One Month & One Tank

>> 4.12.2011

It all started with one little dog eating a huge amount of pancakes. I was less than excited about the unexpected $140 vet bill I found myself paying and eager to cut back in other ways so that I wouldn't feel the higher credit card bill at the end of the billing period (the 15th). The idea to cut back on my gas usage came to me once I had to spend another $60 at the gas pump on the way home. As a 2-per-month person, if I could bring my driving down to one tank per month, I'd fight rising gas prices and save an additional $50-60 off of my normal budgeted expenses!

Now, I'm three days away from hitting my goal and I'm shocked at how easy it was to cut back by simply applying my thrifty thinking towards my driving. Here's what I've done to cut back:

1. I rode my bike to work (but not every day). Who knows, maybe I'll turn into a  regular bike commuter one day... but for this month I'll only need to commute 4/ 20 days to meet my one tank goal. I love that I get to multitask by exercising on my way to the office, but I'll admit that I'm often too rushed in the mornings to stretch my usual 10-minute commute into 35+.

2. I lucked out in having a short commute to work. I understand that a lot of people have to drive a certain number of miles per day and it really helps that I live close to work. On most weekdays, work was the only place I drove my car.

It wasn't until this month that I really did the math on how much a long commute can affect the gas budget. I imagined living far enough from work to spend an average of $200+ on gas for commuting alone... Knowing that for each additional $10,000 on a home price the monthly mortgage payments will go up by around $60, I realized that just living closer to work can add around $30,000 in buying power towards a home!

3. I mooched off of Nate's more efficient car. We've definitely decided to see the future cars as "our cars." One car will be more efficient and better for longer drives around town and the other will be slightly bigger for hauling a more people and/or materials for home improvement projects.

4. I planned my trips for the week like I plan my meals at the grocery store. Just as the goal with groceries is to buy no more food than what we're going to eat, the goal with gas is to drive no more than I need to for the week. At the beginning of the week or weekend, I'd think about the errands that I needed to run and planned my driving time in order to combine as many trips as I could. I was so proud last weekend when I noticed Nate was going to get his hair cut in the same shopping center as a store I had plans to go to later that day. I went ahead and rearranged my plans to head out and do my shopping with him. It was super easy and saved 1/2 off on gas!

How do you find ways to cut back on gas?


Jeannine @ Small and Chic April 12, 2011 at 12:22 PM  

Growing up, my mother always talked about how we lived where we did in part because we weren't totally reliant on a car. We could walk or ride our bikes everywhere. If the car was ever at the garage, we were totally fine.

When I lived in Boston, it seemed that the most expensive homes were the ones that were in the middle of the city (the same holds true in NYC). Wealth = access. I happily paid higher rent to live a block away from the T and down the street from my grocery store, bank, an pharmacy. I worked in the 'burbs, so I had to drive on my commute. Bummer.

When I moved to Charlottesville, I picked my condo because it was the mid point between work and shopping and on the main public transit line (all public transit is free to people who work at the University of Virginia). I couldn't really believe my place wasn't more expensive, but wealth here is generally considered to come with land and a massive house. I've happily left my car parked on weekdays. I only really drive on Saturdays or Sundays, when I run errands. It's been great!

I probably fill my gas tank up three times in two months (some Saturdays, I go on longer trips).

I actually consider driving a hassle now. Driving to work includes finding a parking spot or paying for a spot in a garage. It's such a pain! I'd much rather zip down Main Street on the trolley or walk when the weather is nice. :)

Kasey @ Thrifty Little Blog April 12, 2011 at 12:34 PM  

@Jeannine~ Texans love their space too! It's sad because I see traffic getting worse and worse while we're still not properly set up for car-free commuting :(.

It sounds like you have it made!

threeacres April 12, 2011 at 12:55 PM  

We have always tried to have the mix of two vehicles. We need a truck and use it all the time for remodeling, pulling the trailer, hauling our extra long kayaks, and for a sport we do. Our work locations are close but one or both of use would need to drive a little ways. So we bought a house 5 minutes away from my husbands work and I drive 25 minutes to work. I have the very fuel efficient little car we take everywhere and he has the truck.

