Transportation is the number two largest expenditure for the American family weighing in at an average of $7,658 spent each year. That is roughly 12.2% of total yearly earnings for a typical middle class family. Transportation can be anything from buying a car (and keeping it running) to taking the bus to hopping a flight overseas. Who knew simply getting around cost so much? Well, we do now. So, the question becomes: how can we cut our travel costs?
Fortunately, there are several ways we can save money on transportation. Let’s begin with air travel. Airlines advise patrons to fly off-peak hours such as taking a middle of the night red-eye flight. Also, plan trips, if possible, at the end of peak seasons. Make use of airline miles. Miles can tally up quickly and should be used whenever possible. Watch for specials. Lastly, shop around for deals either with the airline directly or through a third party like Travelocity, Kayak, Orbitz, and more.
When not traveling cross-country, instead of driving, consider taking a bus or train. Not to say you can’t take one cross-country, but be prepared for a long trip. Anyway, busses and trains are priced for everyone’s budget; and moreover, you’re not using your own gas. Coincidentally, this is a great way to meet fascinating people and/or take in the sites. And for those that use trains/busses frequently, you can most certainly obtain a pass, making use of these transportation methods even cheaper. Let’s not forget too that busses and trains mean no parking hassles.
But perhaps you don’t have the social fiber it takes to mingle with the public. This brings us to the good old automobile. For tips on fuel consumption, see my piece “Save At The Pump”. But burning up gas is only a fraction of the total cost to owning a car. Anyone with a car knows there’s insurance and maintenance as well. Some recommend buying a clunker. This has its pros and cons. The pros are the low initial cost, cost of insurance, and not worrying about depreciation. The downside, of course, is keeping it in good working order. Other ways to save include buying/renting a compact car versus an SUV, carpooling, and working close to home or living close to work. Better still is if you can manage to work from home and skip the car altogether. For short distances, consider walking or biking to your destination.
No matter how you get around, there’s money to be saved. Take into account all available options and weigh out what’s cheapest, remembering to check for dates and specials. Taking this extra measure may seem frivolous, but remember that we spend a lot of money on transportation, more so than even food, clothing, or healthcare. That said, the means by which we travel becomes just as important as the end destination.