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”.
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.