Jenna Scott April 12, 2011 at 1:40 PM  

I'm so far from work and school that biking is not an option. I live on the very outskirts of Las Vegas, like almost on a mountain, and my school is 35 miles away, as well as my hubby's work. Our gas bills are about $100 a week for both cars. We moved so far because of location, it's hard to find new, nice, safe, property in Vegas!

Amanda April 12, 2011 at 2:09 PM  

Even though we can't quite call everything "ours" yet, Stan and I have been doing kind of the same thing as you and Nate with our cars. We drive my teeny (crappy) car all over for city driving since it gets 30+ mpg, and use his Subaru for Home Depot trips and when we have more people than the 2 of us. Also, I'm kind of a freak about driving mindfully- I coast to red lights, accelerate slowly, and kill the engine when I'm at a light that I know takes FOREVER. I really think driving that way helps a ton without costing you much time. We may even get rid of my car once we get married- still on the fence about that one.

I also try to bike to work as much as I can in the summer. It's difficult because I get sweaty and my makeup melts off, and have to change into my fancy work clothes when I get here, meaning I have to carry a big backpack with my purse, lunch, and clothes. It's just kinda annoying. But even though I'm only a 15-min drive from work, I end up saving a lot of gas when I bike! Plus the multitasking is great.

I'm sure as gas prices rise I'll definitely bike more!

Anonymous,  April 13, 2011 at 9:51 AM  

I don't have a car, I cycle to work a bout 30 minutes every day. I have bicycle bags on the back of my bike and a basket on front, this can hold my purse, gym bag and shopping when I do groceries. I barely even take the bus when the weather is bad, I really feel bad about spending on that when I can in fact cycle.

LizzieBeth April 13, 2011 at 10:09 AM  

You only get gas twice a month? I kind of hate your face right now.

Ok, not really. But I am super hating my 60 mile round trip to work. It takes me 40 minutes on the turnpike and a $2 toll each way.

Le sigh.


Carlos April 14, 2011 at 8:17 PM  

It's really wise to find other alternatives in order to save gas specially nowadays that the gasoline price is too high. I like your idea of dividing the days using your car and then a bike. You know, using a bike to go to work or to go any other places as long as it's not too far is a good alternative. Not only that you save gas. You also earn good exercise. Only though it won't work if your destination is too far.

What's really great about using your bike sometimes is that it's not only that you save gas but you also contribute to mother nature. The best part of it.

Planning ahead of your destination is also a good. It's a one way trip therefore you can save a lot of Gas. You wouldn't want to go back to somewhere because you forgot something a long your way. Planning is crucial.

Well, goodluck on your 1 gas goal and I'm sure that this article served as an eyeopener to other car owners.

"Vacuum Cleaners | canister vacuum"

KT @ KT's Refinishing School April 16, 2011 at 7:49 AM  

What a great idea! J and I buy about two tanks of gas a month too but with how close my workplace and his school is, we could probably start combining trips and/or riding bikes to and from. Now just to buy the bikes :)

Carole April 18, 2011 at 11:18 AM  

we moved closer to work, and that's saved us a bundle in gas. A 10 min walk to the edge of campus allows us to take a short (free) bus ride to the office.

We also traded in our nasty minivan for a more fuel efficient Mazda5. For 1 or 2 person trips, though, we still use our smaller car that gets 35mpg.

Jordan@the2seasons April 18, 2011 at 11:28 AM  

Good for you on this task. I am getting caught up on your post from being on vacation but just love this one. We were in Holland for 2 weeks and I love how everyone bikes everywhere in that country. We currently only have one car but now we are talking about biking to do our errands like the dutch. Plus if I am carrying our groceries on the bike I don't think I will buy as much. Hope you can keep this up for next month!

Amanda @ Tall Glass of Water April 19, 2011 at 9:41 PM  

Ugh. This is such a sour subject for me. I just moved an hour and a half away from my work. My work that use to take me 15 minutes to get to. I now have an 83 mile round trip drive and fill up my tank every 4 days. Usually a Thursday. *sigh* Yes, I am totally currently looking for a job closer to home cause the pay just ain't worth all that mess!

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