If you own a car, you understand just how much transportation costs can increase your monthly expenses. Between gas, maintenance and insurance, your automobile likely costs you thousands of dollars every year.
In fact, the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that owning a car will cost you more than $8,500 annually after totaling the fuel, insurance, maintenance and other associated costs. Though driving your own vehicle has its conveniences, it can often pose several issues for your wallet and schedule.
Cars can break down or crash, on top of requiring regular maintenance, all of which put a dent in your budget. When looking to reduce your expenses, your transportation is one of the first you can evaluate. Rather than struggling to cut corners in other areas, consider finding a new way to get around.
Public transportation, such as the local bus system, offers city residents a reliable and cost-effective way to travel. With designated stops and schedules, passengers can predict the arrival and departure of buses in order to plan their trips.
Generally, you can protect your budget by purchasing a city bus pass. These passes typically have either a monthly flat fee or require you to pay for credits as you use them.
By transporting multiple people at a time, buses also reduce street traffic, carbon emissions and noise pollution. Furthermore, a study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration shows that transportation by bus is often safer than driving a car. Riding in a large vehicle is shown to reduce fatalities in the event of a crash as well as protect from debris in the road.
Cheap and reliable, trains are another way to save money on transportation. In some cities, the train can deliver passengers to and from their homes, work and stores. This option is especially helpful for those with longer commutes.
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Many cities offer monthly or yearly train passes that can easily be incorporated into your budget. Though your destination may be a short distance away from the station, trains offer a reliable and fast form of transportation.
Trams are a similar form of affordable public transportation. While a train runs on rails underground or outside of the city, trams ride through city streets on rubber wheels, are much slower and are tied to a fixed track by a cable. Select cities have incorporated them into the street traffic in order to reduce congestion.
The simplest way to save on transportation is often to use your own two feet. This can be especially useful in large cities where traffic and parking are a frequent issue. If your location is close, you can consider taking the extra time to walk in order to save on transportation.
Furthermore, certain smartphone apps offer financial incentives to those who meet their walking goals. By downloading one of these apps, you can save even more as you earn gift cards for your walking distance. Other benefits you can gain from walking include:
- Getting regular exercise.
- Reducing your carbon footprint.
- Avoiding traffic.
- Reducing stress.
Still offering exercise while providing a faster method of transport, biking is another affordable option for many commuters. The cost of a reliable bicycle can be steep, but it is surely less than the cost of owning a vehicle.
Bikes do not require fuel, and with fluctuating gas prices, this can easily save consumers hundreds each year. With lower purchase prices, maintenance costs and pollution, biking across town is beneficial on many levels.
For those who are not ready to invest in their own bikes, public bikes are also a popular option. Companies place rental bikes across cities and charge riders small hourly rates to use them. If you’re looking to be more environmentally friendly, bikes are an easy and reliable way to travel without hurting your wallet or the planet.
With the introduction of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, transportation is now more accessible than ever. Using these apps, riders can request drivers to pick them up at designated locations, similar to a taxi service. Passengers can save even more on transportation expenses by choosing the rideshare carpool option and share their ride with others.
Keep in mind that prices can fluctuate according to weather and traffic. These “surge prices” occur at the busiest times of the day, typically during the morning and evening rush hour. Therefore, try to avoid traveling at these times or wait 30 minutes for the bustle to die down to save the most.
Though using rideshare services can quickly add up, especially during busy driving times, it is a reliable way to travel as there is always a driver nearby. Use these services to get places fast, without having to worry about monthly payments or expenses.
For some, a car is a necessity. One way to save while owning a car is to join with friends or coworkers in a carpool. If you are traveling in a group, carpooling can reduce the amount of gas used to reach the destination. In addition, the cost of the trip is split among the passengers and is therefore cheaper.
Even if it’s not due to an accident, stop-and-go traffic is a headache. With fewer cars on the road, carpooling makes the road safer and less congested. This personal convenience benefits not only you and your passengers, but the drivers around you as well.
If you have the option to work from home, eliminating your daily commute can prove beneficial for your wallet. Whether it is every day or just a few days a week, you can begin to significantly reduce your travel expenses this way.
Using downloadable apps, workers can link their work computers to their personal systems, enabling them to access the same information as they would in the office. No longer limited by location, workers can complete tasks from the comfort of their home while saving money.
Regardless of your travel needs, there are several options available that can help you cut down on your monthly transportation costs. Cars can be unreliable and drain your bank account, but carpooling can help ease these troubles. By using public or personal transportation and rideshares, you can save monthly while still getting places on time.
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By Larissa Shelton –