15 Frugal Ways To Lower Your Transportation Costs

Transportation costs can take a significant toll on your wallet.  In fact, most households spend more on transportation than food.  Transportation comes in as the second highest expenditure, after housing.

The concept of frugality in transportation isn’t about sacrificing comfort or compromising your lifestyle; it’s about making clever choices that keep your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

While many care about saving money, wise and frugal transportation choices are good for the environment, too.  As your wallet rejoices, so will Mother Nature.

Looking to cut down your transportation costs?

This article will explore 15 practical and frugal ways to lower your transportation expenses without sacrificing convenience.  Read on!

1. Carpooling

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2019, about 76.3% of workers drove alone to work, while only 9.1% carpooled. Carpooling with just one other person can cut transportation costs in half, as you share expenses such as gas, parking, and even car maintenance.

By joining a carpooling network, you not only split fuel costs but also reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle. Imagine the financial relief that comes with sharing commuting expenses with fellow travelers.

 Plus, it’s a chance to connect with others, turning mundane rides into opportunities for social interaction.

2. Use Public Transportation

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The American Public Transportation Association reports that, on average, individuals can save over $800 per month by taking public transportation instead of owning a car.

Embracing public transportation is a savvy move towards reducing your carbon footprint and saving on transportation costs. Explore your local public transit options, from buses and subways to trains, and discover the affordability they offer passengers. 

3. Opt For Biking

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In 2022, the number of people commuting to work by bicycle in the U.S. was around 731,272. The number continues to rise as more Americans seek ways to cut transportation expenses.

Further, the League of American Bicyclists states that a bicycle’s average annual operating cost is just $308, compared to thousands of dollars for a car.

So, biking is the answer for those seeking a dual solution that promotes physical well-being and financial savings. 

Investing in a quality bicycle pays off in the long run as you embark on a journey of frugality and fitness.  

4. Start Walking

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In our fast-paced world, a walk to close destinations is often overlooked. However, it is one of the simplest and most cost-effective modes of transportation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week for adults, and walking is a convenient way to meet this recommendation.

Walking requires no fuel, making it a cost-effective alternative to driving or public transportation. Further, walking will help you save on maintenance costs such as oil changes, tire replacements, and other repairs associated with regular vehicle use.

5. Work From Home if Possible

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The rise of remote work has opened new avenues for professionals to cut down on commuting costs entirely. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 24% of employed people did some or all of their work from home.

If your job allows, consider negotiating a remote work arrangement. This eliminates daily commute expenses and provides the flexibility to create a conducive work environment at home. Explore the possibilities of working from home with your employer, and enjoy the financial freedom and time saved by steering clear of daily commutes.

6. Do Regular Maintenance Checks

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Research shows that maintaining your vehicle, including regular oil changes, spark plug replacement, and keeping tires properly inflated, can improve gas mileage by up to 3%.

Learn to perform basic checks, such as looking for leaks, checking the battery, and inspecting belts and hoses.

Remember, early detection of issues allows for timely and often less costly repairs. More importantly, schedule regular professional inspections, especially before long trips. A trained mechanic can identify potential problems early on, saving you from expensive repairs down the road.

On top of ensuring efficient fuel consumption, routine inspections and maintenance on your vehicle also extend its lifespan. 

7. Fuel Efficiency Driving

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Fuel efficiency isn’t just about the vehicle; it’s also about how you drive it. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, and braking) can lower gas mileage by 15-30% on the highway and 10-40% in stop-and-go traffic.

Adopting fuel-efficient driving habits can noticeably reduce your fuel consumption. Avoid aggressive driving, maintain a steady speed, and remove unnecessary items from your car to shed excess weight, enhancing overall fuel efficiency. 

By embracing these practices, you save on fuel costs and contribute to a greener, more sustainable environment.

8. Car Insurance Review

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The insurance market is dynamic, and rates change over time. Periodically reviewing your car insurance policy is a clever move that can lead to substantial savings.

Take the opportunity to shop around, compare quotes, and ensure you’re getting the best coverage at the most competitive rates. You might be pleasantly surprised at the potential to reduce your monthly insurance expenses without compromising coverage.

Luckily, you can compare quotes at home on sites such as Insurify and The Zebra. 

9. Discounts and Rewards

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Loyalty programs, discounts, and rewards can be powerful allies in your quest for frugal commuting. Many gas stations, insurers, and ridesharing apps offer reward programs that can translate into reduced transportation expenses. 

Keep an eye out for promotional periods or events where transportation providers may offer special discounts or rewards. If you own a car, join loyalty programs offered by auto service centers or dealerships. These programs may provide discounts on routine maintenance services or offer free inspections.

Every discount and reward point adds up, contributing to a more cost-effective commuting experience.

Also, if you use public transportation, consider getting yearly or monthly passes over daily or weekly passes. Yearly passes can help you save so much more. 

10. Rent Out Your Parking Space

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In 2021, there were over 280 million registered vehicles in the United States. Needless to say, you need a safe place to park all those cars. 

If you have a designated parking space that sits idle for a significant part of the day, consider renting it out to others in your community or apartment complex. Many individuals are in search of convenient parking spaces, and by offering yours, you earn a little extra income that can be channeled into your transportation costs. 

11. Avoid Toll Roads

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Frugal individuals plan their routes before starting their journeys. This helps them avoid toll roads and the expenses incurred. Bypassing toll roads is a simple yet effective strategy to reduce transportation expenses. Over time, the toll fees can add up, impacting your overall budget. 

Using the navigation apps ensures a smooth journey without the financial burden of toll charges.

12. Use Rideshare Apps

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According to Statista, the number of users in the ride-hailing segment in the U.S. is projected to reach 80.5 million by the end of 2023. For those who don’t use their cars frequently, rideshare services present a compelling alternative to traditional vehicle ownership. 

Use rideshare apps when needed instead of shouldering maintenance costs, insurance, and parking for a vehicle you rarely use. On top of reducing your overall transportation costs, ridesharing apps also contribute to a more sustainable, resource-conscious lifestyle.

13. Buy Used Cars

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Driving and owning a new car feels good. Unfortunately, the allure of a new car often comes with a hefty price tag, including the initial depreciation hit. Opting for a reliable used car is a financially wise decision that can significantly lower the purchase price and insurance costs. 

With many well-maintained used cars available for sale, you can find a vehicle that suits your needs without breaking the bank. This practical approach to car ownership aligns with frugality and financial prudence principles.

14. Avoid Peak Hours

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In 2019, the cost of traffic jams in the U.S., including time and fuel wasted, was estimated at over $88 billion. Big cities, for example, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, are known for experiencing significant traffic congestion.

First off, if your employer allows for flexibility in work hours, consider adjusting your schedule to avoid peak traffic times. This saves you money on fuel by reducing time spent idle in congested traffic and also reduces your overall commute time.

Additionally, run your errands during off-peak hours to avoid being caught up in traffic.

15. Combine Several Errands

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Last but not least, combine several errands into a single trip. This straightforward strategy is common among frugal individuals. Instead of driving to town for a solo task, let your outings involve running multiple errands. In addition to helping you save on transportation costs, this strategy maximizes your productivity by efficiently tackling various tasks in one go. Embracing this approach requires thoughtful planning, but the time and money saved make it a worthwhile investment in your frugal commuting lifestyle.