How to Get Around When You Absolutely Need a Car, Part I

Sometimes, you just absolutely need a car to get around.

Photo by mandarina94, used with CC license

Most frugal living sites will tell you that it’s best if you avoid having a car if you want to save money.

Unfortunately, for many of us, we don’t live in walkable cities or in cities that have easily accessible transportation systems.

So, for those of us who live in the boonies or in otherwise less advanced communities, it’s easiest – and makes sense – to have a car.

Even for those of us who live in more walkable cities, cars can make a lot of sense when we need to get from point A to point B and can’t otherwise easily.

If you’re one of those people who needs a vehicle, there are some things you can do to cut down on your transportation costs.

Here’s how to get around when you absolutely need a car:

  1. Map It Out
  2. It makes sense to take the most efficient route to wherever you’re going, but all too often, we forget to actually sit down and look at a map to see if the way we’re taking is actually the best option. In fact, you could be wasting time and money with each trip to the grocery store because you didn’t know that this street connected to that avenue. Make it a point to sit down and map out your most frequently visited destinations and find the most direct route to each. Mapping out car trips is also great for vacations.

  3. Keep Up With Your Car
  4. Routine maintenance on your car ensures a longer lifespan, not to mention, better gas mileage. If you want to maximize the efficiency of your car, make sure you’re keeping up with things like tires, oil, and engine performance to ensure that you’re making the most of your mileage. Uncle Sam has some tips on how to get better gas mileage by keeping your car in shape.

  5. Adjust Your Drive Time
  6. I live in an area where the rush hour commutes can be brutal. STOP. GO. STOP. GO. HONK! Thankfully, my employer lets me shift my time schedule ever so slightly so that I’m missing out on some of the daily commuting traffic. It pays off in a major way, especially since my commute is about 40 minutes driving. See if you can adjust your drive times so that you’re not heading out in the middle of the mess or ask about telecommuting.

  7. Combine Trips
  8. According to, several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer trip with multiple stops covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Basically, what this means is that it saves quite a bit when you combine errands into the same trip. I usually set aside one or two days per week where I do my running around. If something comes up between there, I try to take care of it on my commute to or from work.

  9. Carpool
  10. Carpooling is a great way to save on fuel while making the commute a bit more social. Find coworkers who live near you and see if they’d be interested in carpooling to and from work each day. Then, set up a schedule for who drives each day or each week. You can also think about doing a carpool cash pool where everyone chips in a bit for gas each week as another way to offset cost. No coworkers available? Use a service like eRideShare to find carpools in your area.

    Stay tuned for part II of this post, where I’ll share more tips for getting around affordably.

    In the meantime, how do you save money on transportation?

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About Mandy Boyle

Mandy Boyle is a writer, marketer, and all-around nice girl. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts – Advertising & Public Relations and a Master of Arts in Communication Arts from Marywood University. Mandy is currently the SEO Team Leader for Solid Cactus, Inc. and is a published freelance writer.