Burning Money In The Gas Tank

In every news story there is talk of rising gas prices. Recently it was reported that prices ranged from $3.36 in Denver to $4.35/gallon in Los Angeles. We may not have much control over the complex world oil situation but we can look at controlling how it affects us.

If you drive an average of 15,000 miles each year (or 1,250 miles/month), a rise from $3.50/gallon to $4.00/gallon will cost you an additional $40/month if your vehicle gets 15 miles/gallon. If your vehicle gets 30 miles/gallon your increased gas costs for the month would be about $20 with a $.50 increase in gas prices.

The biggest impact on gas costs in the household budget may be the vehicle you drive and other driving habits. If you drive a vehicle that gets 15 miles/gallon and you drive 15,000 miles/year, you spend $333 each month (or almost $4,000/year) in gas. In you get 30 miles/gallon and drive 15,000 miles/year, you will spend half that amount or $166/month (just under $2,000/year). Just think if you drive more miles than this 15,000 miles/year example or your household has two or more cars putting on miles at this rate. Most cars probably get mileage somewhere in between but the cost difference of gas based on mileage alone can be significant.

We often see other tips to reduce gas consumption. When gas prices rise we look at them more seriously, at least momentarily. Then we slip back into old habits and saving gas falls off the radar. No matter where gas prices are, if saving considerable money each month were possible, wouldn’t that alone be worth it? So maybe looking at these tips as a money saving measure is worth a second look.

1. Whenever you are in the market for a vehicle, gas mileage should be a big factor in your decision. With the costs of buying and selling vehicles, doing a trade for that purpose alone may or may not be cost effective. But it may be worth checking into if you put on a lot of miles. Crunch the numbers.

2. Check gas prices at on-line sites like gasbuddy.com. Also some stations may offer a discount for paying with cash or check.

3. Walk or ride a bike when possible. The exercise and the gas savings give a double advantage.

4. Carpool or use mass transportation. Most people immediately disregard these options because it seems to inhibit our freedom to come and go as we please. In reality it can make you more efficient with a set schedule to work within.

5. Plan trips carefully. If doing errands for the week, map them out and plan a day or days where you don’t use the car at all. A 10 mile round trip at $4.00/gallon will cost $2.67 in gas for a vehicle getting 15 miles/gallon. That cost can add up if doing multiple duplicate trips to the same general areas.

6. Drive slower and calmly. You gas mileage improves with more moderate speeds and with less quick stops and starts.

7. Ration gas. Give yourself a gas allowance for a week or pay period and stick to it. Remember the fewer miles you drive, the longer between oil changes, replacing tires and other maintenance that saves you even more money.

Gas prices may go up and down but you have some control over the amount of gas you use. We all have places our money might better be spent than burning it in the gas tank.


1 Response

  1. Great post. I try to think of driving in this way. When you drive, you are bargaining with gas companies, tire companies and car makers. Those companies are trying to get as much money as they can from you. They get a good deal when you drive fast. Your job, then, is to keep as much of it for yourself as you can. You keep money for yourself by driving slow and following the other good rules.

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