery stores, manage your bags mindfully.
Plus, there is no air conditioning when you walk, so hot summer days could be an issue.
Ride A Bike
Cycling is one of the best ways to cut your transportation expenses, reduce your carbon footprint, and work on your fitness.
Riding a bike has the same advantages as walking but cuts down on the disadvantages.
For example, you can go further and faster on a bike, making it an ideal way to commute.
Even when cycling on the road, you can avoid traffic, saving time.
Unlike a car, you don’t pay insurance premiums on a bike, and bike parking is free.
Unless you want to pay for some extra security in a high-theft area.
If you’re concerned about bike storage, many transit hubs in larger cities also contain bike lockers that you can rent for a small fee.
Your workplace may even allow you to bring your bike into the building to keep it safe.
If you’ve got a long way to go but still want to save money on transportation costs, public transportation can often be the best deal, especially in big cities.
In more rural or less populated areas, there can be a huge barrier to accessing transit options, so the following tips may not apply if this mode of transportation isn’t available to you.
When riding the bus, subway, or whatever transit method is available to you, you don’t have to worry about traffic, the speed limit, collision insurance, or your car payment.
Like the above methods, relying on public transit also eliminates paying for parking, another great benefit.
If you’re keen on tracking your personal finance goals and keeping a watchful eye on your bank account, public transportation can also offer a great solution to driving for its consistent costs.
Finally, with fluctuating fuel economy, a monthly pass for public transportation doesn’t change too much, helping you to better plan your monthly budget ahead of time.
Share A Ride
Ride-sharing apps have become more popular recently, allowing you to carpool with your fellow commuters in one car.
Apps can connect you with others going to the same place, or you can set up a carpool at your workplace to share a vehicle and grab those savings.
If you’re able to carpool with your co-workers, this can be an excellent solution to commuter issues, as everyone in the rideshare can pay for gas, which is a great way to save money.
You can also arrange a carpool with your family members.
Many families choose to commute to work or school together in one car instead of taking separate vehicles, bringing the savings back home.
How Can I Save Money On Transportation While Owning A Car?
In some places, owning a car is a necessity.
The best way to save money on transportation while owning a vehicle is to limit the number of vehicles you own.
Having two vehicles will double your costs for everything.
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So getting rid of one will let you save money on just about all transportation costs.
So how can you still save money on transportation costs when you have one vehicle?
Don’t Buy A Brand New Car
New cars depreciate in value incredibly quickly, so buying a brand new car, especially with a car loan, isn’t advisable if saving money is your goal.
Instead, ditch the newer car and buy a used car.
If you’re able to skip the car loan, that’s even better.
Many old used cars can be bought and sold outside of a dealership, and you can use cash to leverage a better deal while avoiding monthly car payments.
The finance companies may not be as happy that you aren’t taking out a car loan, but losing the car payment will save money in the long run.
Buy A Smaller, More Eco Friendly Car
Larger cars cost more because they aren’t as fuel-efficient.
Driving a smaller vehicle will let you save money on gas and meet your financial goals since these savings continue long-term.
And while you can capitalize on these savings even more by purchasing a hybrid vehicle, allowing you to pay the lowest fuel prices, you need to make sure you keep the car long enough to experience savings.
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Save On Auto Insurance
If you limit your driving to save money, pay-per-mile auto insurance can be a much more attractive option than regular insurance.
Maintaining a clean driving record is also beneficial, as safe drivers get lower premiums.
You could also take a defensive driving course or if you are a student, get good grades to get you the best price on auto insurance.
Plan Trips Efficiently
Utilize Google Maps to enhance your transportation experience and save money.
Navigational tools like this allow you to avoid traffic jams and find the most efficient route to your destination.
This lets you save money on gas since you’re spending less time idling or getting lost.
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Stick With Highway Driving
Try to drive highways miles as much as possible.
This is where your vehicle is the most fuel efficient and will help you save.
While you are at it, use cruise control to regulate your speed and save money on gas prices.
New forms of adaptive cruise control makes driving on the highway a lot more enjoyable.
Keep Your Tires Inflated
Having proper pressure in your tires while help you to get the best gas mileage possible.
It also helps to make sure your tires wear evenly, which means you have to replace them less often.
With low tire pressure, your suspension system has to work harder, which leads to failure earlier than it should.
And finally, not having properly inflated tires can lead to a blowout, which can cause you to get into an accident.
You might think that since you have a tire pressure monitoring system, you don’t have to check your tires.
While having this safety feature is good, it only warns you after you lose 25% of air.
So while you think everything is fine, your tires are wearing unevenly and your gas mileage is suffering.
Perform Regular Maintenance
Making sure you follow the recommended service schedule for your vehicle is important too.
A mechanic will be able to spot issues before they turn into repairs that will cost more money to fix.
This includes changing the engine oil, inspecting your brakes, and replacing your air filters.
Lastly, don’t just take your car to the dealership either.
You can save money by finding a quality independent mechanic that charges less to service your vehicle.
Frequently Asked Questions
I get asked a lot of questions about saving on transportation costs.
Here are some of the most common questions.
How Does Public Transportation Save Money?
According to APTA, taking public transportation instead of driving can save you $816 a month on average.
But how does taking public transportation save money?
Buying a car is one thing, but driving it, fueling it, insuring it, and parking it can also put a dent in your wallet.
These costs can add up over time, making your overall cost of car ownership much higher than a bus or subway pass, even if it can seem pricey at the time.
Public transportation is also an eco-friendly option, producing fewer emissions per person than single drivers.
It also supports your local economy.
If you’re in an area with a robust public transit system, it’s worth ditching your car for your regular commute.
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How Can I Save Enough Money To Travel?
Remember that car payment I talked about?
If you’re really interested in saving money, you probably don’t have one.
In that case, you can save money for traveling by taking the cost of the monthly car payments you could have had and putting that money away in a travel fund.
When you’re ready to travel, you can lower your transportation costs on your trip by renting a car when it’s necessary.
That way, you only pay for the vehicle when you need to drive it, which is another way to save money.
How Much Should I Spend On Transportation Each Month?
Most experts recommend that your monthly budget should allow for 10-15% of your income to go towards transportation costs.
But don’t think of this as a hard rule.
Depending on where you live, you might have to budget for more, simply because it is a higher cost of living area.
On the other hand, if you live in a rural area, you might not even come close to spending this amount of money.
This is especially true if you don’t have a car payment.
At the end of the day, try to keep your costs under 20%.
The lower the better as it allows for you to put more money towards other financial goals.
At the end of the day, these are the best ways for you to save money on transportation costs.
Whether you are taking public transit or trying to lower the cost of operating your own car, these tips will help you to save as much as possible.
And you can use this money for other uses, like getting out of debt or building your savings.
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I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.