For people looking for ways to cut back on their monthly costs, one of the first places they should look is the car. It is something that most of us will have and something that most of us use on a regular basis. We use cars to get to work, to take the kids to school, to leave on weekend trips etc. However, the price of fuel is very high nowadays, not to mention that there is also car insurance and regular maintenance and repairs to deal with. This means that any opportunity to use the car less would result in instant savings. This is a chance too good to pass up and we are going to help you make the most out of it with our tips for saving money on transportation.
- Use Public Transport
The first tip is probably the most obvious – using public transportation. Every city has some form of transport system available to the public for a fee which is substantially less than using a car would cost – there are buses, rails, trams, subways etc. A lot of people want to avoid public transport because they keep telling themselves that it is not practical for their purposes. If you need to take the kids to school, then yes, public transport is not a good option, but you can get to work and back home using public transport without any problem. You will have to forego a few of the comforts that the car can provide, but that is the sacrifice needed in order to save money.
If you take the bus or other public transport on a regular basis, then you can buy a monthly pass which will increase savings even more. There are even discounts available for teens and the elderly. Moreover, some companies (especially government agencies) will encourage employees to use public transport by covering the costs of the passes. You can at least ask to see if your employer has such a program and you will cut down the costs of transportation to zero.
- Get a Bike
Again, this is not a good solution for the school drive, but it works for everything else. It is even better than public transport because it is a lot healthier. Riding a bike is a great way to get in shape while saving money at the same time. Furthermore, if you live in a city with a lot of traffic, there is a good chance that riding a bike is faster than taking public transport and even driving. You can time yourself each day and monitor as your times keep improving. In terms of money, your savings will vary since it depends on the price of the bike. If you do not have one yet, you will need to purchase a bicycle, but that’s about it. Considering that a bike can last for a very long time, it will only take a little while before you recoup your initial investment and start saving money compared to driving a car and even using public transport.
There is a final option which might be the healthiest and most efficient of them all (it is definitely the cheapest) – walking. Compared to the other methods, the duration of the trip will be increased somewhat, but if you are not in a hurry to get anywhere then this can be the perfect choice. Like bike riding, it is a great way to stay in shape. It does not work too well when you are driving the kids or out grocery shopping, but if your workplace is not too far or if you have a small errand to run, then walking can be a great solution.
- Planning Your Schedule Carefully
Let’s say that you are still relying solely on your car to get around on a regular basis. Even so, you can find ways of doing this more efficiently. For starters, you can plan out your week every Sunday. If you know what errands you need to run and which days you can run them in, you can plan more efficient routes that will not have you running all over town from side to side in a chaotic and disorganized mess that costs you a lot of wasted gas.
It is not hard at all to do. Let’s take a practical example. First you should start assigning the tasks that you know cannot be moved (let’s say you pick up the kids from football practice on Tuesday evenings). Think of where football practice takes place and find other errands that are in the vicinity (could be the supermarket, could be the dry cleaners etc.). Then just assign the two together and you saved yourself an extra trip.
Chances are that you are not the only person you know interested in saving money on transportation. That is why a classic technique was invented to help friends and neighbors achieve this goal – the carpool. To put it simply, there is a group of you and you each take turns driving the others to and from someplace. This means that each of you will only have to pay a fraction of the total costs for transportation.
Better yet, you can arrange different carpools for your frequent trips. The school carpool is probably the most common example you can find and this will not only save you money, but also time since you will only have to take the kids to school once or twice a week. Then there is also the work carpool with your co-workers, but you need to find enough co-workers that live in your general area as to make the trip profitable. If there are five of you and you each live in far apart neighborhoods, then the fuel wasted visiting each place every day makes the carpool useless.
- Know the Gasoline Prices
Chances are that you will have more than one fuel station in your city, but chances are also that you usually stick to the same one, whether this is the one closest to you or the one closest to work etc. But you should also make sure that the one you are using is also the cheapest. There is a difference of just a few cents between gasoline prices at different stations and some people would argue that that is not enough to make a difference, but a few cents on a daily basis can end up representing some significant savings. Look at them from a big picture perspective – how much would you save in a year, or even five or ten years?
There is a caveat, though, as the cheapest station must also be accessible to you. It would need to be on your route so that you do not have to go out of your way to get to it. If you did, you would waste more gas in order to save gas, which doesn’t make sense. Try to find a route that allows you to get where you are going fast, but also stops by a cheap gas station where you can fill up.
- Empty the Trunk
A lot of people use the trunks of their cars as a bottomless pit where they try to cram as much junk as possible, in the eventuality that they might need it. However, more weight means more fuel – it is as simple as that. The only things that should be in your trunk are an emergency health kit and a spare tire and, if you are willing to risk it, you can skip the tire entirely since that thing is pretty heavy. By reducing the weight of your car as much as possible, you will seriously improve fuel efficiency.
- Maintain Your Car
By avoiding regular maintenance checks and small repairs for your car, it might seem like you are saving money. You are, on a small level, but you are not looking at the big picture. By fixing something minor today, you can prevent a major defect tomorrow. Regular maintenance will help keep your car in the best shape possible and ensure that you do not end up spending hundreds, even thousands of dollars on major repairs that could have been avoided. You should take your car in for a checkup once or twice a year, as well as perform other necessary maintenance work such as oil changes.
- Shop around for Insurance
One of the most expensive aspects of owning a vehicle is car insurance. You need it in order to drive legally and, if you ever get into an accident, you will be glad you have it. However, when you have to spend all that money on monthly premiums, insurance can look like a big rip-off. Even though it’s not, it still does not mean you should overpay. Do not be afraid to shop around for a new policy and see if someone else will give you a better offer.