Gas prices have fallen lately but they’re still a significant cause of budget distress for those of us with poor mileage gas guzzlers. I’m a case in point, on the negative side I only average about 15 miles to the gallon but, on the plus side, my older SUV is paid for and my car insurance costs are negligible. That doesn’t mean that I don’t cringe every time I filler’ up! And, of course, the more miles you pile on the more things wear out and break down so, over time, the low and no costs on one side of the equation are being eroded by higher maintenance costs and fuel prices.
Tips to Save a Tankful On Gasoline
To save money and cringes, here are a few strategies to spend less on fuel for your car or truck…
- Maintain the beast. Clean air filters, regular tuneups and properly aligned and inflated tires can save 20% or more on gas consumption.
- Slow down. Avoiding jack rabbit starts and driving 65 instead of 70 mph can save you 7-10% at the pump.
- Drive less. Why are French women skinny (according to a recent best seller)? Because they walk. So walk, ride your bike or take public transit. As an example, when I commute by light rail to my downtown office, it costs me $4 in fares but I come out about $8 ahead when I factor in savings from fuel and parking. So taking the train only 3 days a week will save me about $1200 annually. Not bad plus I can relax, read or get a head start on the day’s email by letting someone else do the driving.
- Shop smarter. A lot of our shopping these days can be done online. Not only can we save the time, fuel and aggravation of multiple shopping trips but we can often realize better savings on the stuff we buy by a little prudent googling. Also, consider the price of the trip, not just the price of the item the next time you shop. My favorite wine store generally has prices $1-2 below my neighborhood store. But, it takes me 15 minutes longer to get there and what I save on that tasty little chardonnay turns into a loss when I calculate the fuel used to acquire it. Hmmm. Plus, my neighborhood store is within walking distance so I save even more when I think ‘globally’.
- Buy Mileage. Not the airline kind, the car kind. When it does come time to trade in, be sure and trade up, way up, in fuel efficiency. So may cars these days deliver mileage figures of around 40 mpg that it’s foolish not to make fuel consumption a top priority.Here’s how the math works for me. I drive about 12,000 miles a year. At 15 mpg, and fuel at $3.30 a gallon this works out to an annual expense of $2640. With gas mileage of 30 miles per gallon, I save $1320 and, at 40 mpg, my savings leap to $1650. And, of course, these savings grow as gas prices rise, which they inevitably will.
What’s Your Fuel Savvy Strategy?
Hopefully these tips on saving on gas will add thickness to your wallet. Why don’t you share your favorite tips on saving on fuel costs in the comments?