Parking costs are yet another example of our paychecks going down and prices going up. The average consumer can’t seem to win in this post 2008 economy and it seems to hit us in every area of our life – especially in transportation. You’re paying around $4 per gallon to drive your car but possibly more than that to park it. If you fly regularly, you’re likely paying $15 to $30 or more per day to park your car in their lot and that’s for a space that is far away from the terminal and possibly not even in a garage.
The same prices are a reality for people who have to park in a garage each day for work. If you work in a city like Manhattan, you’re paying an average of $41 per day according to one survey and if you’re in Chicago, the average is $32! Even worse, have you heard of those apartment complexes that charge tens of thousands of dollars for a parking space?
Now that we got the bad news out of the way, let’s look for ways to reduce parking costs. Luckily, there are some common sense approaches to reducing your costs.
You’ve heard about carpooling and if you’re one of those who doesn’t like to be around people early in the morning, it may seem like a terrible idea but carpooling will not only cut your parking fees in half but it will also half the price to get there if you split the gas and parking fees. And don’t forget about those carpool lanes on some interstates.
2. Economy Lots
Many airports have economy lots that are further away, are almost always not in a garage, and require you take a shuttle to the terminal. At some airports, economy lots are a third of the cost. Check out your parking options on the airport’s website before arriving. Also remember that there are almost always private parking lots off-site. Check those out as well.
3. Monthly Passes
Some lots offer weekly or monthly parking passes at a discounted price. If you’re parking in a lot as part of your daily job, this is a must. If you’ve never asked if one of these passes is available, it’s in your best interest to find out.
4. Public Transportation
Sure, it’s not the most convenient way to get around but it saves a lot of money and on days when there is an ozone alert, public transportation is often free or low cost. Sometimes your employer will cover the cost of public transportation too. This not only saves on parking but driving to work takes years off the life of your car and in most cases there is no tax write off unless you’re self-employed. This makes public transportation look a lot more attractive.
Ask your employer if you can work from home one or two days a week to save on transportation costs. Telecommuting isn’t practical for some jobs but for those that involve working at a desk or computer for most of the day, telecommuting may be an option.
If you think parking is expensive in America, in Europe it’s even worse but that’s little consolation for people who are paying $800 or more per month in parking fees. The best and most practical way to cut costs is to get more people in the car but there are other ways too.
Readers: How do you save money on parking costs? Leave a comment below!