I’d like to say I’m careful about how much gas I use because of environmental concerns. That may have been true once upon a time. But if I am being brutally honest, today it’s primarily my wallet I’m concerned about.
Like everyone else I know, I’ll be heading to the beach this weekend, and I’m a little on edge about how much it’s going to cost me in gasoline.
I generally operate on a fairly set schedule, and I fill my tank every week on the same day at about the same time. (Thursday, if you’re interested, because my gas station is 5 cents cheaper that day.) This made it pretty easy to track my spending and to budget for gas. Most weeks I paid $20. Sometimes we’d visit family, fairly close by, but that extra trip would tack an extra dollar or two on the total. I hated when I’d go over $25.
I started to aim for under $20 dollars- if I had to go somewhere not in my usual routine, I would strategically plan my errands for the rest of the week to compensate, by shaving off miles wherever possible. I loved that moment of triumph when the pump would stop at $18.
The little victories in life.
Sadly, gas prices kept rising. No matter how much I pulled back consumption, the price went up and my cost was essentially the same. And now, prices have shot up enough that coming in under $20 just isn’t going to happen- I’ve had to mentally adjust to $25 as my goal. The same number that two months ago I saw as extravagant.
Ugh, and now the drive to the beach. I’m happy to be going, but I’m trying to think- What’s the best way to conserve gas here? How can I prevent a small heart attack at the pump next Thursday? (Actually, sigh, it’s highly unlikely I’ll even make it to Thursday.)
- Check the tires before we go.
- Pack as efficiently as possible to reduce weight.
- Leave at the crack of dawn to avoid idling in traffic.
- Lecture husband on ways to drive efficiently (he won’t be in a car I’m driving). I think this is going to be a hard sell. But I’ll still remind him, in a pleasant and rational manner, to:
- Do the speed limit. Apparently the posted limit is 55 for a reason! Generally speaking, you spend an estimated 20 cents extra per gallon for every 5 mph over 60. Or, to frame it another way, you lessen your fuel economy by 17% when you drive 70 instead of 55. Not to mention, a speeding ticket is an expensive souvenir.
- Don’t drive like a jerk. No need to speed up behind somebody, slam on the brakes, then zoom out from behind them to pass. Not only is this bad karma, it can decrease your highway gas mileage by 33%.
- Use cruise control. He does this anyway. I’m adding that for your benefit.
Quick Plan for Fuel Conservation:
In addition, we’ll scout out the best on-the-way gas prices for the inevitable refill on the way home. Last I checked, Jersey gas prices were a good bit cheaper than Delaware’s, thank the gods, because the gas station nearest to my house hit $3.95 yesterday.
And while I’m thinking about it, I’ll head over to TerraPass and see how much it would cost to offset my car’s carbon emissions for the year. I’ve been sitting on some gift certificates I earned by recycling my family’s old cell phones, time to cash those babies in.
Want more tips?
Here’s the top 15 ways to save on gas.
Use GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas near you.
And for goodness sake, put on some sunscreen! It’s for your own good!