You may have a difficult time finding free parking close to your apartment, especially if you live in or near a city. Of course, dishing out dollars to keep your car in a certain spot can add up quickly and become a drain on your finances. While you may not avoid paying for parking entirely, you can create strategies to cut costs. Here are a few tips:

Know the Law

Before you move into a new apartment, get on the town or city’s website and investigate the parking rules. Some neighborhoods require you to have a permit to park on the street while others do not. The type of permit you need may depend upon the time of day. For example, some towns require passes for both night and day. By knowing the rules you are more likely to avoid getting a ticket.

Unfortunately, you may just have to pay for a parking permit. If your building doesn’t have a lot and the rest of town maintains strict rules, shelling out the money for the pass is the cheapest and most risk-free way to park your car. Try to get an apartment that does have a parking lot. You may have to pay a fee for a spot, but it’ll be cheaper than using a parking garage, paying the city for a permit or being ticketed for improper parking.

Read Signs

Always read parking signs before you leave your car. Some spots have specifics on when you can park there and for how long, so it’s important you’re aware. Misuse could result in a ticket. If you park in a spot with a time limit, keep track of the clock and move your car later. Make a note of these areas and create a mental parking map of your neighborhood. For example, if you know that Main Street allows two-hour parking after 10 a.m. and South Street allows parking between 9 a.m. and noon, then you can plan your day accordingly. Park on South Street in the morning, and move the car to Main Street when your time is up.

Look For Free Days

Many pay-to-park lots offer free parking certain days of the week, usually Sundays. Furthermore, some towns have open or free parking over holiday weekends. For example, if you have to have a permit to park on the street in your town, the municipality might create open days over Christmas or New Year’s. Call the parking office of your town when a big holiday approaches to find out if any special rules apply.

Take Advantage of Visitor Passes

Towns that require permits for street parking often offer visitor passes. You usually call the parking office, give your license plate, and the make and model of your car, and receive a confirmation number. The authorities will know your car is parked legally even if you don’t have a pass. However, you’ll probably only have a limited number of days you can use these passes each year, so be strategic.

Towns that don’t require permits for street parking may still ticket cars left overnight. Call the police station to let them know your car will be there so they don’t ticket it.