Sunday, April 27, 2008

Calculating Your Fuel Costs

With food prices in a wild race with gas prices, I've realized that it's time for me to take our personal frugality to new extremes. Each week I'm going to try a few new things to see if we can't cut back on utilities, food costs and fuel.

First off, I found this nifty Fuel Mileage Calculator to help me figure out how much it costs me to drive per mile. This was beneficial because I realized that my old minivan is much more efficient then I give it credit for and my per mile costs are much less than I thought. Knowledge is power, and in this case it helped me avoid a costly mistake.

I was planning on buying a bike rack for my minvan so I could cut out one school trip a day by leaving my van and riding back home on my bike. That would save me 6 miles a day. According to this calculator, it costs me about .19 a mile to drive around, so cutting 6 miles would add up to $1.14 a day. With only 30 days left in our school year that would save me $34.20.

With the cheapest bike rack I could find costing $53, I would have to use it for around 99 days to break even. If I would use the bike rack in other situations, it would be worth it. In my case, however, I will only be using the bike rack for the next 30 days. It’s cheaper for me to continue driving the extra 6 miles a day.

Over this summer I plan on using my bicycle and the bus system to save money. Right now I drive an average of 20 miles a day. That equals $3.80 a day for me to drive. That adds up to around $115 a month. That’s pretty significant over the course of the summer, not to mention the exercise I’ll be getting. I think I’ll probably shop even less then I do now since I’ll have to haul it back in my back pack or return for it with the car.

Calculate your own fuel costs so you can make informed decisions instead of knee jerk reactions like I almost did. To make it easy, simply write your odometer reading on your gas receipt every time you fill up and slip it in your wallet. Then all the info you need is right there when you need to calculate your gas costs.

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