From: Natalie T.
Hey, gas prices here in the west are way, way up so I thought I would share how we are coping.
People complain (including me before I decided to take action) that it takes “so much money” to get gas and fill up the tank. Who says you have to get a full tank? Who says you can’t budget for it just like groceries? I’ve decided that we can only spend $40 every two weeks on gas for my minivan (coincides with my husband’s paycheck, I’m a SAHM), and my job is to make that gas last just like I make milk last by only giving “appropriate” serving sizes.
So to make that 12 or so gallons of gas last two weeks, I do as much as possible on one day with a well planned out route, and try to avoid driving for non-critical things. Grocery, pharmacy and grandparent visits are on the “go” list when they are together and well planned. Pizza and driving to pick one up is on the “no” list. (Not only did we not pay for a pizza, we also didn’t waste 1/3 gallon of gas to pick it up).
Once I applied the grocery principle to filling up the car, our vehicle gas expenses have been budgetable and predictable.
Thank you Natalie. We need to use this principle with everything we buy. Part of our problem has been that we have a generation who were given credit cards and loans freely but weren’t mature enough to use them wisely.
It was like taking a kid to a toy shop and saying, “Here, use this card and you can buy what you want. When it gets filled you can get another.” Can you imagine what a kid with free rein in a toy store would be like?
I was always taught to use what I had carefully. You didn’t make a trip to the store to buy one item. Even if you needed milk you made do without it because it saved on gas.
People just fill up their cars, buy homes, buy cars, clothes and TVs with out giving it too much thought. They consider gas a necessity, which it is for some, but like many necessities you have to control them and budget them, not just buy them without thinking because you can use a credit card.
Food is a necessity but that doesn’t mean you should spend it on gallons of the most expensive ice cream, chips, pop or, as you mentioned, pizza. You need to give yourself a certain amount of money to use for food. If you happen to have some left over, you can buy a treat. If you run out, you may have to find ways to make it stretch better.
Thanks for a really good tip!
Photo By: futureatlas.com
I know what you mean about the gas prices….3.21 for the cheap stuff :p here in oregon. That is crazy but we moved closer to DH’s work so it is only a mile away and if i have to go to the grocery store i make sure that i do other arrends along with it. I am a SAHM too so every penny counts. Kids school is close enough to walk there(not always nice weather though) but it is better then driving a long distance just to go around all the apartment buildings. It is just a matter of reworking how we think about things.
My husband and i have a ’96 Dodge Caravan and a ’99 VW Bug. The Bug gets better gas mileage than the van, tho the van isn’t too bad. Hubby works, i’m home. He has a 28-mile round trip daily. The only place i usually go during the week is the gym, two days, 16-mile round trip. So hubby uses the Bug almost exclusively (and takes a lot of ribbing at work about his “chick car”! It’s mine, bright yellow, flowers in the vase and a bobble-head kitty on the dash).
If we both need vehicles on the same day, we calculate who will be driving farther, and that one gets the Bug. We also determine whether the trip is necessary, and try to cram as many errands into it as possible.
We aren’t doing it yet, but i like the idea of budgeting for gas as you would for groceries… good thinking!
awesome idea… and well i wish it would work for me as well but unfortunately it wont… i deliver newspapers 7 days a week and well, even tho i am able to keep my gas allowance at $40 for my job and my errands i am hoping to either get a raise (which i know we wont) or find a job closer to wear i live, along with a cheaper place to live…
maybe even live close to the bus lines and get a job where i can take the bus back and forth to work… and only use the car for the weekly shopping…
hopefully the gas prices wont get too outrageous…
Your ideas are to be admired. We all bring to situations of frugal living the ideas that work best for our personal situations.
Considering my efforts as I read other inputs on gas savings, I have started COASTING.
When I know the road has a downward hill ahead, I don’t apply much gas to get the car going. I stay on idle for as long as I can constantly watching my rearview mirror as not to obstruct traffic and disturb the driver behind me. (Understand that in my area of CA, we live at the base of the Sierras and have many hills.) Eventually and most of the time QUICKLY, the car picks up speed and races above speed limit and I have to apply the brakes as not to go above the speed limit. Many times, I have drivers beside me accelerate past me only to meet me at the bottom of the hill at the same time. (They gave gas at the top of the hill….I didn’t}
When I see a red light in the distance, I take my foot off the accelerator and coast. Funny, your car doesn’t slow quickly and usually needs the extra time to stop. No speedy brake stops and no extra gas needed.
I start slowly and gradually get my car up to a maintenance speed in all situations either in the city or on the highway.
I have a function on my car that measures “miles per gallon.” When I started being more conservative with my stops and starts and using the gravity of my car to my advantage, I literally saw my MILES per GALLON measurement on my vehicle increase an extra 3 miles per gallon!
