Free Parking

Today I’m going to share another way that I save money on a regular basis and that is by parking my car for free. Yes, sometime I can walk or cycle, but sometimes I need to drive. We are served very poorly by buses where I live and the nearest train station is miles away. (We in the UK can thank Beeching for those cut in the 1960s! Otherwise I would be living within walking distance of a train station and if all those lines still existed, I guarantee I wouldn’t need to own a car. Minor gripe of mine).

Anyhow, back on topic. People in my family ask if I’m ill if they see me paying for parking, that’s how much of a rarity it is! I usually save it for occasions when I am visiting a new place where I don’t know about the parking options, or in big cities where free parking is unlikely.

The advantage of parking for free is that it usually means you have to walk a fair bit further, so you get some free exercise. Although, there are often time-limited spaces closer into towns. You can try doing an internet search to find out where free parking may be located, but I often find that people who know don’t like to make this information public because then they will likely lose their free parking! Understandable really. But, if you talk to friends – they may let slip a little gem that you don’t know about. You can hopefully trade information on another spot with them, so it’s fair. If you have the time, it’s worth having a drive about the roads a little further out from a town centre, as that’s often where the free parking is located.

Around here, you’re lucky if you can park for less than 80p an hour in the out-lying towns and you can expect to pay at least £1.50 an hour in the busy town centres. So you can begin to see how those savings would add up, even for just 1 or 2 trips a week.

Other options to save money may include car sharing, park and ride schemes, cycling or a combination. I have thought about buying a bike rack so that I could drive say 7 miles to the closest large town and then cycle the last mile. Thus I would achieve free parking and get some exercise to boot. Unfortunately a bike rack to fit my car is outside my current budget, so that’s a wish for the future. My free parking strategy also assists me by greatly reducing my stress levels. Firstly I don’t need to worry about my finances because I’m spending too much on parking and I’m not rummaging around for change. Secondly, I avoid traffic jams in town centres and those horrible, multi-storey car parks! Also check out websites like Park On My Drive, JustPark which allow you to rent space on someone else’s driveway for a defined period. I have used them myself and saved a small fortune. You could also try contacting hotels or the like in an area you are planning to go to. In one town near me, I discovered a hotel next to a council car park offering to significantly undercut their day rate! One final idea is to purchase a season ticket for a car park, for a set period which can help you save.

If you are going to take a trip by train, you could consider driving to a more rural station with free parking, as the saving might worth the extra drive. My nearest town charges about £10 per day to park and you could do a fair few miles on £10 worth of fuel! Check out National Rail’s website for station information.

Which leads me on to say, if you live in a sought after location for parking (like near a hospital or train station) – then why not list your driveway? This is a major source of income for some people. Just make sure it’s OK with your local council, home insurer etc first! And be certain to declare your earnings to HMRC.

Do you have any tips to share about saving money on parking?