Transport costs can put a real squeeze on your bank balance. But while you can always cut back on socialising when money is tight, commuting will always be there, along with all those other essential journeys you need to make.
Getting from A to B can cost a fortune, but there are shortcuts to savings, says Rachel Lacey.
Thankfully, you don’t have to stay put to save money on travel. Read on for our hacks to cut your transport costs.
Cycling – rather than driving or taking the train – is a great way to save money. It’s better for the environment and keeps you fit, too.
The catch, of course, is that if you don’t have a bike you’ll need to buy one. But did you know that if you’re planning on switching to a two-wheeled commute, you might be able to get some help from your employer?
The Cycle2Work scheme is a government initiative that lets you take out a loan from your employer to pay for your new set of wheels.
You’ll need to repay the loan from your salary, but – and here’s the really good bit – your repayments can be made without paying Income Tax or National Insurance on that money. Just how much you save depends on the rate of tax you pay, but rest assured it’ll be a significant chunk.
Cutting the cost of commuting by train isn’t easy, since it usually means paying a premium to travel at peak times. But there are still opportunities to save.
If you spend part of your week working from home, you might be able to cut the cost with a Flexi Season Ticket. With one of these, you can travel at peak times for eight days over a 28-day period. Find out how much you could save with National Rail’s season ticket calculator.
If you regularly travel by train, it’s worth checking out Railcards. They typically cost around £30 for the year and give you a third off your fare. In addition to longstanding Railcards for those aged 16-25 or over 60, there are now options for couples and families, among others. Find out if you could save on the Railcard website.
For longer journeys, you can also try something called split ticketing. Rather than booking a bog-standard return, this approach involves buying multiple single tickets for different legs of your journey. Strangely, this often works out cheaper. It’s a bit of a faff arranging it yourself, but there are apps that do it for you, like The Trainline.
How much you can save on your bus travel will depend on your age and circumstances, as well as where you live.
To find out more, it’s worth checking with your local bus operator. Arriva, for example, which runs routes across the UK, offers a variety of saver tickets. This is alongside ad-hoc local offers like a £1 fare that will take you from Milton Keynes train station to its vast shopping centre.
If you live in London and claim Universal Credit, you can also get a Bus and Tram Discount Photocard that gives you 50% off fares.
Between January and June 2023, single bus fares nationwide will be capped at £2, which will save an average of 30% per journey, according to Government sources.
Getting around by car can be costly, but there will always be some journeys you just can’t manage any other way. Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities to save.
A good starting point is to shop around for the cheapest fuel. Petrol Prices helps you track down the cheapest forecourts near you. The key is to plan ahead and top up before the gauge drops too low. If you end up running on fumes, you’ll have no choice where you fill up.
To make sure your tank doesn’t run down too quickly, you might also want to think about fuel efficiency.
Easy ways to save fuel include:
Going easy on acceleration and driving in the highest gear possible.
Combining several journeys into one – warm engines are more efficient.
Avoid quick acceleration and harsh braking by anticipating what’s going to happen ahead of you.
Emptying the boot and removing roof racks.
Regular servicing to maintain your engine’s efficiency.
If you drive to work, check to see if your company offers any ride-share initiatives.
Looking for support with your budget?
To better understand how your transport costs fit into your wider budget, try our budget calculator. We ask you for some details as you go through the budgeting tool, however none of this data is ever saved.
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This content is for information purposes only and shouldn’t be regarded as financial advice. While we’ve taken every effort to make sure this information is as accurate as possible, it has not been independently verified.