How Patience, Persistence, and Luck Helped Me Save Over $400 on Parking

I have found myself in a situation where I am paying for parking for work daily.   It has been years since I paid for parking.  My old employer covered our parking downtown and my other recent employer was in the suburbs.  In both situations, parking was an expense I didn’t have to worry about.   Situations and life changes quickly though.  With this new expense on the horizon, I set out to minimize it.  After all, as a Dividend Diplomat, we always try to make every dollar count.  Finding parking took a few weeks and was frustrating, but after a while, I found a heck of a deal.  The title of the article summarizes what happened.  But here is the story about how I was able to save over $400 a year on parking.

The Parking Situation

There isn’t too much to this story, honestly.  As a part of this new job, I was required to pay for parking each day since the office is downtown.  The company is located in a pretty convenient location for affordable parking.  In the busiest parts of the city, parking can range between $125-$200 per month.  This office is located in a spot where parking was closer to $100 per month.   There is one caveat.  The office is located right next to our city’s baseball stadium and basketball arena.  On days where there are games, you must leave the lot by 6 PM.  A slight inconvenience that will become relevant later in the story.  

There was a lot attached to our building for $100 per month. Sure, it is convenient to park right next to my office and the overall cost cost is affordable compared to other areas of the city.  But the cost still bothered me.  So naturally, like every other expense, I started scouring the internet trying to finder cheaper, alternative parking lots.

In my search, I found some better and more affordable options:

  • $95 per month for a covered parking lot within a five minute walk of my office.  You had to be out no later than 6 PM for events.
  • $80 per month for a covered parking lot within a five minute walk of my office.  Here, on days with a game, you had to leave the lot by 5:30 PM.  Each monthly parking tenant had a sticker that would scan on the way out.  You would be charged $1 per minute for each minute you were still in the lot after 5:30 PM on days with a game.
  • $75.60 per month for an uncovered surface lot that was a seven minute walk to my office.  On days with a game, you had to leave the lot by 6 PM.

Luckily, at this point, I knew I would be able to save by parking further from my office and walking every morning.  That was the trade-off and I was willing to accept it.  I had identified a parking option that would save me $24.60 per month, or $295.20 per year.   That’s a lot of extra cash, especially now that we have a baby.  That would cover a large chunk of our new baby’s diaper expense after all!   The one downside is that the lot is uncovered.  So it would having to scrape snow and ice off of my car during the winter months.  But it was worth it for that discount.

A Positive and Motivating Conversation With Lanny Set The Tone

Still though, I was frustrated at the cost.  I didn’t want to settle for any of the options.  I wanted to find cheaper parking.  So naturally I vented to Lanny about this one night when we were hanging out together.   We actually went to his house, ordered Papa Johns, and talking about investing, savings, and of course, some WWE.  It was a really great, positive, motivating discussion.  I left feeling ready to slash all of my expenses and invest as much as possible.   You know, the usual feeling after talking to Lanny or reading one of his articles. I was feeling positive and ready to attractive positive actions.

What happened next was the strangest coincidence.  Some will say it is luck, others will say it is the power of positive thinking.  I cross town when driving home from Lanny’s house.  Thus, I passed the $75.60 per month parking lot.   In front of the lot, I was stuck at a red light.  Staring out the window, I saw a “Monthly Parking, OUT BY 8 PM” sign for a covered parking garage RIGHT NEXT to the $75.60 per month lot.  That was it.  The sign did not have any other information.   Instantly, I was intrigued.

As soon as I got home, I was determined to find this parking lot.  The lot did not appear on any of the parking websites or apps.  Who on earth owned it?   After five more minutes of searching, I found the mystery lot.  It turns out the lot is owned by a church. On their website, there is the following message:  “Monthly Parking available for $50 per month!”  I ran over and showed this to my wife.  Clearly, I was very excited!

I sent them a message that evening to learn more about the lot and the availability.  As it turns out, there were spots available!  On top of it, they expect all monthly parkers to be out of their lot by 8 PM.  That’s two hours later than all the other parking lots.  Not only was this lot cheaper, but it was more convenient than all the other options.   And it only was one minute further away from my office than the other lot.

I signed the contract and sent it back.  Boom!  Just like that, I cut my parking expense from $100 per month to $50 per month.  This saves $600 annually compared to the lot attached to my building.   These savings are pre-tax of course.  My employer offers the option to pay for parking with pre-tax dollars.  So assuming combined taxes of roughly 30%, my annual after-tax savings is $420!

Summary

Does this post contain anything earth shattering?  Not at all.  I was stubborn and didn’t settle for the more expensive parking option.   I told myself that I wanted to find cheaper parking that night with Lanny.  Shortly after, I found it.  In this weird coincidence, I truly believe the positive vibes helped me find this parking option.   Anyway, if you only take one thing away from this article, I hope it is as follows.  Don’t give up, be stubborn, and always make every dollar count.  In this episode, it helped me save over $400.   That’s an additional $12 in annual dividend income if you invest the $400 in a 3% yielding stock.  Think of how much you can save if you apply this to EVERY aspect of your life.

Have you had a similar experience?  What do you do to reduce transportation costs?  Do you have an example of where you made every dollar count? Which lot would you have chosen if you were me?

Bert

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4 thoughts on “How Patience, Persistence, and Luck Helped Me Save Over $400 on Parking

  1. Bert,
    Damn straight. Every dollar you can put towards financial independence is a step in the right direction. Really this is all a means to an end (whatever we want it to me), and it just makes that possibility get a little closer a little faster.
    Any thoughts on doing something really crazy – like biking, a bus, or ride-sharing? I bike to a train station, been an overall money saver for me – probably worth around 3-4k a year.
    – Gremlin

    • Gremlin,

      haha appreciate it! Your comment was the motivation I needed right now. Can’t say that enough. What’s funny is that this parking is actually cheaper than taking the bus or my city’s light rail system. I would love to bike and it is certainly an option. Although, my work does not have a gym. So I’d feel bad for the person sitting next to me. That is awesome that you have saved over $3k-$4k during the year as a result.

      Bert

  2. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small town or simply that I’m a tightwad, but I *hate* paying to park (it’s one of my few pet peeves). I refuse to be a city’s tax payer (and that’s what paid parking is: a tax). Whenever I visit downtown Portland I usually take the light rail as much as possible, as most of downtown is accessible via walking. Although I live in nearby Vancouver, I very rarely visit its downtown area, even though it’s much smaller than Portland’s downtown. Why? There’s little there that interests me, and the city is parking meter crazy. I would rather park 3-4 blocks and walk to my destination than pay for the convenience of parking close. Grrrrr!!

    • Quest,

      I think it is really annoying to, don’t get me wrong. YOu’re right, it definitely is a tax. The worst part is that many people don’t take advantage of the pre-tax payment option or have to pay the meters. You are paying the tax on post-tax dollars. I don’t blame you for avoiding downtown. Especially considering all of the extra costs that come with it.

      Bert

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