Cut down on car and travel costs
Travel isn’t something you can avoid and buy later when you’ve saved up – we all need to get around. But if you’re clever about it, there are a lot of things you can do to save money.
Cut the cost of driving
You can save money on almost every aspect of using a car – from insurance to the way you drive.
Shop around for cheaper car insurance
Use price comparison sites when buying car insurance. This will help you to get the best deal possible – while still getting the level of insurance cover that you need.
Bear in mind that a few insurers don’t let their products appear on comparison sites, so check their prices separately. Read more in our guide below.
Cut the cost of fuel
Saving just 5p a litre on the price of petrol or diesel could save £100 a year for the average driver.
Supermarkets will often give you a discount at their petrol pumps when you spend a minimum amount in store. These discounts can be as much as 5p to 10p a litre.
The average household has a weekly income of £473 – and spends nearly £65 of that on transport.
You can save a surprising amount of money by changing the way you drive. An AA test found that the average driver could go 10% further on a tank of fuel by changing a few habits, and the best drivers could go 33% (one third) further.
That means that, if you usually get 600 miles on a tank of fuel, you could get 200 miles further before needing to fill up again!
Driving to save fuel:
- Don’t stop and start aggressively – try to smooth out your acceleration and braking.
- Don’t over-rev the engine.
- Drive in the right gear.
- Block shift gears to brake – don’t go to each gear individually.
- Don’t drive around with heavy things in the boot.
- Keep your tyres at the right pressure.
- Don’t drive too fast.
- Get the car serviced when it’s due.
- Don’t use the air conditioning.
- Take the roof rack off.
If you commute by car, consider sharing your journey and the cost with others on the same route. It’s simple if you can find workmates who live close to you – or if you share the school run with other parents nearby. There are online services that will help match your journey with others.
If you drive less than 6,000 miles a year, joining a car club could save you over £3,000 compared to running your own car.
Source: Car plus, Zipcar and City Car Club
Car clubs let you hire a car by the hour or by the day. They have cars in special parking spaces around cities so there’s likely to be one near you. You open the car with a special membership card, so it’s much more flexible than having to visit a rental office during working hours.
You pay a joining fee and then pay for usage and fuel, so if you only want a car occasionally it can be a cheap alternative to owning your own car. You can save money on:
- Car tax (commonly known as road tax)
- Breakdown cover
- Regular servicing
- Parking costs
Public transport is cheaper than driving, but even so there are ways to save significant amounts of money – mainly by planning ahead.
Saving on train tickets
- Get a season ticket if you travel regularly.
- Buy advance tickets. You can usually buy a ticket up to three months before you need to travel, and it’s often cheaper.
- Always check for advance tickets. Some cheap advance tickets might still be available the day before you travel.
- Get a Railcard. You get a third off on many routes, so you might save £20 on a ticket that would have cost £60. You’ll often find that the cost of a Railcard pays for itself over one or two long trips. Get a Railcard now.
- Split your ticket. For longer journeys, it’s sometimes cheaper to buy several tickets for different segments of the journey. But remember, you must stop at each of the stations on your tickets.
- Get an Oyster Card if you travel in London. You can use an Oyster card on the Tube, on buses and on most local overground trains, and it’s cheaper than buying paper tickets. For example, a short Tube journey in Central London will cost you £4.30 in cash but just £2.70 on an Oyster Card. Find out about Oyster Cards on the Transport for London website.
- Look out for special offers, discounts and deals. Look for cheap travel deals on Money Saving Expert.
- Think about going by coach instead. It usually takes longer, but if you have time then going by coach is often cheaper than making the same journey by train.
Go by bike
Travelling by bike is almost free – plus, it keeps you fit! If you don’t have a bike and are thinking about getting one to commute with, then you might be able to benefit from a tax-free bike through the Cycle to Work scheme.