Where can you cut costs? This frugal wife saves $442 by not paying for parking at work and walking a bit farther! Find free parking tips for your city! Kiwi and Keweenaw is a great frugal living blog

442 Reasons Why I Walk

By in , , , , , , , , , ,


I walk one mile every week day. Minimum. Well, at least every day I go to work, since that’s how far away I park.

Walking to work is an option, saves money, is healthy
A snowy sidewalk won’t stop me from walking (even when it’s not nicely plowed like this)

I built in walking for many reasons. But it all started with $17. When I accepted a new job a few years ago, I lost the perk of free parking. I work in a small city, with parking ramps, meters, and paid lots. $17 is the biweekly cost of parking in the employer operated lots.

Now, I know you’ve probably heard tips like park at the back of the grocery store lot to build in a couple of extra steps and get those 10,000 for the day. But I chose to just do that every day. I chose to avoid all those convenient saved parking spaces, push myself to leave 8 minutes earlier, and walk a bit. While I started doing this for the money, I learned to love the extra few minutes outdoors every day.

Working Costs Money

Most people pay for the luxury of driving to work. That payment comes in many forms:

Even though I know that I could do better – drive less, bike commute, or move so I could use public transit – I haven’t done those things. That money that I’m spending feels reasonable. It’s the cost of having a job.

But that parking, now that is one step too far.

I am not paying $442/year to park my car and go to work.

We all draw our lines at different places, and I found mine.

How I Save $442 and Park for Free

Fortunately, my employer has a waiting list…a waiting list? Full of people waiting for that luxury of PAID parking at work. I’m thinking if the parking had just been ready for me on day one, I would have signed up for the fee to be taken out of my paycheck and not gone through the work to change it.

If you live in a city, chances are there are ways to get free parking, without risking your car getting towed! Here’s what I did in the first couple of weeks of work at my new job to find those coveted spots:

1. Embrace Walking

Walking is your friend. We all should move a bit more, right? And for me to find free parking, I was going to have to be willing to walk a bit farther. The free parking spots are not freshly available just outside my office door. walking to work to save money by walking

Well, there are four free parking spots literally outside the door, but I’m not sure what time I’d have to start to get one of those spots. (5:30, maybe? That isn’t happening. I’ve learned to like walking.)

After starting my new job, I started walking during lunch and on break to read street signs and posted signs at parking lots to find where the good spots are! (And by good, I mean free.)

Here’s what I found:

  • Crossing the street (literally taking 10 extra steps) will get me to half off meters. Those are the best bet in a downpour or ice storm.
  • Walking one block, I can snag 2 hour free parking.
  • Walking 1.5 blocks will score me 3 hour free parking.

Well, none of those options were super good. I don’t want to have to move my car three times per day (yes they do enforce those X hour parking spots in many cities). One $10-20 ticket will quickly take away the savings I’m winning by not paying for parking.

Then the saga of walking on lunch continued, but I started going too far to complete research on a break. And after two weeks of literally walking up and down every block and reading all the street signs I found not one, not two, not three, but FOUR blocks with free parking for the taking!

2. Optimizing the Parking

Once I found the four different options, it was time to optimize. That sounds like a much fancier process than it really was.

I first pulled up Google Maps and zoomed the map in to show my office and the four blocks. Three were conveniently clustered together, and one was all on it’s own across a high traffic road. Therefore, I had the fourth choice parking option nailed down.

reduce spending with bikes
If you won’t bike to work, could you walk part of the journey?

Then I used the walking directions feature in Google Maps to figure out the shortest, medium, and longest route.

I also checked to see how far the new employee parking is from my building. I would have been stuck in that lot for six months to one year. It was 0.4 miles to my office, the closest free parking was 0.55 miles, and the farthest free parking is 0.75. That helped me rank options 1, 2 and 3.

  • $442 parking = 0.4 mile walk
  • $0 parking = 0.55 mile walk

Why do able bodied people pay $442 to save 0.15 miles of walking each way (0.3 miles/day)?

Finally, I considered my safety. It’s sometimes dark still when I get to/leave work. Was I just being stupid by saving $442? Should I just pay for parking? There’s those fancy blue light phones in the employee lots and safety in coworkers.

But I started doing the walk during lunch and seeing how I felt. And you know what, my city isn’t all that dangerous. So, I quickly discovered that, while I strongly prefer parking in one spot (it’s a busy road with lots of cars to flag down if suspicious activity were to arise), all the parking options are safe for me.

442 Reasons Why I Love Parking a Bit Farther, and Walking More

The result?