Sometimes that extra mileage per gallon gives me an extra 1/2 week in my tank before needing to fill up. And yes, I also subscribe to the ideas that a trip in the car needs to accomplish more than 1 task! I love the analogy mentioned that gives milk and gas the same useable consistency. It’s all in the way we look at making our lives profit with what we have!
Robin in CA
i know what you mean — i am also a SAHM and have to save on gas as it is $3.25 right now. my solution is that my hubby usually gets off work about 4 or 5 (he doesn’t have a set time as he is a salesman)so he does the little extra errands since he is already out at town. — mommasunflower —
ps.. we do stay home on weekends ALOT more then we used to also. which saves 2 ways — 1 on gas and 2 on the money we would blow just being out
other ways to save on gas is to make sure your car is tuned up. air filter is a big problem apparently.
check your tire pressure this not only saves on gas it saves the tires.
I don’t drive but we have 2 vehicles. a big safari van and a sun fire car.
The car is to go to work in and my husband has 2 riders who ride with him every day. He makes enough money from them to put gas in the car.
One thing we did last year was get a credit card for the grocery store. When you use the card to buy gas you get double the points you would if you use cash or visa. It is now 9 cents for every litre that you get a slip for to use at the grocery store check out. What is really good about this is it is good at the big grocery store in the city so we have about $7 extra when we shop there and another $7 for the home store. Not much but it makes buying gas at $1.20 a bit easier to swallow.
The van sits except for weekends when we are out and about doing errands and fun stuff. The car is really hard on me so we bite the bullet and pay the gas.
Keep the vehicle as empty as possible. Don’t keep lots of stuff in the trunk as the weight adds to gas consumption.
I fill up my car at Kroger. I have the Kroger Plus card and for every $50 I spend in groceries (or prescriptions) at Kroger, I save $0.20/gallon on one fill-up. Also, our Kroger is usually $0.03/gallon cheaper than other local gas stations to begin with.
A lot of people I know will argue with me that they can’t afford to buy groceries at Kroger, have to shop at Walmart and can’t take advantage of the Kroger Plus fuel discounts. I actually come out ahead by shopping at Kroger. Yes, their shelf prices are higher than Walmart. I never pay shelf prices though. I watch Kroger’s sales. They have sales cycles and when things are on sale, I buy enough to last until that sales comes back in the next 3 – 4 weeks. It took me maybe 1 – 2 weeks of spending about $100 more on groceries to get started. Now I am within my budget every week…sometimes under. We prefer Kroger milk and meat and always get that cheaper than Walmart. I love looking at the Manager’s Specials at Kroger. Sometimes I come away with fantastic deals. I’m not a coupon queen by any means but do use coupons that apply to me. I save a lot on personal care items by buying Kroger sales with double coupons. I am not picky about what brand of shampoo or deodorant I use. I take advantage of what is on sale and I have a coupon for and get lots of free items this way. I laugh when others tell me they can’t afford to shop at Kroger. :-)
Guess my gas tip turned into a grocery tip too…oh, well. LOL!
One thing I do is buy giftt cards to Walmart at Kroger to get the double (sometimes 4x!) the fuel points. You’re going to be shopping at Walmart anyway, so it isn’t anything extra out of your pocket.
Saturday was our date night at the movies, so we went to Fry’s (Kroger) and purchased a $25 gift card for AMC theaters. That was our admission & popcorn and I still have $3 left on the card….but it was a day that they had 4x the points, so we got 100 points!
A friend of mine buys the prepaid Visa cards when the points are quadrupled & then buys his groceries at Fry’s, using that card, therefore getting more points. I think he said that the points rewards outweighs the $2. charge for activating the card, but I would have to check more into that.
We are retired. So watching the pennies is part of daily life. One thing we did is downsize to one vehicle for regular use,( we also have an old 1969 International for trips into the bush and forests around us. Dear heart is able to do all the repaairs and maintenance on this and it is a low fuel user as we never go high speeds with it, we do this rather than fancy holidays. The costs for this are way less than for a new bush vehicle.) Dh does the maintence for the newer everyday vheicle too, and that with good driving habits saves us gas.
I shop with one of my friends, and we plan our trip out to do all our sidetrips as well. That means pencil and paper ( we make a list of what each of us has to do and then re-alighn so that we pass each area only once.) We usually go on a Tuesday as everything is open, but if one of us has a Dr’s appointment or something like that we go that day instead. We start Friday evening planning our trip, each in our own home, that’s when I start my lists, grocery and keep adding as we go , also listing specials we want to buy. then finnaly making the route list.
This saves us a lot of money! One time I take my vehicle and the next we take hers. Dh seldom drives his vehicle alone either. He has friends and always when we head in the bush there are 2 in the old vehicle.
