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Save Money on Transportation Costs

by Emily Guy Birken

With gas prices averaging over $3 per gallon, the daily commute (and school carpool and errands and visits to family…) has gotten rather expensive. Add in car payments, insurance, parking fees, and maintenance, and it’s clear just how much of a money drain your car is. Owning a car will never be free, but you can reduce your transportation expenses with some simple changes.

How to Save Money on Transportation Costs

1. Don’t pay too much for gas. While the website GasBuddy.com can tell you exactly which gas station in your area has the cheapest fill-up, this does you no good if you wait until you’re riding on fumes to refuel. Plan ahead for your fill-ups and you’ll be able to save money by shopping around. Bonus tip: use a gas rewards credit card – only if you pay it in full each month!

2. Make sure you’re getting the best deal on insurance. Anyone who watches television or listens to the radio knows that you can save money with different insurance carriers. InsWeb.com is a great website to let you compare insurance quotes side-by-side. Don’t forget that many factors can affect your insurance rates, from marital status to age to credit history to employment. Find out what discounts you are eligible for, particularly if you have been using the same insurance for years. Finally, remember that you can get a discount on insurance if you bundle home or renter’s insurance with car insurance.

3. Keep your car in optimum condition. Everyone knows that keeping tires properly inflated and the engine well-tuned will reap gas savings. But keeping your car clean can also help. If you regularly leave heavy items in your trunk, that can lower your mileage. Spending an afternoon cleaning out your car will improve your car’s efficiency and make you feel better about your daily commute.

4. Change your driving patterns. Carpooling is an obvious way to save, but there are plenty of other behavior changes you can make to improve the bottom line. Save all of your errands to run on one day of the week, rather than spread out throughout the week. It will save you money and time, and you can even map out your stops to be as efficient as possible. Another possibility is to examine your commute, and decide if it is the best way to get to and from work. Oftentimes we get into a driving habit without examining if it really is the best option. Also, if you can change your starting and ending times for work, you can avoid rush hour traffic and make for a more efficient and less frustrating commute. Finally, try driving steadily at the speed limit. Generally, cars are most efficient between 50 and 60 miles per hour. The greater the speed, the greater the air resistance, costing you efficiency. In addition, staying at a steady speed rather than continually accelerating and braking will help your engine do its job more efficiently. And that equals more cash for you.

5. Don’t drive so much. The best way to save money on transportation costs is to not rack up the costs. Take the bus or ride a bicycle to work. If that is simply not feasible, choose one day a week to leave the car in the garage. You might be surprised at some of the wonderful things you’ll find in your own neighborhood when you’re not speeding past it in a car. Go to the park; meet the neighbors; explore the local merchants. All of those are more possible if you give your trusty ride a regular rest.


Published or updated April 4, 2011.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Donny Gamble

I usually travel to work with multiple people so that I can save gas money.

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2 Melyssa

I just downloaded the gasbuddy iPhone app. I didn’t realize there was an app for that. I should have known better.

I usually do combine trips, especially since we live in the outskirts of town. Just wish my hubby would do the same.

And yes, I do feel sad when I can’t visit my loved ones due to the cost of going to visit them. Sure I can get there, but then what? I won’t have any money for lunch or any other activity. Visits are few and far between. We have to plan them and try to make it a combined trip by doing something else in that area.

Many just hop in the car and go, but I am too budget-minded to do so.

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3 Ryan

Great tip on using the iPhone app to save money on gas! Thanks for sharing. :)

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4 Emily Guy Birken

@Melyssa, I’m definitely in the same boat. We had a baby recently and are 5 hours away from our closest family, making visits very difficult! Luckily, our families have been very understanding about how tight finances are with a new addition and have been good about visiting us. We’re planning a trip in March or April to see my father and we’re actually saving up for the gas money, since it will be about $100 for the trip. With the iPhone app, though, that will make it easier to get inexpensive gas on the road.

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