Short answer: somebody has to pay for working hours. But you could split costs with proper licensing strategy.
Usually, designing typeface & developing a font requires about 2500 working hours. Of course, type design professionals know where to cut the corners without any obvious damage to a project. For example, involve client's employees for tests.
How to get font for less? Use some prefabs, automation, optimize character set and language support. Optimize license: use shorter period, so font developer could later cover expenses with retail sales.
Limit territory and use cases.