Oh, and I had to laugh at pizza being a luxury, here pizza is another way to use up leftovers on a home made crust!
Okay you have my curiosity up Pay do you live in Australia or some place like that. I got tickled when you said you go into the bush. Here in Kansas when we go into the bush it is that green plant growing by our front door. HA!HA! If you are from Australia I love it.
Thanks for the good tip. Tawra and I did this when we lived in Idaho. It is amazing how much you can cut down on needless running around or consolidate things when you have to drive a ways to get to town. That was one thing we learned when we lived there was people did car pool a lot or if you needed one item you would ask someone going into town to pick it up for you.
Hi, just read about this site in the book “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half” by Steve and Annette Economides.
Does anyone check www.gasbuddy.com to check for the cheapest gas in their area? Just type in your zip code or city and gas prices and station info is listed.
I joined my local site and check every time for cheapest gas before I buy. It’s optional, but you can post local gas prices, get points for doing that, and use points to enter a weekly drawing for a $250 gas card.
Lots of other features at the site – since 1/1/11 I’m logging all gas purchases so I can track how much I’m spending on gas ($3.45 a gallon here now in No. California – yikes). Helps remind me to combine trips and drive only when necessary.
Wish I could coast hills, but here in Florida it is flat! I’m really guilty of running to the store for one or two things, because I live within a mile of so many. Gas and milk just seem to go up and up. I mix the milk with dry milk to stretch a gallon. nothing that I know of we can add to gas to stretch it further!
its funny .. this post was first put up 2 yrs ago (almost 2 yrs) and well the gas prices are still the same then as it is now ..
excellent ideas posted here.. car pooling, running errands with friends/family and sharing the cost of the gas (by taking one car one time and the other person’s car the next time) …
taking the bus or getting a job close to where u live .. (my brother used to do that and well, he would ride his bike to work and the car was used only when they went shopping or church) ..
@ Angie: What state do you live in? I have to buy $100 @ Kroger to get a savings of 10 cents/gallon. What you’re getting would quadruple my savings!
how do u do that rachel? just curious .. 1/2 gal of reg milk to a 1/2 gal of the powdered milk ? ..
I’m in Ohio. That’s rotten about your Kroger. Where are you at?
Rose, yes that it about how I do it. I keep powdered milk on hand. When my 2% gallon is about half empty I mix up 8 cups of powdered, pour it in and shake. My husband and son never say anything. I drink soy milk because it helps my allergies.
Another way to stretch milk is to buy whole milk. Keep one empty milk jug clean and on hand. Pour half of the whole milk into the empty jug and add water to each jug to make it full. This has the calories and approximately the taste of 2% milk. If your family balks, try adding 1/4 water and then 1/3. If they are already used to 2%, they likely won’t even notice.
a great way to know how much it cost for a trip in the car is to use mapquest and click on estimated fuel cost. I was blown away by how much certain trips I make cost!
Dana great idea. For those of you who can’t use mapquest there is an easy formula. A round trip to Colorado for me is 1000 miles. I get 20 miles to a gallon. Let’s say gas is $3.00 (I wish).
1000 divided by 20= 50 times 3 = $150
My husband and I live in So Cal, and gas prices were insane during the winter. While we were on vacation in Idaho, we were amazed that it was nearing payday, and we still had $200 left in our savings account. How awesome! We quickly realized that we changed our driving habits while in Idaho, so when we got back we still applied what we learned. We live on base, and it’s a headache to leave and come back so we just stay on base, unless we absolutely had to leave, plus it takes about 15 mins to get anywhere so we stay at home. We’ve budgeted for gas since last year ($120 per payday) then this winter we added a second vehicle. My SUV gets better mileage than my husbands truck, so we drive my car if we have errands to run. His truck is to stay at home until the week, when he drives to work. I’ve planned every meal by making nearly the same thing every week. It’s saved over $250 on our groceries, which has allowed us to put that money in a different savings account, or towards gas. I love how driving less means spending less money, which gives us more money to save up to go to Idaho or camping more often. :D
We found out the same thing when we lived in Idaho. I was filling my car up every other week but did so much driving the few weeks I spent moving Tawra I decided I wasn’t going to leave the house for anything for awhile. Well I have only gone out a couple of times and in 1 month I have only used 1/4 tank of gas. It does make a difference plus I am not at places where I would be tempted to spend so you are soooo right.
It is Feb 2013 as I am writing this. I noticed that the gas station on my way home from work upped their price for reg gas from $3.45 to $3.59 in one day. I purchase my gas at the Safeway gas station because I get 10 cents off for every $100 I spend at the grocery. My son and I both use the same Safeway card so I get the benefit of his purchases, too. There is only one gas station close to me and my son just does not go near here. So, I am the lucky one to use this credit. I buy gas every payday – every 2 weeks and allocate $50 each time. Whatever is left over, I put in my fund for the farmers market. If I work from home even one day in the two week period, I usually only spend about $35 for gas. So, it saves me $15. I budget $50 because sometimes gas has been higher or I have to do more traveling for errands/doctor appts so have planned the extra money in my budget.
