May 2, 2013

Better Planning on Driving Can Save Lots of Gas Money

This past weekend my wife and I took a trip to a store to buy an item that was on sale.  This trip ended up being 11 miles each way for a total of 22 miles round trip.   Thats about 1 gallon of gas for my car.    In total the trip cost us roughly $3.50 worth of gas at todays prices.  The store in question is on my way to work from our house.   If I had instead stopped there on my way home from work on Monday then it would have been just 0.6 miles out of my way.  That would have cost me about 10¢ in gas.   This extra trip cost us about $3.40 in gas.    It wasn't that big of a deal, it was just one trip and my wife was anxious to buy get the sale item in question before they sold out.   The sale was $50 off of an item that rarely goes on sale so theoretically getting there soon may have saved us $50. 

But what if we engaged in such trips routinely?    If we failed to plan our trips to the store like that and went there just once a month we'd be wasting $42 a year at todays gas prices.

There are two stores I often go to for groceries.   If I go to both in one trip then the total trip from home to store A to store B to home is 12.3 miles.   If I were to make two separate trips then I'd spend 9.1 miles to go to store A and 10.6 miles to go to store B.   Thats 19.7 miles total.   By combining the stores into one trip I save 7.4 miles.   That costs about $1.17 in gasoline for my car.   If I did that once a week for the weekly grocery trips then that would add up to over $60 a year.

Now lets say that my wife and I got home from that trip to the store and later decided to go out to eat for dinner.   If we didn't plan it well and went to the store in the afternoon then made a separate trip to eat out in the evening then we would have wasted more gas.  It is 6.7 miles round trip to the restaurant from our house.   Add that to the 22 miles round trip to the store and you've got 28.7 miles total.     If we'd instead gone to the store first and then the restaurant then the total would be 20.6 miles.   Thats a difference of 8.1 miles or about $1.28 in gas.   

Some of this may seem like common sense to most of us.   Of course you'll save money and time if you combine trips.   But on the other hand maybe its not so obvious how much you can save.  Its also not as easy to plan in advance unless you're really thinking about it.   Say my wife and I had gone out to dinner after that trip to the store, combining those trips isn't something I'd necessarily think ahead to do on a random Saturday afternoon.  But if you're aware of the fact that any given trip might cost you $2 or $3 extra in gasoline then you may be more likely to think ahead and combine all your trips as much as possible.

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3 comments:

  1. We always make sure to plan our drives. W isn't that good at planning though :/

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  2. Well illustrated. I have a pal who drives 30 miles each way to "save money" on a matinee ticket price for movies. This made sense in 2003 when gas was <$2/gal. And places a zero value on his time.

    Still, your wife was happy so I think you made an excellent investment in both time and money, which can't be quantified in minutes or dollars.:-)

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  3. JayCeezy,

    Actually that movie thetre example works for me too.
    For us the cheaper movie theatre is a 36 mile round trip and the closer theatre is just 14 miles. So thats about $3.50 in gas to go to the cheaper theatre. The cheaper theatre is only about $1 less per ticket. So it isn't worth it for us to spend $3.5 in gas to save $2 on tickets.

    Jim

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