Have you ever thought how much money you spend just putting your car on a spot of land? When you think about it, paying to park becomes an enormous waste of money. Yet we do it anyway, and we often make matters worse by being careless about our parking.
Parking fees and tickets can be act as killer to your budget. But you can prevent parking costs with a little bit of planning and change of habits. Below how.
- Know when to go
In many areas, parking fees are lifted on certain days and times. For example, it’s completely free to park almost anywhere in the District of Columbia on Sundays. If you want to visit a location and take time to learn when parking fees are waived, you can then choose to travel during those times to escape parking costs.
- Give yourself time
We have all been in this situation: You’re running late and park in the first spot you can see. You pull into an expensive garage since you don’t have time to circle the neighborhood looking for street parking. It may cost you several dollars extra every time you park in a rush. My rule of thumb is to estimate how long it takes to get to a destination, basically in the city, and include 20 minutes to find acceptable parking. Budgeting less time often implies settling for a spot that’s unnecessarily costly.
- Take advantage of a pretax parking plan
If you pay to park at your job, your employer may offer a pretax benefit, allowing you to take money out of each paycheck to pay for parking. By doing this, you lower your taxable income slightly and may save some money. Your employer may equally have other special discounts or parking plans for frequent parkers. Check with your company’s human resources department to discover what parking programs they offer.
- Use a website to reserve parking
There are a number of websites that allow you to search for parking in garages or even the street, potentially saving you money if you pay in advance. These sites permit you search for the cheapest spots in the area you’ll be visiting. It definitely beats driving around cluelessly trying to figure out the best parking deal.
- Use an app to pay for parking
If you were not able to reserve parking in advance, you may be able to pay for metered parking using an app. These apps can assist you avoid parking tickets because they tell you how much time is left on a meter and you can include money straight from the app — no running back to your vehicle or scrambling to find change. Tip: Be sure to download the app via Wi-Fi before you depart for your destination to save time and data.
- Use an app to fight the ticket
Many people wind up paying tickets they didn’t deserve because they don’t want to deal with the hassle and time of fighting them. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. Several apps, in fact, will enable you to take a picture of your ticket and send it to a legal adviser, who will handle all of the work. Off The Record is one app capable of doing this. There are fees linked with these services, but some companies will provide you a full refund if you are found guilty.
- Learn to parallel park
Many people will park in pricey garages or pay-to-park lots rather than the street since they don’t know how to parallel park. Not only is street parking greatly cheaper, but in fact, it’s often free on certain days and times, assuming you know where to look.
Parallel parking is tricky, but it’s a skill worth getting. You can impress your friends — or even a date — by fitting your car in a tight spot against the curb.
- Don’t drive
You can’t get a parking ticket if you ride the trolley. You will never overpay when you ride your bike. And you get a lot more exercise when you lace up your shoes and walk. There are a lot of great reasons to walk, bike, and take public transit to get locations, and avoiding parking costs is certainly on the list.
If you know five friends all heading to the same destination, there’s no need for you to all drive separately. Carpooling will save you a lot of money on gas and, most importantly, parking. Imagine dividing a $20 parking fee down to $4 per person.