On Saturdays, I pick up my friend and we go to the farmers’ market together. Because I drive there (and sometimes we stop at Trader Joe’s on the way home), she makes us a coffee and we have a short visit with a pastry and coffee. Then it’s off to the library and any local errands and then to the regular grocery. Once I am home, I am in for the weekend. I try to include all my errands while I am out on Saturday morning which saves gas. I have not been stopping and shopping on the way home from work either, so am saving money by not hitting the Safeway more than once a week. If we don’t have it at home, we make do until the next shopping trip on Saturday. I am getting good at planning and getting what we need to hold us through the week. Also, most odd weeks (not a payday week), I am able to pick up bread, milk and lunch meat and not have to do a big shop. Again, we are eating from the freezer and the fresh things I get at the farmers market and saving money at the grocery. It is so easy to get unnecessary things at the grocery store that I find the less often I am there, the better.
Guess my post also went into other ways to save but these are things that work for me and might work for someone else.
When I start out from a stop, I watch my RPM’s on the tachometer and keep it at 2 or under. I may start out slow at lights (about the speed of a large truck), but I can keep it at that RPM when I am up to speed. I also coast when I can. I was tickled to see that I am not the only one who does that. I also have a function that measures miles per gallon and I gained 2 – 3 miles per gallon more when I started doing this.
I am so thankful for this website. So many good ideas to try and manage my money better. Thank you all. I feel like part of a family.
We budget for gas, too, but with a credit card. We fill up when it’s at 1/4 of a tank at the cheapest place,pay by credit card using only one card, and pay the bill each month. We know about how much we’ll spend and budget accordingly. My husband wanted us to have no excuse to run out of gas, and I don’t carry much cash. Having several kids, I never wanted to leave them to pay inside or carry them all inside with me. So I only use the ones that accept a credit card. I do think the budgeting a certain amount each time is a great idea, though. Thanks for the tips.
Another Gas Saving tip I read once: Plan your errand route so that you ONLY MAKE RIGHT TURNS…saves gas because you don’t waste gas waiting for traffic to go straight thru before you are able to turn left! We also are feeling the gas pain in Upstate NY..currently 3.89 per gallon. Some chain grocery stores and warehouses here either allow you to earn points towards .10 cent increments off gas or just sell gas at below average prices.
We live out in the country here in Colorado. Right now we are 18.1 miles to the fueling station. And my hubby drives almost 100 miles a day to and from work. Talk about budgeting!!! But we have found some great ways to save money too. We go shopping once every month and we always have a list. If it’s not on the list, we don’t buy it! We also only eat out once every month and that’s on our shopping day. We drive about 400 miles total on our shopping day, which I know sounds like a lot, but it actually saves us a TON of money. We buy very little pre-made food, normally only soup for various recipes. I do most of the cooking, which I will admit can become boring at times, but I never make the same thing twice in a 2 week period. We always pre-plan for special occasions and shop extra accordingly. We have a 10 year old daughter whom we home school now. I was driving 78 miles a day just to get her to and from school!!! AHHHH!!!! I learned how to make home-made laundry soap and cleaner here and that has also helped. I’m always open for more ideas, so I’m on here quite frequently!!!
A few simple things you can do to increase gas mileage:
Check tire pressure weekly. low tires cost big dollars. Get you car aligned. Check and clean your air filter. Use synthetic blended oil. it cost more but increases oil life and fewer changes and increases mileage.
Learn to drive with a egg on the gas pedal, jack rabbit starts cost big as well. Pull away from the controlled stop by pushing gently on the foot feed.
Only use the defroster when you have to, the AC turns on with the defroster and leaving it on cost big mileage. Lastly and I only do this once the auto maker warranty has expired but install a computer chip that leans out the engine when power isn’t needed but will allow full throttle power when you are in the passing mode. On shopping days we plan the route to and from each point and select the best route that will get the most done, it saves time as well.
No one seems to mention it, but it´s just basic: declutter your car. You can save that much by just letting go of the weight you unneccesarily tow with you.
Lots of great ideas on here. I worked Home Health and you could not back track nor waste gas or miles because they reviwed it. I learned long ago to use a composition book to list what needs done and when, and each stop was done based on saving miles and getting it done. I numbered the stops sometimes up to 10 stops. I simply glanced to see where and when next. This served me well as for many years I had only one day a week to get all shopping, oil changes, appointments etc done. My car ended up low mileage, very little gas bought through when it was highest. This works well, Heidi, and will save lots on everything. Good good advice