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6 ways to save money on transportation

Since transportation can be a huge portion of your budget, it makes sense to try to save money on transportation costs whenever you can.

Would you like to find ways to save money on transportation costs – significant savings? This article includes simple ways to trim costs a little bit, or more radical ways if you are up for a challenge – especially if you’re aggressively paying down debt or saving for a specific goal.

When you hear the words “ways to save money on transportation”, what do you picture?

Awkward, s-l-o-w methods of getting from point A to point B?

Slow and Steady

Or carpooling with a character like John Candy?

Carpooling to Save Money

6 Ways to Save Money on Transportation

Ways to Save Money on Transportation

The hefty price of transportation

Transportation is typically one of the most expensive line items on a budget. CAA helps you calculate the true cost of owning and operating a vehicle in Canada. On average, CAA estimates that it costs $9000 per year to own and operate a vehicle. This includes depreciation of the vehicle, which is often overlooked.

Weekend rentals

My friends, along with their four children, did an experiment for almost an entire year. They decided to take both of their vehicles off the road and just rent a vehicle instead – and only on weekends. Before selling the vehicles, they wanted to be sure they could sustain this lifestyle.

Enterprise Rentals

On Friday afternoons, a representative from Enterprise would drive to the house to pick them up. Monday morning they would drop off the car and be driven home by Enterprise again. Talk about great customer service!

Incredible cost

  • Rental = $10/day
  • Car insurance = FREE (covered when renting a vehicle with a credit card)
  • Maintenance/Repairs = $0
  • Gas = Pay only for what you use
  • Note: Weekend special includes 100 free kilometers

Now, because they were regular customers, they were often given a minivan for the price of an economy car, too! Enterprise has locations in major cities throughout Canada. This family estimates they save over $800/month. Worth considering, right?

Become a one-vehicle family

For those who are not able to go without vehicles, would you be able to go down to one vehicle if you currently have two on the road? This is one of the easiest ways to save money on transportation.

I enjoyed the time that my husband and I shared a vehicle when we were first married. It was a bit of an adjustment since I had owned my own vehicle for quite a few years, but I liked the time we spent commuting together.

When it was my turn to have the car, I would efficiently map out all errands – something I don’t always do now that I have my own minivan, four kids later, which was a huge time and money-saver.

Saving money on gasoline

There are many rewards programs for gas stations out there with savings of cents of each liter. My new favorite rewards redemption is with Air Miles. Every 95 Cash Rewards you collect, you can redeem at Shell for $10 in free gas. In 3 months, I have already received $130 in free gas.

Free Gas at Shell with Air Miles

Work from home options

Many companies offer telecommuting options. If an average Canadian could work from home 1 day/week (and save approximately 2 hours of commuting time), this would save 104 hours in a year. Would this be worth exploring with your employer?


If you live in the Vancouver area, there is an intriguing option becoming increasingly popular. It is called car-sharing. On average, drivers who participate in this program spend $117/month ($1400/year) to share a car with other people.

Find a trustworthy mechanic

This is essential to peace of mind and long-term savings for any vehicle owner. Ask around for a highly recommended mechanic. We are thrilled with Sil’s Auto in Mississauga, and will never go anywhere else. Find someone you trust and stick with them!

Assess the following criteria:

  • How are their customer service and reputation?
  • Do they explain findings in a patient, clear way?
  • Will any work that needs to be done be assessed by its urgency? They should map out what needs to be done immediately and what can wait 3, 6, or 12 months.
  • Will they keep track of what regular maintenance your vehicle needs?
  • As a bonus, do they have a rewards program so you can accumulate money off future repairs?

There really are so many ways to save money on transportation costs, from minor adjustments to radical changes, and by trying out just a few of the suggestions here, I can guarantee you will be saving some serious cash!

How do you save money on transportation costs?


  1. SeriousSally

    We’ve been a one vehicle family for a few years now and although challenging at times it’s definitely doable. People are astonished that we can pull this off with 3 kids. The first question I always get is “how do your kids get to school”? Believe it or not folks, they do not need to be chauffeured to the front door every day. The older teens ride their bikes and use transit when the weather is cold or rainy and my little one in elementary has actually grown to love her 20 minute walk to school/home with mom because we get to chat and see all the friendly dogs in the neighbourhood. The savings are huge! My hubby needs the car to get to work as his route is not transit friendly, but I manage just fine throughout the week by either walking or transit to where I need to go (including work).

