Mary Hunt: 10 painless ways to reduce gas costs
To save a gallon of gas, you need to cut about 22 miles of driving from your week. Here are 10 easy ways to do that:
1. Hop on the bus, Gus. Even if you think this is not an option for you, check out www.PublicTransport ation.org. You may be surprised that you do have options here. Or carpool. Sharing the ride and expense with another person on a regular basis can cut your gas costs in half. Check out carpooling opportunities at www.eRideShare.com and www.Car PoolConnect.com.
2. Take it easy. The faster you drive, the more gas you use. If your average commute includes 20 miles of highway time and you drive it at 60 mph instead of 70 mph, it will take you only three minutes longer to get there, and you'll save about 1.3 gallons of gas in a five-day work week.
3. Trip-chaining. Need to pick up a groceries, mail a package and go to the dry cleaner? Chain them together by doing all of them at one time. Park in a central spot and walk from place to place.
4. Shop online. Save the trips to the store, and consider other online services to minimize errands such as banking, buying stamps, grocery shopping and paying bills.
5. Check prices online. Websites like www.GasBuddy.com and www.FuelMeUp.com provide up-to-date prices for the gas stations in your state or region. Use these sites to compare prices, then plan your route for a gas stop at the station with the best prices. Do this for a month or two, and you'll begin to notice which station consistently offers lower prices.
6. Take a hike (or ride a bike). Instead of driving everywhere, lace up your sneakers and get some exercise while you save gas. A bicycle can help you rack up car-free miles even faster.
7. Fill up in early morning or late night. Most gas stations change prices during the day; if you go late at night or early in the morning, you're likely to get the prices before they're changed. Since price changes usually mean price increases, you want to get there before the sign changes.
8. Drive as if gas is being rationed. The time may come that you will be allowed only a set number of gallons per week no matter the cost, no matter your needs. Drive now as if you are on a 10-gallons-per-week limit. The practice will do you good. Then pray it doesn't come to that.
9. Share school rides. Instead of picking up your kids from school every day, organize a carpool with other moms, taking turns in dropping off and picking up.
10. Lighten up. The heavier the load that your engine has to haul around, the more gas it guzzles. Don't think of your trunk as long-term storage for anything, especially not heavy things like tools, garden supplies and sports equipment.
Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.