It feels like we live in a world where wages are going down and jobs are scarcer. At the same time, the cost of everything is going up. In the first half of 2012, we've seen the price of gas rise to $3.94 per gallon and experts believe that $5 gas before the summer is a real possibility.
To add a little bit of salt to the financial wound, natural gas, something that most of our cars can't use, is currently at record lows and although that helps with our energy bills at home, it does little to lower our travel expenses.
However, the cost of driving to work isn't the only cost that many people have to consider. Not only do you have to pay to move your car, but also there's a good chance that you're going to pay to park it somewhere. It could cost $20 to park your car for a baseball game and $15 to $30 per day to park at the airport. The New York Times reported that it could cost $225,000 to purchase a parking space in Manhattan.
Forbes reports that the average monthly cost to park your car in downtown Manhattan is $533, with Boston coming in at $438, and San Francisco setting you back $375. If you're looking for a bargain, take your car to Reno, Nevada, where it only costs $45 per month.
If you're a suburbanite, you don't feel the parking pain quite as much as those who work in the city, but the cost of special event parking continues to rise and that affects everybody.
Can I Save?
Parking fees are on the rise, making people look for more cost effective ways to get to work, and if there's any silver lining to this dark cloud, it may be this: Paying less in parking means paying less in fuel, wear and tear, and possibly insurance on your vehicle. Here are a few ideas.
Ride with a Friend
For years, state and local governments have tried to get us to carpool. There are even websites where you can find people who live near you who would like to carpool. For obvious reasons, that include, "don't talk to strangers" and "don't let a hitchhiker in to your car," this idea has yet to catch on. However, carpooling can save you some serious money. Not only do you save on gas and parking fees, many states have carpool lanes on their major freeways that will get you to work faster.
In the case of airports, go to their website before heading out. Often, they have an economy lot that is farther away than their full-priced garage. This lot will likely require that you take a shuttle to the terminal, but it's often a fraction of the cost. If the airport doesn't have an economy lot, there are private companies offsite that will charge you less to park your car in its space. You can also save a lot of money bypassing the garage that is next to the terminal. Look for something similar at sporting venues, theaters and other places where large amounts of parking are necessary.
Pay by the Month
Some garages have weekly or monthly passes that may save you money. If you have to park in a garage for work, this is an obvious money saver, while possibly bypassing the added time of having to pay each day.
For people in large cities, the bus, subway, train or other public transportation is a way of life, but even if you don't live in a big city, consider giving it a try. Not only do you save money on all costs related to transportation, they may have free or discounted rates in the summer when they are trying to cut down on pollution.
We now live in a connected world, which means that some jobs can be done at home just as easily as they can be done at the office. This not only cuts your costs, but your employer could save money on office space if they set up a staggered schedule.
The Bottom Line
Want a great investment? Buy a city parking lot. However, for the rest of us who can't afford it, finding ways to save on parking is becoming a must, as parking fees continue to rise. The best way to save money on parking is to avoid driving, but if that isn't possible, cutting costs even a little bit can add up to big savings.