Those gas prices are getting awfully scary, aren’t they? For most of the United States, you’re looking at somewhere in the $4.50 range for a gallon of gas. Cross the border into Vancouver, Canada and you’re looking at over $1.50 a litre. That works out to about six bucks a gallon. Even to fill up an econobox, you’re looking at over fifty dollars worth of gas. Don’t even get me started on the big honking SUVs and pickup trucks in the audience.
Yes, it can be pretty expensive to boot around town in a car these days. With summer here and the kids out of school, you may be considering a trip to grandma’s place in the valley or maybe your summer cottage around the bend. Even if you are staying in your own city, driving to the local hotspots can prove to be a rather heavy burden on your wallet. Commuting to work isn’t exactly fun either.
What you’ll find below are 10 ways to help alleviate the burden of ever rising gas prices. They may not necessarily be as pretty or convenient as rocketing around town in a convertible, but your bank balance will appreciate the effort.
1. Buy a Bicycle
This option may not be quite as pleasant during the winter months, but you really have no excuse to get a little exercise (and save a lot of gas) by getting around town on a bike. You don’t need to invest in an expensive mountain bike. Poke around on online forums and local shops to see if you can find yourself a perfectly suitable used bicycle. These can be had for about $100 and you’ll never need to fill ‘er up. A bicycle is perfect for short commutes.
2. Get a Scooter
For slightly longer trips, it may not be appropriate to ride a bicycle for an hour or more. Instead of taking the family minivan to run your errands, it might not bea bad idea to invest in a scooter. These can be purchased for about $2,000 and they barely sip on the gas. A $6 fill-up can provide you with enough gas for up to 150km (almost 100 miles).
3. What’s Wrong with Your Legs?
I’ve been guilty of this. I’m easily within walking distance of a bank, grocery store, and restaurant, but I’ve been known to drive there instead of just walking there. It may take you an extra couple of minutes to get there, but walking is easily the most affordable form of transportation. If there’s nothing wrong with your legs, try walking.
4. Plan Ahead and Be Efficient
A friend of mine has a habit of making very inefficient trips. She’ll drive to work, drive home, drive back out for evening activities, drive home to grab something she forget, drive back out to re-join us, and then drive home again to go to bed. That’s a lot of unnecessary driving. Instead, she could have brought along her “casual” clothes to work, changed there, and just spent the evening out before going home. Plan and combine your trips so that you don’t do any unnecessary doubling-back. If you’re going to the grocery store, bring along that parcel that you need to deliver too.
5. Co-ops and Car Sharing
If your city has one of these organizations in place, they may serve as an inexpensive alternative to owning a car. You only pay when you use the car and they might only charge you by the hour. This fee usually includes everything, like gas, insurance, and maintenance. No headaches.
6. Public Transit
The people of Hong Kong, Japan, and London have understood this phenomenon for years. With heavy congestion and expensive gas (I hear it’s about $10 a gallon in Europe these days), it’s much more affordable and possibly more convenient to take public transporation. Instead of driving to work, consider taking the subway. The side benefit is that you can be a little more social, chatting it up with your fellow commuters.
7. Get a Smaller Car
Hybrid cars usually come at a premium and this is not something that everyone will want to pay. Instead, you can just opt for something smaller and more fuel-efficient. Cars like the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit are highly versatile, but they don’t use that much gas either.
8. Maintenance and Filling Up
Take good care of your car and it will run more efficiently. Keep up with regular maintenance and keep an eye on that tire pressure. Under-inflated tires can seriously damper your fuel economy. Also, pay attention to the cost of gas at the stations throughout the day. Generally, gas is a little cheaper in the evening than it is in the morning. It’s also cheaper during the week than on weekends.
9. Adjust Your Driving Habits
Do you have a lead foot? Just as you should be planning ahead for your driving trips, plan ahead during the drive as well. If you see that you are approaching a red light at an intersection, there is no need to continue hitting the accelerator. Coming out of the red light, there is no need to floor it. Build up your momentum before going up a hill and let the car cruise going down a hill. Small changes in your driving habits can make a huge difference to your fuel economy.
10. Sacrifice Elsewhere
When most people talk about saving gas, they ignore this very critical area. If you are in a situation where it’s not just plausible to abandon the car, you may have to look into making sacrifices in other areas of your life. Downgrade that venti latte to a tall drip. Skip out on the extravagant meals that you have during your lunch breaks. Buy older used video games instead of the newest of the new. If you want to keep your wallet (and your car) happy, sacrifices may need to be made.