Reduce spending by moving from a consumer city
Most downtown areas have some free or cheap parking
  • I’m almost two years into parking for free and I’ve had zero issues with safety, theft, and parking tickets.
  • I learned that your rain jacket pockets must be zipped closed to function and if they are left open they leave a direct conduit to your crotch, which leads to a less than comfortable working day.
  • Walking in snow/rain/sleet isn’t all that bad, when I was a kid I played outside in this weather. Why should that change, just because I’m a busy adult with many important things to do?
  • Walking helps to reset my mind, and decompress after a day of work.
  • I will always be the outsider, who is more frugal than comfortable for many people (my coworkers still give me weird looks that I don’t just pay for parking).

While I started doing this for the money, I learned to love the extra few minutes outdoors every day.

Learning to spot the free parking also helps us save money when we travel! The free parking abounds!

Oh, yeah and that $442 I’ve saved each year from finding the free parking? Well, it’s sitting in my investment accounts growing, until I pull the trigger and retire early.

Where do you draw your line? 

16 comments on “442 Reasons Why I Walk”

  1. Reply

    Your title and theme reminds me of the part in the Charlie Brown Christmas special when Lucy says she has five reasons for Linus to listen to her, and she makes a fist. Linus says “Those are some good reasons”

    And so it goes with your 442 reasons. Very cool post. Happy walking!

    1. Reply

      Haha yes, I love that line!

  2. I love this. I bet the place you park is way less stressful too because it’s a little bit out of the way. I’d love to walk (run) to work every day, but with a kiddo and a 6 mile commute, I’ll settle for one day for now (and a short walk break during the day as often as I can).

    1. Reply

      Yep! I avoid the line of cars waiting to get out of the parking lot at the end of the day!

  3. Reply

    OMG, you are kidding right? There are actually employers that charge employees to park at work? For someone in a US rural flyover state you can’t imagine how preposterous that sounds. I don’t think there is a single job in Arkansas where employer provided parking comes with a fee. Yikes, that’s like reason 443 not to live in a metro area. Great post though, sound logic. Because we get to park right at the office door here, or I did back during my 9 to 5 days, we have to get up and run several miles in the morning before work to get our steps in. Keep it up, your lean and fit older self will appreciate the steps you are taking now, see what I did there?

    1. Reply

      Yeah, my hubby, who grew up in a small city was pretty shocked that paying for parking is REAL. It’s pretty great to naturally build in some moving to my day.

  4. I try to walk a mile everyday, and usually can get to that, even with my parking for work being literally right next to my office haha. I may be getting transferred to another office soon which would be about a mile from my apartment. I’ll definitely be walking/biking in then!!

    1. Reply

      Nice! Oh, and I hope you get transferred and can walk/bike to work! When I was last applying to jobs I interviewed at a place 2 miles from my home. I would have had to take a BIG paycut to take the job, but that short bike ride to work would have been amazing!

  5. Reply

    I love walking! However, I get free parking at work. So I walk for no purpose other than the pure joy of walking.

    1. Reply

      Oh yeah, I never would have started this if I had been given free parking! Plus this encourages me to walk more in the evenings and weekends since I found I love it so much.

  6. I used to take a taxi every day to work until I realized how much it cost me. For me time was money and that 20 minute walk was turned into a 3 minute taxi ride. I realized that walking wasn’t a bad decision even by the hourly so started doing it. I wish I’d done it sooner!

    1. Reply

      Wow, yeah, that probably led to some major savings! It’s amazing the mental clarity that walking can provide, plus 40 extra minutes of time for podcasts!

  7. That is SO CRAZY that the paid employer parking is only slightly closer and expensive. Shakin’ my head over here. I did walk to work for about two months when we were a single-car family. Honestly? It wasn’t for me. I almost got run over three times (and I was on the sidewalk, mind you). I also always got to work sweaty and horrible looking, which wasn’t great as a marketer who’s supposed to look super professional.

    We did save a LOT of money by doing this though! I stopped walking when a car once popped the sidewalk curb and almost barreled into me. That was the line right there.

    1. Reply

      That’s a fair line to draw! Fortunately, I have a sidwalk, 2 feet of grass, and a curb between me and the road!

  8. Reply

    I walk at least 30 minutes a day. Been listening to ChooseFi podcasts.. great for clearing the head.

  9. That is a great reason to walk, indeed, yikes! Our uni started charging for parking a couple years back as well, to encourage public transit and walking/biking. I don’t know if it had an effect, but students are really good at using their bikes!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.