Everybody could save money on gas.

Most people could save hundreds of dollars. Others could save a lot more.

The tricky part is:

1) Few people realize how much it costs to drive the way they drive.

2) Few people realize that their engine costs them money any time when it’s running.

This happens because the costs occur pennies at a time.

For example, one fast start could cost a few cents. Sitting in your car with the engine running could cost ten cents per minute. And so on.

A few pennies spent here and there can add up to a few dollars per day. And a few dollars per day adds up to a thousand dollars per year.

So can you really afford to spend this much on gas?


Save Gas, Save Money, Image by Steve Kaye

Why bother to save money on gas?

#1) Saving money on gas leaves more money to spend on yourself.

#2) Using less gas produces less pollution, which is good for the environment.

#3) Driving less leaves more time for more important activities.

So consider: What could you do with extra money?

Here’s what to do.

Note: Every idea is easy, practical, and good for you.


1) Leave It Off

Save gas by not using your car. For example:

Do: Shop by phone or over the Internet.

Do: Walk for local errands.


2) Change Time Zones

Do: Travel when others are less likely to be on the road. If your company allows flex time hours, choose a time window that avoids driving during rush hour.

Do: Shop early or late in the day. Besides encountering less traffic, you’ll find shorter lines in the stores.


3) Shut It Off

Do: Turn off the engine as soon as you park.

Do: Lock the door, fasten your seat belt, and then start the engine.

Do: Turn off the engine any time when you have to wait for more than a few minutes, such as at a railroad crossing.

Never: Leave the car parked with the engine running. This wastes gas and makes your car an easy target for thieves.

Important: Two minutes of letting the engine idle is equal to driving a mile – Unless you’re running the air conditioning, then it’s almost equal.


4) Drive Smart

Do: Drive carefully, allowing enough room for an emergency stop. You’ll save money, feel better, and provide a more enjoyable ride for your passengers.

Note: Reckless drivers depend upon others for their safety. If you want control over your life, drive smart.


5) Ride a Bicycle

Do: Pretend that you’re the engine. So avoid quick starts and racing to a stop.

Do:  Start gradually and coast to a stop.

Note: Quick starts use more than twice as much gas.


6) Be stingy

Do: Evaluate every trip for its importance.

Do: Combine errands on a single outing. Then start with the most distant destination. This way, you’ll warm up your engine while driving there. And you’ll get better mileage between the other stops as you drive toward home.

Do: Join a car pool for commuting to work or taking your children to school.

Do: Walk with your children. (The exercise will benefit all of you.)

Do: Use public transportation. Then you can use the travel time for reading, planning, or relaxing.


7) Travel Light

Do: Carry only what you need in your car. Extra weight wastes gas.

Do: Remove flags and decorations. These cause added drag, which wastes gas.


8) Shop Smart

Do: Before driving far to a special store, estimate the cost of gas plus the value of your time. Then compare those costs with the savings that you expect.

Do: Shop from stores close to home.


9) Keep Your Car Healthy

Do: Buy routine tune ups.

Do: Fix problems as soon as you notice them. Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.


10) Maintain tire pressure

Do: Make sure the tires are properly inflated.

 (Soft tires use more gas.)


11) Bonus Idea: Buy a fuel efficient car.

A smaller vehicle will save gas and save money on car payments.

Story about Cars, Dating, and Money

Once a man told me he planned to buy a big truck to impress women.

Let’s recognize that this truck will cost more than a car and use a lot more gas. The difference could be $500 per month (give or take a few hundred).

I can guarantee you that he would impress more women by buying a fuel-efficient car and putting the extra money in savings. Then he’d have investments that provided financial security or let him (and his spouse) buy things that really mattered, such as a house.


Want to Know More?

These two organizations are working to reduce the use of gas. See:

360.org

Climate Reality Project

Here’s more info.

My Letter to the CEO of Shell Oil