Dealing With High Fuel Prices: Part 1
Dealing with high fuel prices can be hard on a frugal family’s budget. As you know, we’re always looking for new ways to cut down our already-low spending. This month we looked at one area that many of you are also looking at: fuel costs! How could we cut down our fuel usage, we asked? We brainstormed ideas, but it proved to be difficult because we don’t drive a lot usually. The only apparent answer was that we’d have to get creative and change our habits.
We live in Alaska and only have one garage available. My car usually goes in the garage and my husband’s goes outside. He has to start his and let it idle for about 10 minutes before leaving for work so the engine warms up enough to drive. (The joys of living in subzero temperatures!) Using the garage allows us to only have to idle one car, so that is a good start.
Our brainstorm produced these revelations for dealing with high fuel prices specific to our lifestyle. Maybe some of these tips can help you find new ways to cut down on fuel consumption too:
#1 Take Advantage of the Garage
On days when I am not leaving the house, I can put my car outside and Flash will take the garage, saving his car from idling and wasting fuel.
#2 Limit Your Driving on a Need-Only Basis
We can’t cut down on driving places like to and from school (we have no access to a school bus), but we can be more diligent about how many places we’re going. Do I really need to check the post office every day?
#3 Plan Your Route and Group Together Errands
If possible, group the errands you have by days and where you have to be. I had 2 errands to do yesterday which were very close to the library, so I returned the rentals to the library during that outing. I also needed to check the post office, which was on the other side of town. I had prescriptions that wouldn’t be ready until Tuesday, so I held off on the drive to the post office until Tuesday, when I could group the pharmacy and post office errands together.
If possible, try to make your route a giant circle which will take you to the places you need to go in order, ending you up back home without re-tracing your path. My husband got really good at that last summer during garage sale season! By planning trips around location and making sure you drive in the most direct manner, you can keep from driving a lot of unnecessary miles.
#4 Find Places Closer to Home
We have done a great frugal job as a family of ditching movie rentals and using our local library for media! However, the library is 3.1 driving miles away from our house, one-way. Media rentals are only for 7 days, which means we have to drive 6.2 miles round trip at least once a week to take out and return DVDs. That seemed like a lot of extra miles, but we didn’t want to cut out our great source of free entertainment.
The solution? There is no library closer to our house, but there is one at the college right next to my husband’s work building! We had never thought of it before, but having my husband do the pickup and return of DVDs at that library since he’s already there every day was a revelation! It started us thinking about what other things we could change so that our normal destinations are closer to home. Some places to possibly switch: grocery stores, banks, post offices, video stores, you get the idea.
All in all, we were able to find ways to cut our relatively low fuel consumption even further. Get creative and change your driving habits to help cut down on unnecessary driving and fuel expenses!