Six Ways to Save on Transportation

Six Ways to Save on Transportation

Every family would like a little more money in the piggy bank at the end of the month, but sometimes it seems like trimming expenses is too painful or too much of a hassle. Well, here are six painless ways to save a few bucks on your transportation budget — and those few bucks can really add up by the end of the month!

1. Park the car once per day

Gas prices won’t be returning to the sub-$3/gallon range anytime soon — if ever. If your car gets 20 miles per gallon in city driving, you’re probably spending $10/day on basic errands within a few miles of your home. The next time you’re about to slip behind the wheel, stop and think if you could walk or bike there instead. If you think it’s feasible, do it! Not only will that save you gas money and wear and tear on your car, but you’ll be getting exercise to boot! You obviously won’t be able to wipe out all driving, but even one trip per day will add up to serious savings before the end of the month.

2. Hang out a little

Remember that time you dropped Suzy off at the birthday party at the McDonald’s Playland, came home for an hour, then drove back to pick her up? Next time Suzy is invited to a party — or any other event that doesn’t directly involve you, other than for transportation — don’t be in such a rush to get home. Spend that hour or two reading a book. Or getting a cup of coffee and meeting the other parents. Or going for a jog in a different neighborhood. Pretty soon you’ll realize that those hours are bonus “me time, ” and you won’t be at all tempted to waste gas driving home.

3. Go with a friend

Another great way to save gas money is carpooling, something that doesn’t only need to exist in the work world. Great places to carpool are to school or to sporting events. Why should you and your neighbor each drive your own cars to the high school for conferences? Share the ride and pocket the savings. Same goes for sports or other extracurricular events — going to the “away” games or contests with the family of a teammate will make the ride more fun for everyone, and gas costs will be cut in half.

4. Combine trips

Make a new family guideline — before you get in the car, determine if there are any other errands that can be handled on the same trip. Does Johnny want to go to the middle school to shoot hoops with his friends? Stop at the pharmacy on your way home to pick up that prescription you ordered, then swing by your sister’s house to return that serving dish she needs for the potluck tomorrow. Rather than making three trips, you’re making one.

5. Get on the bus

Public transportation can be an amazing money saver if you live in a community with a good system. You may not save money on any given ride — the price of one bus ride downtown may cost more than the gas to get there — but if you become familiar with the public transportation options in your community, you may be able to get rid of one of your cars. That would be a major money saver. Even if you can’t manage that, taking public transporation completely relieves you of the burden and cost of parking. And you’ll be able to do other things while en route.

6. Shop and park

No, that’s not backward — shop for the best value in a parking lot before you start shopping. Naturally, being further from the center of the city cost less, so park there if you’re willing to hoof it. If you need to be closer, choose lots that appear to cater to business people rather than tourists, as they’re usually less expensive. For example, the lot that serves the Palmer House Hilton in the Chicago Loop costs $61 per day for valet parking; a few blocks to the northwest, at 120 N. LaSalle, valet parking costs $36 per day. The bottom line: Shopping around for cheap parking can pay off. But if you have time, do some research before you go so you don’t waste all your time and money driving around the city looking for the best deal.

If you have any other tips, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments.

5 Responses to “Six Ways to Save on Transportation”

  1. Anonymous

    We used to not follow “2. Hang out a little” when it comes to being a driver for our kids. We always came home after dropping them off somewhere. But these days, we try to save gas by combining trips with shopping. You just need to plan it ahead little bit.

  2. Anonymous

    I like your hint to shop ahead for good parking–I especially do that when I’m traveling.

    Here are some more:
    * take a defensive driving course
    * keep the tires inflated
    * keep the weight in the car down (don’t carry things in the trunk that you don’t need for that trip except emergency items)
    * move closer to work or to mass transit and get rid of the car
    * comparison shop for insurance and ask about discounts
    * next time, get a car that doesn’t break down much, that doesn’t have expensive parts, and that is not difficult/expensive to work on
    * keep up with oil changes and other maintenance tasks
    * fix little things that you don’t really need; after a while they drive you nutso and make you want to buy a new car when your old car is still perfectly good
    * do more coasting versus braking when coming to a stop (unless someone’s right on your tail) and start gradually (these strategies save gas)
    * don’t break the law (tickets and insurance hikes are crazy expensive)
    * keep space to maneuver when you’re driving so you always have somewhere to go in an emergency
    * use your parking brake when you park, especially if you’re on a hill or near an intersection. Just a little bump can pop your car out of gear.
    * if you almost never need a car, it’s cheaper to occasionally rent one than to own one (try to stay on someone’s insurance though). Also, people will let you borrow theirs, especially while they’re traveling if you drive them to and from the airport, especially if you return it clean and full of gas.
    * look into a scooter
    * learn to do common maintenance tasks yourself
    * check the oil and tire pressure regularly

  3. Anonymous

    All good tips! If possible stop on the way home from work to include an errand. Carpooling for your kids’ sports teams makes so much sense. Nobody in your neighborhood on the team? Might be a good idea to talk up joining the team with other parents. One of your “selling points” is that you can carpool practices and games. You could be helping them out as well!

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