21st Century Dad
One Dad's Thoughts, Ideas, and Feelings.
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27 Days on One Tank of Gas

May 13th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad
Sport Utility Vehicle
Photo: SocialTechnologies.com

Crunchy on the Inside With a Soft Suburban Outer Coating” started its life as a lengthy and thoughtfully written article. I decided to split it up into smaller chunks over several weeks. The first installment came out on Earth Day. The mid-section of this article series has expanded due to the timing of events.

Maybe you employ every gas-saving tip out there, but there is more money to squeeze from other areas in our lives without suffering for it. Some tactics even improve the quality of life.

Finally Filling Up Again

The insidious “E” light came on today as I was driving home from work. I know this doesn’t mean “Get gas now or be stranded on the roadside!” but it always imparts a sense of urgency. Besides, I spotted a screaming bargain at $3.73/gallon (15 years ago in Europe or Japan, dozens of cars would be lined up at that gas station).

I made it 27 days between fill-ups. I paid $6 more at the pump this time.

The Real Cost of Gas

Gas prices are an easy target. The per-unit cost has gone up significantly, but what impact does it really have on our budgets? Let’s examine a hypothetical (and realistic) scenario here:

The Almost-Good Old Days

  • $3.00/gallon
  • 25 mile round-trip commute.
  • 25 MPG

Today

  • $3.73/gallon
  • 25 mile round-trip commute.
  • 25 MPG

To keep this simple, we’re isolating the cost of commuting to work. I’m Asian and I got bad grades in math all through school. Let’s keep this simple, OK? Based on the assumptions outlined above, we have a fuel cost of $15/week in the past. At the higher price, we have a weekly fuel cost of $18.65. We’re talking about $3.65. Can you find $3.65 worth of fat in your weekly expenditures? Yes, the percentage of increase is gruesome, but what is our total expenditure increase over the medium and long term? Oh, and BTW, you can trust these figures. I’m not that bad at math.

Think Outside the Pump

I’m not making light of the budget stretching that’s going on. I also recognize that many people have longer commutes or less fuel-efficient vehicles than the scenario outlined above.

I get my share of “woe-is-me.” There’s a teenager living here. If a solution to your problem is within reach, the last thing I want to hear is whining. Enlist your creativity (or mine) and find the money you’re throwing away.

  • Chances are, in a 2-car household, one car gets used more. Drive the one that gets better mileage more.
  • One can of soda per day represents $10/month. Drink water instead.
  • Attention smokers. Cut out 3 cigarettes a day and there’s your $15/month.
  • Do I really have to talk about the oft-vilified Starbucks Latte again? Dunkin’ Donuts coffee costs less and tastes better.
  • Visit my buddies Frugal Dad and Mike.
  • Ride your bike instead of driving.
  • Take the bus.
  • Buy stuff on Amazon instead of driving to the mall.
  • Stay home and read my blog.

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21 Days And Counting on the Same Tank of Gas

May 6th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Public TransitThe last time I filled up my tank was April 15th. It was so long ago, I had to dig in my bank statement to find out. I spent $37.02. That tank of gas would cost me $43 $45 today. That’s why I have been riding my bike and using public transit.

I admit, my results are skewed. I was without the full-time employment portion of my income strategy for 2 weeks. My current gig gets me out the door at a reasonable hour and guarantees that I can leave work promptly at the “official” end of office hours.

I’m pretty handy with the most of the Adobe Creative Suite (hint hint hint to anyone looking for freelance graphic designers). PDFs of the bus timetables and maps can be easily sliced up, organized in iPhoto, and imported to my iPod. An essential piece of public transit warrior gear can become even more useful.

Reducing one’s reliance on an expensive resource is always a smart move. Commuting by car would represent a monthly fuel cost of $64. That’s not inclusive of the total cost of driving or the personal driving that I do. I am clearly coming out ahead by riding the bus. Reducing my gas consumption to 1 tank of gas per month is a realistic goal. Taking the bus to work costs me $40/month.

Driving less also translates into higher resale or trade-in value on my car when it’s time to phase it out.

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