    • Karen

      You are so right about kids being able to survive without a chauffeur better than we think. Carpooling to and from youth group at our church also worked well.

  2. karaokekingpin

    Many trips we take are short and can be accomplished with a bicycle with a rear rack and bags. For those that want assistance that is inexpensive, perfectly legal (at least in Ontario) you could purchase an easy to install hilltopper kit at Clean Republic. My wife and I both have one. The cheapest battery option we chose gives us up to 14 km in assistance while peddling, takes a couple hours to recharge (for an estimated 15 cents per charge) and makes us feel like a super cyclist whenever we push the button while peddling! We still have 2 cars but have discussed getting rid of the older one that uses more gas. 🙂

    • Karen

      Great suggestions – you sound like the perfect candidate to get rid of one vehicle because of your creativity already.
      Have you costed out what you would save with getting rid of that vehicle? That might be a worthwhile experiment.

  3. Deb

    All of the tips have been excellent, I wonder if anyone has experience with the “Zipcar” industry? Another excellent mechanic in Mississauga is Mr. Molasie (sp) in Port Credit on Lakeshore across from SDM.

  4. jessielyn

    We are blessed, we lived in scarborough just minutes walk in subway,the groceries,and our family doctor are just one block,the school of my son and our church is in front of our house,my husband work is just 15 minutes thru subway, i think im completely happy with our place.If god will give us a car im thankful but for now we are happy for what we have.

    • Karen

      That is a real blessing to have your life so conveniently close. Enjoy the savings from not having a vehicle during this season – you are saving a lot!

  5. jer

    I was very intrigued by the weekend rental idea, so I went and did a calculation. I have no idea how they are saving $800 a month unless they’re including high car payments in the “before” calculations.

    I added together my insurance, license renewal, sticker renewal, maintenance. Once I compared that to the price of weekend rentals ($36.58 for Fri-Mon) I only got a $40 savings per month. My car is paid off, so maybe this is the difference?

    • Karen

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I will try to post more specific numbers to show the breakdown of the savings as soon as I have a few more details.

      • jer

        That would be great if you could! I must be missing something. Great article, enjoyed it.

        • Karen

          As promised: They did this for 10 months, renting 2-4 times/month. They estimate they saved $300 on insurance, at least $100 for maintenance (cars were older so they did not include car payments in the total).
          MUCH of the additional savings (which they actually averaged to $1100/month) came by changing family spending habits significantly. Walking to grocery stores so buying only what they could carry home. Eliminating mindless shopping b/c of limited time with a vehicle. Out-of-town relatives came their way instead which was a big change.
          With all of these factors, they averaged $1500 in savings/month which was largely attributed to driving and spending more intentionally.
          Hope this clarifies – sorry for the verbose reply.

          • jer

            Awesome, thanks!!

  6. Jane

    We rent cars a lot since we-a family of 4- don’t own a car. We do live downtown. I’m just wondering how your friends managed to get a rental car for $10.00 a day. I just went on Enterprise with our membership number and it’s $65.00 a day. Please tell me the secret to cheaper car rentals.

    • jer

      I think it’s a weekend deal Fri-Mon

    • Karen

      This is a weekend rental rate from September – May and then the price increases for the summer.

  7. ANN T

    I parked my second car when the insurance ran out in May. Seriously, I have not missed it, but my grandkids do!!! I really admire this family….that is significant savings!!! I MUST have one car running as husband is a “heart patient”. We are only a mile and a half from the hospital. Also, I often have to pick my grandkids up from school, if it is raining.Travel time by bus to visit my Dad is two hours plus, each way…..if I take my car it is 55 minutes. “Back in the day”, I had my first four kids, and NO CAR….we managed!!!The bus only ran three times a day to Vancouver, and appointments and visits were built around that schedule.

  8. Adrianne

    Be VERY careful about the insurance when renting a car. Not all credit cards have rental car protection – read the fine print before you book. Also, booking through a third party site, like Hotwire, you can get a better rate and they offer rental car protection as well.

    I had Zipcar when I lived in Scarborough – was really handy! Most subway stations will have some parked closeby, and if you have a smartphone, the app is really easy to use. I know the TTC had a deal with them that your yearly fee would be $30 and then just the hourly rate – much better than the other packages they offer. There’s also Autoshare, but read the fine print before you sign up with either. But a great alternative to owning a car in the GTA.

    • Karen

      Thanks for your ideas Adrianne – good to hear from someone who has had success with these ideas.

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