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4 ways parking fines can ruin your finances

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Fines cost us $600 million a year, but there's a hidden cost that's even higher.

There's nothing quite like that sinking feeling when you return to your car and see a little piece of paper under your windscreen wiper.

You know it's too small to be a concert flyer.

That sense of being unfairly targeted (I was only there for 5 minutes!) and rage at everyone involved (parking ranger, the local council, yourself) is all too familiar to me, and it seems I'm not alone.

Australians are shelling out $600 million in parking fines every year according to new research from Finder.

During the pandemic, several states relaxed their parking laws to help communities handle COVID-19 restrictions and ease the financial burden on essential workers.

Even so, the survey shows 1 in 4 Australian adults (24%) has copped at least one parking fine within the past two years, costing them $64 on average.

Western Australian drivers spend the most on fines, with an average of $75 over the past two years, while those in New South Wales pay the least, $54 over the same period.

Finder analysis of parking infringement fees shows that South Australia has the highest base rate for a fine, starting at $144. Compare that to just $33 in Victoria.

StateAverage fineFines start from

The survey also shows men were fined more than women in the past two years. More than a quarter of us (28%) cost ourselves $92 each on average. That's more than double the $36 copped by 21% of female drivers.

While generation X drivers are less likely to have received an infringement (29%), they racked up higher fines at an average of $92 each.

Meanwhile, just 2% of baby boomers have incurred parking tickets over the same period.

The long-term impact of parking fines

Beyond the frustration and financial blow, parking infringements can have implications for your credit score, insurance costs and even your property.

Here are four ways parking fines can ruin your finances:

  1. Parking fines can be expensive. If you illegally park in a disabled space in New South Wales, get ready to cough up $581 and 1 demerit point. The immediate financial sting is enough to upset your budget, especially if you are one of the 40% of Aussies living pay to pay.
  2. Parking fines can affect your insurance. Some parking infringements also earn demerit points, which in turn can inflate your car insurance premium. Put simply, the more demerit points you have, the higher your premium will be. While a single ticket is unlikely to boost your premium, a bad record of parking fines – especially if left unpaid – will cause your insurer to see you as a risky driver. The impact on your insurance is even greater if you have a questionable driving history or have lied to your insurer about your demerit points.
  3. Left unpaid, parking fines can affect your credit score. Parking fines can be unexpected and infuriating, but they can also harm your credit score if left unpaid. To make sure you don't have any nasty surprises on your credit file, it's a good idea to keep tabs on your score. You can do that for free with the Finder app.
  4. Overdue parking fines can cost you even more. Overdue fines range from $25-$167 on top of what you already owe so it's always best to clear up the fine straight away. If you fail to pay at that stage, states can cancel your licence and registration, garnish your wages, and in extreme cases seize your property! It's not uncommon to be wrongfully fined, so if you think this is the case, you can always contest the charge with your local council. Parking apps like EasyPark and PayStay can make it easier to extend your stay and send reminders when your time is almost up. To avoid copping a steep fine, double check parking signs before leaving your car.

So here's hoping you never find anything under your windscreen except a useless concert flyer.

Want to save more money? Compare car insurance to find a better deal.

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