How to save money on transportation costs

Unless you are lucky enough to be able to bike or walk to school or work, you probably have car expenses, bus or subway fares, or both each month. Today, we are going to look at how you can save money on transportation costs, no matter what mode you travel on. I will discuss many conventional tips to save money, and a few off the beaten path.

Bike and foot transportation

While walking is free, your shoes aren’t. Get the best deal on shoes you can by doing some easy comparison using a common shopping search engine like Shopzilla. Same goes if you are looking to buy a bike, follow the same advice.

Car costs

Ok, maybe walking and biking aren’t part of your daily regimen but driving a car is. This gets a bit more fun. If you haven’t already visited GasBuddy or downloaded the app, you should. GasBuddy allows you to search for the lowest price of gas in your area. You might save a few cents off your tank of gas – any bit helps. Bonus tip, if you haven’t read my discussions about Fuel Rewards and other grocery store gas programs, you should. They offer additional suggestions and advice for using loyalty programs to help you save money. Next, if you don’t have a credit card that earns cash or miles back bonuses on gas purchases, I suggest you get one. For example, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card earns a 3% cash back bonus for gas station purchases. There are many other cards out there that have similar rewards, you might already have one and don’t know it. Finally, you can also save a bit on gas buying discounted gas station gift cards through Gift Card Granny.

Buses, trains, subways, or ferries

transportation

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/smaedli/

For the rest of us who don’t drive to work or school, there might be a public transit option. Again, if you are lucky enough to have access to a bus, train, light rail, or other means, here are few more tips. Your employer may offer a discounted transportation benefit program. This might be a pre-tax dollar savings or straight up subsidy. Either way, that’s awesome.

If you don’t have this benefit available to you, you are still in luck. Occasionally, Discover Card has 5% cash back bonuses during certain times of the year. This means that if you are buying a monthly or even daily fare card, you can save a bit of money on that. Bonus tip: you can earn points or cash back on your transportation expenses all year long with any credit card that earns points or cash back. You don’t have to wait for a quarterly bonus promotion.

And, last but not least, the unconventional tip. Just as Gift Card Granny offers discounted gift cards on retailers, eBay and Craigslist sell partially used fare cards – and it’s legal, at least in Washington, DC. If you know you are going to spend a few hundred a month on subway or bus rides, check eBay or Craigslist to see if anyone is trying to offload their partially used fare cards. You might be able to save a few bucks on metro cards.

There you have it. Chances are, if you need to travel for work, school, or play, you can save money.

 

No sales tax days can help you save money

Recently, I wrote about how to save money on back to school shopping. I mentioned a few strategies such as taking advantage of American Express Sync promotions, gift cards, and tracking store sales in weekly circulars. But, I missed a big one that will also add a bit of punch to your savings – sales tax free shopping days. Today, we’ll discuss how to find them so you can see if there’s an opportunity for tax free shopping in your state or local area in your future.

First, let’s discuss what I mean by “tax free” shopping and why it’s a big deal for some, but not for others. Several states don’t tax purchases, Oregon for example. So, if you are lucky enough to live there, you can stop reading. But, read on for entertainment purposes, and to share this post.  For states that do tax your purchases, many have designated periods of the year, around the holidays for example, where they will waive the tax. That’s huge. Avoiding 5, 7, or 10% tax can make a huge savings dent on “big ticket”items, such as fridges. Maryland offers this break on “energy star” purchases.

If you aren’t lucky enough to live in a sales tax free state, you need to visit this page to find out if and when your state is offering tax free shopping days. The Federation of Tax Administrators has posted a helpful guide to the states, periods of the year, and items that are offered tax free. For example, Alabama will be offering tax free shopping August 7th to 9th this year. But, there is a catch. Not all localities may be participating in this event, and, the sales tax may be waived on only certain items, such as school supplies. You should check to see if 1) your state participates (DC, mine, doesn’t); 2) your locality participates.

Avoid sales tax by looking for signs like this

sales tax

Credit: flickr/philozopher/

Sometimes, you will even see promotions like this one to the left. Clearly, the store is running a promotion, but the point is the same – you can avoid sales axes when shopping if you plan correctly.

So, there you have it. You can save on sales tax with a little research timed strategically with your shopping needs.

It’s back to school savings time and I have you covered

Summer is still in full swing, but for many out there, it’s almost time to go back to school. What can be more dreadful than the thought of being in a classroom all day when it’s still warm out is having to buy a bunch of stuff like books, school supplies, clothes, and backpacks. According to the the National Retail Foundation, consumers will spend $68 billion dollar on back to school (and college) items this year. Wow!

The infographic below (I love infographics) has even more insightful back to school facts.

back to school

Credit: National Retail Foundation

While let’s hope you stay under the average with your spending, there are a number of ways you can save money.

First, if you have an American Express credit card or Serve debit card, be sure you are perusing their Amex Sync offers. As I have written about before, by linking your AMEX card you can save quite a bit of cash on major retailers, like Walmart and Target. Right now, if you spend $79 at Walmart, you will receive a $15 statement credit back. That’s ~ 20% savings!

Second, always look for back to school promotions in weekly ads and circulars. They should be jumping out on the pages right now or soon enough. Hit the sales just right and don’t forget to bring your printable printable coupons, and if you are shopping online, promotion codes.

Third, as I wrote about yesterday, look for AAA discounts at participating retailers. It’s helpful to download their app and see which discounts might be available in your area.

Fourth, when all else fails with bargain hunting, don’t forget discount gift cards. These are always good for savings of at least 1% (gas cards) and 50% (clothing retailers). Check out Gift Card Granny for more options.