Transportation costs are some of the more insidious little money-suckers out there. Sure, we all know that a car payment is a big chunk of change, but once you start factoring in gas, occasional maintenance, insurance, and more, you realize that the little things are what really start to eat into your well-planned budget. In fact, transportation costs average up to 12% of the average household income! 

Bringing down your transportation costs is also not usually a matter of saving on a massive lump payment, but finding the small ways here and there to scrimp and save, which add up to a useful chunk of change. Here are just a few of the ways you can cut down on your transportation costs each month:

  1. Walk or bike if you can, when you can

Easily the biggest way to save on transportation costs is to cut out car ownership from your life as best you can. Whether that means going completely car-free, or finding enough alternative transportation options to allow you to cut down to a single-car household, saving on monthly payments, insurance, and gas money can add a massive buffer to your budget and help you save for other important needs.

While there are a variety of options for reducing your car usage, walking and biking tend to be the cheapest out there–walking is free, while biking has a very low buy-in; a few hundred bucks will get you a usable, reliable bike to get across your neighborhood or across town–avid cyclists will even buy trailers or storage bags to help make running errands on a bike completely feasible!

  1. Try out public transportation or carpooling

Of course, the other major option for reducing car usage is taking advantage of public transportation and carpooling (sharing a car with someone else). According to MobilityLab, the cost of commuting into Washington, D.C. from a nearby suburb was less than half the cost of owning and maintaining a car for that commute, even factoring in free parking. To put that into real numbers, they found the savings for commuting via transit vs the average cost of car ownership was nearly $5,000 a year. Talk about extra cash in your pocket!

We’ll be the first to say that we fully understand that car ownership is mandatory for some people. Whether you live in a community not built for pedestrians, or you have mobility issues that preclude alternatives to driving, this may not be an option for everyone. But for those who can go car-free in their lives, the savings can be genuinely astronomical.

  1. Reevaluate your car insurance

For those that can’t cut the car out of their lives, there are still plenty of smaller ways to save money on transportation costs that can add up to significant relief on your monthly budget, and one of the quickest and easiest ways to save on monthly expenses is by cross-shopping your car insurance. 

Most people get insurance when they get their car, but don’t think much of it afterwards–but checking to see if you’re getting the best possible rates can help cut your spending. A different insurance company may provide straight-up better rates, or you may even be able to save with your current company by bundling home and auto insurance or taking advantage of other money-saving programs they have to offer. Check with your current provider to see what the best rate they can offer is, and cross-shop that with other insurance providers to save the most money!

  1. Save pennies at the pump

Fuel costs may be less of a financial burden than auto loan payments, but they still add up, and seeing the pump tick up every week can make these costs extra salient–and extra stressful. Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to save on fuel costs with some simple strategizing and taking advantage of easy-to-use programs.

For one, check out where you buy your fuel. Oftentimes, the most convenient gas station (right off the highway, right near your job, etc) isn’t the most cost-effective, and going even a few blocks out of your way can make a big difference. Apps like GasBuddy can help you scout out the best stations and even come with built-in deals to save at the pump. Or, if you have a preferred station, you can check to see if they offer a loyalty card–these are often free to open and can save several cents per gallon. It may not sound like much, but it adds up over time!

  1. Hold onto that old car–to a point

Often, people think the best way to save on fuel costs is to buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle–but rarely does this work out in your favor financially. The costs of new (and likely higher) loan payments often far exceed the amount you’d save on the gas and maintenance costs of keeping your old car on the road. And if your car is already paid off, adding back a loan when you didn’t have one before will almost certainly hurt your budget overall.

Of course, there comes a point where you’re spending as much on repairs (and lost time) as you would on a new car payment, and that’s usually the sign that you need to move on from your beloved old beater. But if you think it might be that time, talk to a trusted independent mechanic (not a dealership with a vested interest in getting you into a new car) to make an informed, rational decision in line with your budget needs.

Spotloan: A Smarter Way to Borrow

Whether you’re taking active measures like finding a car alternative or switching insurance, or saving money passively by not taking on new payments, we commend you on doing your best to save on transportation costs. But should there come a time when you need a new (or new-to-you) car, that often means going through the stressful process of getting a loan.

At Spotloan, our simple online application process can help you qualify for the money you need, even if you have bad credit or need a loan quickly. All you have to do is go fill out our application to see if you qualify, and you could receive a decision within minutes. Fill out our application now!