Welcome to 31 Days:The No Spend Month. If you are joining for the first time, you may want to start on Day 1.
As I mentioned on our update from Week 1, we are going to blow our goal of only spending $300 on gas this month. I shutter when I think how this guy only spends $300 per YEAR on gas.
We are 1/3 of the way through the month and both cars have about 1/2 tank of gas remaining. My husband threw a “I need to run out of town, again” ball. So that defeats any hope of saving our gas budget.
In the meantime, I am experimenting with these ideas to eek out every penny we can in our gas budget this month:
Reduce Drive Time
I feel like this needs to be my very first option: if we want to save gas – we need to drive less. We are in a unique situation because neither of us commute. We are mostly home all day with the exception of running kids around and errands.
We choose to put our kids in a school that requires us to drop off and pick up every day. We choose for them to be in sports. We need items such as groceries and personal care items. During warmer months, some of these can be accomplished on a bike and we want to go that route when it becomes available again. Until then, just being conscientious of our driving for essential purposes is one of the most important things we can do.
Gas Buddy is an app I have on my phone (available for Android, iPhone and Blackberry) or you can use it online. When I need gas, I open the app to find the least expensive gas nearby. I usually am able find gas about .10 cheaper than everywhere else, saving $2.50 per tank.
Fuel Discount Programs
Costco, Fred Meyer (Kroger), Safeway and other grocery stores have fuel discount programs for spending money on groceries. By using your store rewards card when you buying groceries, you accumulate points to get discounts on gas. Locally, I am able to get .10 off per gallon of gas at one of these stores. This store is already .05 cheaper than other stations so I am saving .15 per gallon, in total, or about $3.75 per tank.
I also hooked myself up with Fuel Rewards through Shell and got .25 off my first fill up, saving me $6.25.
I am no hypermiler but there are a few techniques that they use that I can take advantage of:
- turning off the car instead of idling – I am guilty of leaving the car on while waiting in the pickup line at school or while my husband runs in the store or other times when I don’t need to.
- windows at low speeds and A/C at high speeds – I am an A/C user. I never open the windows (but the sunroof) so I’ll be adding this to my arsenal of gas saving techniques next summer.
- using brakes properly – I am guilty of accelerating and decelerating quickly. Hypermilers claim that you can get 10-20% better gas mileage by keeping your car in motion, at a consistent speed and by taking your foot off the gas pedal when you don’t need it.
- avoid driving with a cold engine – Due to drop offs and pickups for school and sports, I am running out of my house and back about 15 times per week. Mr. Money Mustache says I’m effectively paying $8/gallon for those trips. Ouch. Next spring, I can eliminate several of those trips by riding bikes to and from school (right now it’s 40 degrees here at 8am). I’ve also started doing my errands right after I drop kids at school.
These are just some of the methods that apply to our family, here’s a great list of other ideas for yours, too.
By alternative, I don’t mean bikes, buses and skateboards. Although those are great choices, they are just not ones we can use this month. For us, alternative transportation is going to mean getting an alternative to our current vehicle, otherwise known as selling. This is, by far, the way we can save the most money on gas every month.
Our largest car, an SUV, gets 13 miles per gallon in the city. *GASP* I know. I love my monster truck (comfortable, lots of space, feels safe) but it’s time for it to go to a new home. In it’s place, we are looking at getting either a smaller, more fuel-efficient SUV or a sedan. We originally thought we might save $1200-$1500 per year but with more research, we estimate it will be closer to $1500-$2500 savings annually.
If I put that $150 saved each month into an account earning 6% interest, I might have $25,000 saved in 10 years – just from switching to a new car. Well, when you put it that way.
What kind of cars do you drive and have I convinced you (at all) to look for a more fuel-efficient car?