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5 Ways To Save On Transportation

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If you are considering a new car, here are five suggestions for savings money on your purchase.

1. Buy a standard-transmission auto. You can often get a discount of $1000-2000 dollars from a dealer if you buy a standard transmission instead of an automatic transmission. North Americans do not seem to care for standards, unless they are race car drivers, but standard cars provide much more control in almost every traffic situation. Although they’re hell on your knees in a traffic jam.

If you drive a “standard” car properly, they are much more fuel-efficient. And at the cost of gas these days, any savings will add up. Many insurance companies also reduce the premium for a standard car, because standard drivers tend to be more conscientious of the entire driving process at all times, and thus more careful drivers, relatively speaking. [Some also turn into johnny speedracer.]

2. Buy a black car, whether standard or automatic transmission. This may not be true as much these days, but when I bought my first standard car, it was a black Suzuki Swift sedan. Black was not popular those days, and I saved another $1000, for a total of $2000 savings. It may not be black these days, but some colors are bound to be more popular than others and thus more expensive.

If I’d put that $2000 into an online savings account of around 4%, even if interest was only paid out once a year, I’d have about an extra $850 after 10 years. Not a great deal of money, but useful for emergencies and maybe the checkup that standards need every once in a while. But throw in any savings from driving a standard, and you’ll have some significant savings.

3. Pay your insurance premiums once a year instead of biannually or monthly. You have to shell out a lot of money all at once, but you get a lower total yearly cost as a result.

4. Take public transit instead, or alternate days. Anyone who’s lived in a small city or town knows that this is actually hard. But in a big city, high rents are offset by the fact that public transport is general pretty efficient. You can save hundreds of dollars per month by taking transit.

My last two cars (Subarus both) were each costing me about $1200/m in total, including all related costs. At the time, I was commuting close to 170 miles daily (total in both directions). As soon as I moved closer to work, I saved an incredible amount of money, which more than covered my increased rental costs.

5. Sell your car and join an auto-sharing collective. Unless you are actually on the road a great deal, your car is probably stationary most of each day. So as an investment, unless it’s a classic car or made of precious metals, it’s going to devalue.

As a result, a lot of people concerned about both their investment and the environment have given up their cars. Some have joined auto-sharing collectives. Sign-up costs vary, but some of the brochures I’ve read suggest that these collectives may be ideal for certain lifestyles, including singles, young couples with no children (DINKs = Dual Income No Kids) or just young children, and seniors.

Something things to think about, the next time you consider buying a car.

{ 3 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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3 Responses to “5 Ways To Save On Transportation”

  1. Julie Ali says:

    Nice article.

    I especially liked the fact that you mention using public transit for work related transport needs. My husband uses the bus to go back and forth to work; he buys a monthly transit pass. I work casually and I tend to buy bus tickets for the days I work rather than a bus pass. This one step has saved us a small but significant amount for the insurance on our minivan which we now use solely to transport our boys to school, go grocery shopping or vacations. In addition, with gasoline prices the way they are, using the car only occasionally helps us to save some money in terms of fuel costs.

    We also got rid of one car and now just have the minivan. If we lived closer to work, it would be the best possible scenario for decreasing car related costs, since we could just walk to work but unfortunately, it is just too expensive to buy a house near to where my husband works. So using the bus, using the minivan infrequently and hopefully, in the near future trading in the gas guzzling minivan for a smaller model car, will be effective measures at controlling the costs of driving.

    An auto sharing collective within an extended family could also be a way of shaving costs; one car is shared between grandparents, kids and grandkids. This might get a trifle hairy in terms of scheduling though!

  2. Pete says:

    This is such a great post i will use all this information soon as i am on the look out for a new automobile

    Thanks Again

  3. raj says:

    @Julie, @Pete: Thanks for the compliment.

    Be on the lookout for car collectives. Sometimes PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) members start their own, and have worked out the logistics. When I lived in a twin-cities area of about 240,000, there was one group with about 100 cars. The fact is, if you are comfortable with it, you can lend out your car to a collective and earn some money. If there isn’t one in your area, consider forming one with other partners as a non-profit entity, if you have the time and inclination. You can still pay yourself a salary from the operation.

    I never joined, but the car collective in my area required a $500 deposit and a relatively small per-usage fee. And if there was a situation where you only wanted one-way use of a vehicle, they’d try to find someone to meet you.

    An alternative for students, at least in Canada, is a ride-share program. It’s been about ten years, but when I was visiting Montreal, Quebec frequenctly, I provided a few rides from Toronto, Ontario, and enjoyed some cash for the effort. The riders were students, and the trip cost less than a bus ride.


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