Save Some Money on Transportation

by Guest Contributor · 3 comments

The amount of money we spend on transportation is incredible. While gasoline prices have dropped in comparison to the summer of 2008, fueling up your car is still an expensive proposition. Since the United States driver hasn’t figured out that a smaller car uses less gas, we need to find other methods to save money while still getting around.

Public Transportation

If you commute every day to a workplace in another city, you really should be using public transportation. Many cities have reliable bus and light rail service from the suburbs as well. When you compare the amount of money you spend on gas to a bus pass, the savings are incredible. An additional benefit; you can work or sleep while commuting.

Car Pool

Almost as unpopular as public transportation is the idea of car-pooling, but it has some hidden benefits. My mother works in NYC and lives about five miles away. That means she has to get across the infamous George Washington Bridge during rush hour in the morning. As she has been in her job for nearly 40 years, she has a coveted parking space, which makes her very desirable as a car pool mate.

Every morning she gets a ride with three other people. Not only does the bridge toll drop from $8 to $2, but the commute time drops to 30-45 minutes too. If she drove herself and couldn’t use the HOV lane, it would be at least twice, if not three times as long. Since she provides the parking space free of charge, she doesn’t pay for the ride, essentially commuting for free.

Saving Money on Car Ownership

Transportation goes beyond just getting from point A to point B. For most of us, it involves owning a vehicle of some sort. While scooters are very popular now, they aren’t much good in bad weather. Purchasing a car is an almost inevitable part of American life, but it still doesn’t have to be expensive.

Consider getting a fairly recent used car model. The price of a car drops significantly once it has driven off the lot, and you can find many late model cars with low mileage available for purchase.

Look for a fuel-efficient car and maintain it well. While the difference between 18 MPG and 25 MPG doesn’t seem tremendous at first, you will spend several hundred dollars more to fuel a less efficient vehicle over the course of a year. Keeping your car well maintained reduces repair costs and ensures that it continues to run for years, eliminating the need for a replacement. Simple things like changing the oil every 5000 miles, keeping tires inflated and aligned and cleaning the car inside and out will add years to a car’s lifespan.

Additional Savings

Other simple saving strategies include cutting back on car ownership expenses. First, consider your insurance policy. Raising your deductible, removing collision and comprehensive insurance on an older vehicle and bundling your policies all help save money.

Next, plan your driving out well. Wait until you have several errands to run before heading out. Think your driving route out beforehand, so you don’t double back more than necessary, wasting fuel.

Finally, use one of the many online gas pricing websites to find where fuel costs the least in your neighborhood.

We all need to get around, but there is no reason that transportation should be any more expensive than necessary. With a few small changes, you’ll be saving a bundle and enjoying life much more.

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  • CreditShout says:

    Since I’m a student, I’m lucky that I don’t really need a car to get around. I do freelance work from home and can walk to class. I live downtown, so I’m close to a variety of stores and restaurants. So, I don’t drive. I haven’t in almost a year, and I don’t miss it. I don’t have to pay for gas or insurance, let alone repairs and general upkeep of my car. I know this wouldn’t work for everyone, but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

    • Catheline says:

      I took an early retirement & chose to get “out of the car business” over 5 yrs ago. For me it was a very smart decision. It doesn’t work for everyone, I realize. I live in a major city where public transportation is reliable, affordable, on-time, and within a 5-10 minute walk from my residence. I’m 61 and so qualify for “reduced fare pricing” on all bus trips. The reduced monthly fare is $30, but for me this turns out to be overspending. Ea. one-way ticket costs $1.00 or I can get a $2.00 tkt good for 24-hrs. As I don’t take the bus on a daily bus my monthly transportation costs are usually under $15. I don’t miss owning a vehicle & associated expenses at all.

  • Doug Warshauer says:

    All great tips for saving money on transportation. I’d like to build on the saving on car ownership strategy. Over your lifetime, you can save a huge amount of money by paying cash for your cars instead of taking our loans or leasing. It’s challenging to buy the first car for cash, as you need to save aggressively. You may need to drive your current car longer while you save, and you may need to buy a used car – as the article suggests.

    Once you’ve bought that first car for cash, all the subsequent car purchases get much easier. You can buy progressively more expensive cars each time without ever increasing the amount of money you save.

    Here’s a quick example:
    Suppose you save up $15,000 and buy a good used car for that amount.
    First car price: $15,000
    Drive it for five years, save $3,000 per year
    Total saved after 5 years: $15,000
    Approx value of trade-in in 5 years: $7,500 (50% of original price)
    2nd car price: $22,500 (15,000 savings plus 7,500 trade-in)
    Drive the second car for five years, continue to save $3,000 per year
    Total saved after 5 years: $15,000
    Approx value of trade-in in 5 years: $11,250 (50% of original price)
    3rd car price: $26,250

    Follow this strategy and you can continue to spend more and more on your cars without needing to increase your savings at all. Hard to believe, but it works.

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