Tips to save on fuel, insurance, maintenance and ownership
Transportation can be one of our biggest expenses. In 2009, the average household spent $7,658 on transportation, or 12.2% of income. The only thing we spend more on is housing - even food takes up less of our budgets.
Given the amount we spend on getting around, trimming vehicle costs can pay off with big savings. Here are six ways you can cut your transportation costs.
1. Buy a car with low maintenance and fuel costs. After the vehicle itself, fuel is the biggest transportation expense. The typical household spent $1,986 on gas and oil in 2009, with another $733 on maintenance and repairs. Look for fuel-efficient vehicles and car models with a record of reliability.
2. Check insurance rates before buying. In 2009, households spent $1,075 on average for vehicle insurance, and your car's make and model affects your rate. If you buy an expensive vehicle or one that costs a lot to repair, you could pay substantially more than average for your insurance. So before making your purchase, find out if the car you are interested in comes with a high insurance premium.
3. Carpool. Sharing your commute can help you save on transportation in two ways. If you’re the driver, your passengers can pay to help cover gas and other costs. And if you’re the passenger you will save through lower fuel, parking and other vehicle expenses. An added bonus for many city drivers: access to the multiple occupancy lanes means you get to and from work faster and with less traffic and stress.
4. Use public transportation. Not only will this save you money on fuel and parking, but also the reduced wear and tear on your vehicle will lower your maintenance costs and extend its life. You may also realize savings on your insurance by not driving to work. These reduced costs may more than make up for the added expense of your transit fare.
5. Rent rather than buy. Believe it or not, everyone doesn't need a car. If you are able to take public transit to work and for grocery shopping, you may find you just use a car occasionally. If that’s the case, consider renting. A two-day rental often costs less than $100, plus fuel and mileage. At that price you could go away every other weekend and still might spend less than you would with your own car.
6. Share a car. Another option to help you cut transportation costs is car sharing: sign up for one these services, and you can reserve a vehicle for when you need one—even if it’s for just a few hours. Car-sharing companies may charge an annual membership fee or require you to spend a certain amount per month. Gas and insurance is often included in the rental fee, and users can usually reserve a car online for when and where they need it.
What's next? Easy ways to reduce your car costs