Gas prices – EEK! Never mind trying to plan a vacation – how are you going to afford to run your life and get to where you need to go with gasoline nearing $5 per gallon? As a consumer, you’re really at the mercy of the gas pump. Here are some suggestions for squeezing every penny out of your fuel expenses.
Cut overall mileage by planning your errands in groups. Instead of running to the bank on Tuesday, the grocery store on Wednesday and the post office on Friday, combine as many errands as you can into one trip. For example, my bank, stock-up grocery store, pharmacy, pet food store and post office are all within a mile of one another so before I run out to one, I think about what I may need at the others so I can save a trip or two later. Even if we don’t need cat food for a couple weeks, I pick it up while I’m in the neighborhood.
When we’re on the way to visit family or friends, we always consider other destinations that outing, even if only 10-15 miles farther than our immediate vicinity, may take us past so we can take advantage of our proximity. A trip to the hair salon takes us in the opposite direction from some of our usual haunts but closer to others, so we do the same every five weeks when it’s time for haircuts. This strategy saves gas and time because we’re not covering the same distance multiple times.
Give your usual errands and routes careful consideration to discover where you can combine your trips. What places do you pass when you’re picking up or dropping off your children at school, activities or friends’ homes? How about on your way to or from work, place of worship, favorite restaurant or health or social club? Saving a few miles here and there, it won’t take long to make a difference in your overall fuel expense. Just saving the multiple trips out of and back into my neighborhood represents a significant savings for me.
Experience even more savings by supersizing this strategy:
- Shop ahead for occasions - If you really want to plan ahead, you could make a list of upcoming purchases you may need to make at a mall or in a certain area. Consider purchasing upcoming birthday, graduation, wedding, anniversary and housewarming gifts when you’re near your favorite outlet mall. Stock up for wrapping paper and greeting cards while you’re there as well so as to avoid other unnecessary trips.
- Carpool shopping – Team up with some neighbors, nearby friends or family and share one vehicle on a shopping excursion. Even when you chip in for the cost of gas, it will only amount to a fraction of a single shopper’s fuel.
- Designated shopper - If you need a limited number of items from a store, rather than make the trip yourself, ask a friend or neighbor who’s going anyway to pick them up for you. You could also make a more formal plan for one person to shop for a group of people, with each member of the group taking a turn as the – duly compensated – “designated shopper.”
Like most saving strategies, this one is based on smart pre-planning of your time and effort. It’s amazing what you can save by simply not spending where you don’t need to. If you save enough money from prudently-planned travel every day, you may well be able to afford that vacation after all!
How can you save mileage in your everyday life, thereby saving money on fuel?