[A]fter stripping away the excess and learning to embrace simple living, our family has successfully converted a super small suburban backyard into a year-round food producing machine — complete with raised beds, fruit trees, an edible landscape, and chickens. We have now begun to shift our focus toward energy elements and we’re learning to combat higher utility costs. The natural next step seems to be looking for alternatives to the rising prices of transportation and gasoline.
With gas prices hitting an all-time high — for the month of February — and forecasts predicting $4-$5 per gallon petrol by summer, it’s time to seriously reconsider the way we do things.
Tips to Help You Save Money at the Pump
Everyone will feel the impact of increased fuel costs. So how then can we learn to stretch each and every tank of gas?
Consider these money-saving tips:
- Use the car less. That’s it…I’ve said enough 🙂 No seriously, I feel like I could just stop right here. When I think about how much I used to drive 2-3 years ago compared to now, wow! There are very few “I need to run out for something” trips and
we’veI’ve learned how to be content saying home. This is truly the only sustainable option.
- Start batching errands. When there are errands to run, try combining multiple stops into one trip. You could also plan your route in advance thereby driving the fewest miles possible. In my current home, the nearest grocery store, gas station, and bank are 10 minutes out. I could spend a lot of time and money driving back and forth, but instead every time I think of something I need I write it down and wait — it helps with impulse buys too!
- Become a one car family. Sell that extra car or two and become a one car family. There’s no better way to reduce the temptation of using the car when you don’t have one to use. It may take extra planning, but why not sit down as a couple and discuss the possibility of only owning one car?
- Walk. Walking to the store and walking to work just isn’t an option for many Americans. The way our cities are laid out and with the urban and suburban sprawl…walking everywhere simply is not functional for everyone. But I’ll tell you what we love to do…when we plan vacations, every one of our favorite spots is a park and walk destination. Every chance we have to park the car and walk, we take.
- Ride a bike. Just like walking, riding a bike everywhere isn’t functional for everyone — but if you live in an urban area, do it! A few times I’ve made the 14 mile round trip trek to the store — complete with baby trailer and all. It sure makes staying home and batching errands look pretty good!
- Ride-share and carpool. We often hear about this related to the work setting, but my biggest concern as a mother of active children is finding ways to save while driving them to and from all the places they want to be. I’m so thankful for my family and friends who are willing to take turns driving the children to and from sports activities, church functions, and sleep-overs. Sometimes all you have to do is ask! I’m finding that other Moms are way more open to the idea now than they were before. Take a chance and see about starting a carpooling co-op.
- Plan a stay-cation. We have made to commitment to pay off all of our debt this year, so I see the rising gas prices as a sign that we need to forgo our multiple, money guzzling out-of-town trips and put all that cash toward financial freedom instead. That doesn’t mean that we won’t take a vacation or deny our values as a family…but I’ve realized in our efforts to experience areas far from home, that we’ve missed out on some pretty cool places right where we are!
- Work from home. Just think of all the money you would save if you worked from home — not only would you save on gasoline, but so many other areas of spending would be effected and reduced. Ask your employer about working from home options or possibly consolidating the work week into 4 days instead of 5. You could also look into starting a home-based business, doing what you love.
- Make your own biodiesel. Did you know that making your own biodiesel is something that has been talked about and done for years, yet it only seems to get attention when gas prices rise 🙂 Just do a simple Internet search for “homemade biodiesel” and you’ll uncover artilces giving step-by-step instructions and YouTube videos like this one. There are reputable online supply stores and even local biodiesel co-ops popping up all over the place. By no means am I suggesting that biodiesel is the answer to our dependence on foreign oil…in fact I see it only as a band-aid. But…it is most definitely a viable option.
- Our four-legged friends. Now you might start to think that I’m really crazy 🙂 But for those of us living in rural areas, our four-legged friends could help us out a lot…just sayin’! I never really considered this option until last summer when we purchased a tract of land in western Wisconsin and we had the opportunity to meet one of our neighbors. He’s an older gentleman and during the course of his nearly 80 years that sweet man has never had his drivers license or owned a car! He’s relied solely on his self-sufficient lifestyle, car-pooling with neighbors, and his horse in order to meet all of his needs. Extreme? Sure! Possible? You betcha! Desperate times call for desperate measures 🙂
So what about you? What do you do to save money on gasoline?
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I agree with your bundle errands trip. I’ve been bundling errands for years. Makes no sense to save $3 on litter at one store, if the round trip takes 2 gallons of gas. So i go to pet store , library, visit a shut in, and stop by Good Will, all within a few miles of each other, but many miles from my home.
Being a one car family has been one of the most freeing experiences. I became a stay at home mom when my daughter was born last June, so my husband takes the car on most days. it fosters my creativity in entertaining my baby locally. It also makes days when we have the car special. I know not everyone’s lifestyle allows for it, but it sure is nice to only fill one tank of gas every two weeks.
Ann @ Suburban Prairie Homemaker says
We are blessed to live close enough to our downtown area that we can walk to most of the places we frequently go, like our local library, coffee shop, garden store and quilt shop. We also bundle errands when possible – it sometimes makes for a long day, but it is so worth it. Buying from stores in bulk can save trips to the store, too.
I love the story about the gentleman and his horse – what a wonderful lesson!
Be careful making your own biodiesel! A friend of ours had an explosion and was badly burned.
we live just 5 mlies from town & 30 miles from the city..
we have always been good stewards of our money & combined trips & all.
but this gas hike is far above what a normal family can get by ..
for those that live in cities that can walk , great. .
but for those of us that farm the land & feed the country , we are going to suffer the most.
perhaps more small business will open & we won’t have to drive the 30 miles or 60 miles to buy supplies .
Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents says
I love stay-cations! 🙂 I’d rather have one of those than go somewhere. I think I’ll have a stay-cation next week.
You may have left these out simply becuase they are commonly known: Make sure that when you DO drive(the idea is not to. lol.) that your tires are properly filled/rotated as needed, you get regular oil changes and don’t forget changing out the air flter! Try to coast up to stoplights, avoid abrupt stops and don’t haul around unnecessary weight(ie-things) in your vehicle if possible. I have an SUV(i know…) that allows me to remove the back seats(extra weight!) and now I only put them back in when needed. All of these things can save a little gas here and there. At about $4 a gallon here in Indiana- Every little bit helps- small anounts add up to big things!
I agree with you and the article….any way to cut down on petrol/gas costs is a good measure. But $4/gallon ain’t bad from Australia’s point of view….a US gallon is about 3.8 litres and $4/gallon is around $1/litre US(about $1.10 Australian), for almost the last 18 months here in Australia we have payed an average of $1.55/litre(Aust.). Taking into account the exhange rate, $1.55/litre is around $6/gallon US where you are in Indiana. I only mentioned this out of interest, as I always thought with the US importing most of it’s oil from other countries, that petrol/gas prices would be higher……
Our goal is to pay off our debt this year too. We havent vacationed in several years, and wont this year. We are looking to buy some land in the country next year. As far as gas, my hubby travels with his work, so I have to have a car. We have no public transport here and walking/biking isnt an option. I will try to save other ways though. Thanks for the great blog.
Katy @ Purposely Frugal says
Thanks for these great ideas! You can also:
1. Go to gasbuddy.com and see where the cheapest gas prices in your area are.
2. Driving slower and accelerating slower can help your gas mileage.
3. Driving smaller vehicles. A moped uses very little gas!
Kate S. says
I was smiling and nodding as I read along–we do all of these (except make our own biodiesel, that is)! We’re down to one car (for two years now), which we meticulously maintain (it’s a ’95 Camry and it gets better gas mileage today than many compact cars coming off the assemly line right now). My husband drives to work, but I bike or walk anywhere I need to go without him. He’s a hyper-miling fanatic and uses fuelly.com to track our car’s mpg. We only go “out” to stores or restaurants once every two weeks and batch all of our errands that day—we’ve become proficient at making action plans for our shopping trips and detailed lists so we don’t forget anything we might need. Perhaps best of all, we’ve had conversations with our neighbors about our endeavor to live with only one car and it’s got some of them thinking they could do it, too. In a rural, redneck region of Illinois, that’s really saying a lot!
Last summer I bought a scooter which gets about 100 miles to the gallon. It is not quite as fast or powerful as my eight cylinder truck, but gets me to work and back for about $6 a week.
Welcome to Wisconsin! 🙂
Thanks for the reminders. I’ve been good about batching my errands or stopping on my way home from work, but I could certainly take that a step or two further. And I do live within walking distance of the library and grocery store, and just so happen to be in one of tthe few areas in my town that has sidewalks. Time to start walking to more places- for my health and the health of my bank account!
We were a one car family for several years, tried the 2 car thing for a little over 2 years, but when some idiot drove his car into the front end of my van 3 months ago we decided not to replace it. Instead, since we rent, we’ve decided to find a house/apartment that is near the places that the children and I frequently go. Once we find that place we’ll move.
Canadian Doomer says
We live in Mennonite country, and I have Old Order Mennonite friends, so the car option doesn’t seem nearly so radical to me! My grandfather never had a car. When he and my grandmother married in 1940, they were in an area that was rural and still mostly horse-and-buggy, and when that became impractical, he relied on family and neighbours. However (like my Mennonite friends), his world was small and familiar and it was a big deal to go very far from home.
Horse-and-buggy travel necessitates a complete change in lifestyle. 🙂
Another option is to check out the oil/gas wholesalers in your area. Alot of them have a set of pumps to get gas for their vehicles, but some of them allow the public to gas up also. I get gas about $.10 a gallon cheaper or sometimes more, because they don’t change their prices as much as a store, because they don’t want to compete against the stores they provide gas to.
If all US cars had the fuel efficient engines that exist and are obligatory in Europe then the US would eliminate it’s dependency on foreign oil. It’s time to start lobbying the automobile industry to get them to use the right engines.
Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama says
I definitely think it’s important to take care of your car(s). Get regular oil changes and check the tire pressure, so that your car is optimally efficient, therefore saving in gas money. 🙂
Find destinations that are super fun yet near to you. We have a whole bunch of parks that are less than 10 minutes away, and many days we use the closest “park” — our backyard. This way we can get out…without driving too much. I usually only fill up the car every two weeks now. I used to drive enough to have to fill it once a week, a year ago. I always do my grocery shopping every two weeks and hit 3 – 4 stores in one morning. Occasionally I hit my very closest stores (about 5 min.) other times to pick up needed items, but usually not too often. I’m too busy at home!
While using credit cards are not always the best route for some. If you are disciplined and want to save more. Check out the discounts that your credit cards have to offer. If you go with Exxon Mobil Mastercard they offer a 15cent per gallon discount when you use their card. And other companies like Discover have certain times of the year when they will offer % discounts for certain purchases made during certain quarters of the year. For example last qtr they offered a 5% discount on all gas purchases from Jan thru March.
We bought a motor cycle. Ok, so that doesn’t sound frugal but here me out.
My husband has wanted one for several years. After praying about it we decided it was well worth the minimum investment (it is used, bought from a friend and we got a sweet deal.)
He can drive to and from work for approximately 8 days on one tank of gas. Must better than filling up the F150 at $80.00 a pop every week. 🙂