Drive Less, Spend Less


Thanks for all the encouragement about No Spend Month, and I’ll try to answer everyone’s questions. Today let’s focus on gas. 

There’s no question that gas is expensive.  The higher gas price is the reason we increased our No Spend budget to $250, instead of the $200 limit we had last year.  I know transportation is not essential to life, but it’s not optional either.  Last July when we were down to our last $3, we chose to buy gas instead of food.  I figured I could find more food in the back of the pantry, but the fuel gauge was below the “E”. 

 Dana asked: 

Do you live close to work? how many cars do you have? I would love to hear the details here…

We fill up the gas tank in my car 2 or 3 times a month, and it costs about $60 per tank right now.  The gas Doug uses for work is reimbursed by his company, so the main cost is driving my car for family outings and errands.  We are starting with 3/4 of a tank of gas in my car.  If we fill it up twice this month, it leaves only $30 a week for food, so I am hoping we will use less by combining trips and staying close to home.

Really, there’s only one way to save money on gas.  There’s no discount store brands or coupons.  You can’t negotiate the price.  You can simply use less.  Keeping that in mind, a couple of years ago we made some strategic decisions.

  • The first was choosing reliable cars with good gas mileage.  We own two Honda Accords.  We bought both of them used so that we could pay for them with cash.  One car is 9 years old, and the other is 10 years old.  They both run exceptionally well.  We try to do regular preventive maintenance to keep them in good condition and running efficiently.  (Check out my post on how to change a car’s air filter.)
  • The second decision was choosing where we live.  I stay home with Lane now, but I used to work in an office building less than a mile from our apartment.  I loved that 4 minute commute, and I could often come home for lunch.  Within a mile or two, we have 3 grocery stores, a beautiful park, pharmacy, coffee shops, restaurants, retail shops, and a post office.  I could walk to them, but seriously, it’s hot outside, so I’d rather drive.

I wish we had access to trains and subways. It’s hard to think about the city spending so much money to expand the highways instead of developing the public transit.  Maybe that will change.  

In the meantime, we’re trying to drive less often and take shorter trips.  Plus be more patient. Driving the speed limit is one way to save money. When Lane was born, I started driving a lot more slowly, since I wanted to be extra cautious with her in the back seat. Did anyone else experience that?  She loves to go places, so we won’t be staying home all month. We’ll just have to keep it close to home.

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Excellent points!

    (My hubby and I were extra cautious when our children were born too. We drive like cautious little old ladies.)

    Our Explorer gets pretty bad gas mileage. So I’m the one that drives it, since I don’t drive much and am close to most everything like you are. May change vehicles w/ hubby this fall when I’ driving all over (school, preschool, and shopping all in one day will drain the gas tank fast).

    We’re hoping to walk to the park today, because we’ve been driving all over with Grampa visiting. Maybe we can have a close outing today while the guys work on the swing set.

  2. I always go the speed limit now – or even less. I live 3 miles from anything – so walking isn’t going to happen. One thing I do differently is only go out once a day. I plan my drive. Last night I returned books to the library, returned a rented movie and stopped to buy a highlighter. I find making a “to do” list each morning saves tons on gas!
    Happy 4th!


  3. Similar comment as Dana’s. These days I think more about where I need to go and try to consolidate everything into one trip…making a list and then numbering it for what I’m going to do first, second, etc. If I just have one or two things and they aren’t that critical, I’ll just move those things to another day rather than waste gas.

  4. I figured out how many miles I get per gallon (not as much as I hoped) then started thinking about how much it is going to cost me to drive to the location I want to go to. I figured out it is costing me almost $10/day just to drive to work. YIKES! When I put a dollar amount to my driving, it sure makes me reconsider the necessity of having to go somewhere.

  5. I’m definitely going to be following your challenge this month. We have 2 vehicles – a Chevy Trailblazer (crappy gas mileage) and a Mazda Protege (good gas mileage). I drive 15 mi. to work (one-way) so I drive the Mazda. Fortunately Hubby has a work vehicle so we try to be very selective about where/when we drive the trailblazer. To reduce the cost of our gas usage for his running around, we just purchased a 1979 Yamaha motorcycle at a really good price. He can go miles and miles on just a few $ of gas. Now if we need just a couple of items from the grocery store, he straps on the backpack and away he goes. I used to think nothing of driving to town for groceries (the same town where I work) on Saturday. Now I try to do all of my errands before or after work and stay home on the weekends.

  6. You all are really encouraging me to plan ahead and consolidate my trips!

  7. We are definitly on board with the trip consolodation thing! :) When we moved from the city to the “country” last year the hardest adjustment was the distance issues we faced. EVERYTHING is at least 5-10 miles from us. We have one gas station (w/a Subway inside) that is about 2 miles, but other than that we’re driving.

    Just this morning we needed a few essentials from the grocery store (read Wal-Mart as we have no other options…another adjustment) and hubby headed out. I gave him a bag that I needed returned to the drug store since he was going that way already…no sense in me driving 10 miles roundtrip.

  8. I love this idea! And I really love your blog, thank you for sharing such enlightening and hopeful stories about your life. I can’t do the “no spend month” this month or next month (going back to college and all that), but I will definitely try it out in September!

    At some point I’d also like to do a little twist on this idea and have a “No Energy Month” where I try to get along without using gas or electricity (excluding the refrigerator).

    Bless you!

  9. Six weeks ago as I was driving home from work with a flashing “E” light, and looking at the gasoline prices I felt angrier and sicker by the minute. I ignored my vehicle’s incessant whining for “food”, and drove it straight home into the garage and left it there. I got a bus pass the next day (bonus – I found out my employer even reimburses for them!). I haven’t looked back. The bus stop is not “convenient” to my home. It is over a mile away, and I live at the top of a long steep hill. So, that’s good news! Now I am required to exercise! (don’t have to pay for a gym membership) When I have to run errands or go to the grocery I do them all at once to save trips out, and I use my husband’s little GEO instead of my SUV if at all possible. So far I have saved just over $550, made some nice new bus buddies, and I’ve lost 5 pounds. Not too shabby. The extra effort to get out there and hoof it, look up your bus schedules and consolidate auto excursions is totally worth it!
    I really like your site :)

  10. Thanks A2B, that’s motivating. You’ve got a great writing style. I enjoyed reading more on your blog.

    Dave, we’ve been thinking about how to go without electricity too. (Including the fridge, maybe using for canned food instead of frozen?) It was the laptop that I didn’t think I could live without. If you ever decide to try it, I hope you let me know how it goes.

  11. I would like to see the inscription “to be continied”:-D