Economic Changes: Gasoline

As the cost per barrel of petroleum rises, not only is heating fuel on the rise, but it’s sister, gasoline, is also on the up. In a matter of days, everywhere will see regular grade gasoline hit a record high of $4.00 a gallon, if not there already. Here, we only have three cents to go, and that could very well change today. Stuck in our routines, most of us know about how much it should cost us a week to fuel our vehicles. That is, until the prices start changing. Now the $20 that use to fuel us all week is only lasting a few days. Now we’re pumping $30 or more into our tank every week, and that could quickly change as well. With a tight budget, and plenty of other rising cost concerns, we all need to figure out a way to reduce our gasoline consumption.

With a budget to be concerned about, you cannot go out and purchase a new vehicle that is more fuel efficient than the one you currently have. If you live in a rural area, you probably wont be able to find and use public transportation. And if you really live far out there, in what some of us call the “boonies”, you probably wont try to bike to work. So, what can you do to reduce your cost and dependence when none of the conventional “tips” seem to be plausible? I’m finding it to be a lot harder than I thought, but I’ve found that every little ounce of energy saved does make a big difference.

I’m caught in a rural setting where location and my stubbornness compound the problem. There is no public transportation available for me or my husband. Lucky for us, neither of us live more than 15 minutes away from where we work. However, carpooling is not an option available for either of us. And the typical answer of biking to work, or using “alternative transportation” wont work- my husband it too lazy and stubborn to ever consider it and it would prove to be dangerous for me. Every time I meet a biker on the bicycle lane-less River Road route to work, it’s usually on one of the many sharp corners and it proves to be a very hairy experience. So reduction of gasoline in work transportation is not possible. We needed to find other corners to cut.

So we accepted our inability to reduce work travel. Instead, we have worked to reduce the amount of “other” driving we do. Store runs, shopping, errands, and joy rides, all have been altered. And although our changes are small, we have noticed that they have a big impact on our wallets.

Five Small Gasoline Changes with Big Budget Savings

1. Combine errand and shopping trips. Do you need to bring bottles back, do groceries, laundry, and all kinds of errands around town? Why not wait a day and consolidate it all into one or only a few trips? Instead of driving to and from your home six times, make it three. Get as much done as you can in as few trips as possible.

2. Reduce the amount of joy rides and quick trips.Similar to above, reduce the amount of quick trips you make. If you feel like something special from the convenient store or maybe a last minute urge for a movie, either try to fight it or walk there if you can. Not only will you save gas by not going, but you’ll also keep a few extra bucks in your pocket! And as for joy rides, those have kind of left the picture. Once in awhile we would go for a drive to explore new back roads or towns, and now it seems kind of foolish for us to waste the gas. They still happen, but now they are few and far between.

3. Think about walking if you can. Let’s face it, most of us Americans are lazy and favor convenience over effort, myself included. From my apartment, the Post Office, local bakery, and general store are all within walking distance, and let me tell you, there have been plenty of times that I’ve jumped into my car and drove a quarter of a mile down the road just to get my mail- it’s convenient and lazy! But now with the price of gas up, a short and easy walk with a reusable canvas bag has pretty much become the norm. It’s healthier for everyone: you, the environment, and your wallet!

4. Use your most fuel efficient vehicle.If you are living with a significant other or roommate, you may have the option of more than one vehicle. If you do, and you both need to go somewhere together, why not choose the vehicle that is best with fuel efficiency? My husband has an old “put-put” pickup and I have a small car, and we’ve noticed that although I drive twice as far to work and we use the car for most of our errands, we still gas up at about the same time. Conclusion? My car is much better on gas consumption than his truck, and a lot cheaper to fill up!

5. Consider changing your entertainment.We all love to go out and spend money for entertainment. Our weakness is driving 35 minutes to Rutland in order to do some light shopping and the whole dinner and a movie thing. It use to be something we’d do every other week if we could. Not anymore! The habit has slowly subsided and now it’s something we do once a month, if not once every two months if we can. Do we miss it? Yeah, a little, but we’ve found plenty else to do instead- most of it a lot more beneficial to getting chores done around the apartment. We also really love the convenience of services like Netflix. Instead of driving to go see a movie, or even just to the nearest video store, we can order them from our computer and have them arrive in the mail. No extra cost of fuel for us needed! Figure out something new you can do to limit your typical entertainment fuel consumption if you can.

So there you have it, five small changes that although require a little more effort, are worth your time. By themselves they may seem trivial, but one saved trip here and there really to add up to a pretty substantial savings. However, my one disclaimer is this: although we’ve made these changes and have noticed a reduction in fuel consumption, with the cost of gasoline rising everyday, the amount that we spend on fuel is still increasing. If I could cut out more of the time I spend in my car, I would. Any other sensible tips and solutions are welcome here.

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