- Author: Patti C. Wooten Swanson
One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount you spend on gas is to drive less. It may sound simplistic, but the less you drive, the more you save!
Check out the math: On average, Americans drive 16,550 miles per year. Reduce that by 10% and you’ll drive 1,655 fewer miles per year. If your car gets 24 miles per gallon (MPG), you’ll use 69 fewer gallons of gas. At $4.00 gallon, that’s an annual savings of $276.
3 Steps to Driving Less
The Auto Club (AAA) of Southern California (insert link to press release 2/27/2012)--where prices are among the highest in the country--- recommends drivers start by tracking their daily mileage, analyze your mileage, then implementing plan to drive less.
1: Track your daily mileage
The first step to making long term changes is to get a clear understanding of your current behavior so you can figure out where changes are possible.
Record where, why, and how far you drive each day. Choose a record keeping tool that works for you:
- Create your own log in a small spiral bound notebook (keep it in the glove compartment so it’s easy to access)
- Download a gas mileage template, such as the free one offered by Microsoft. Use it on your tablet, laptop, or cell phone. Or print a copy and record by hand.
- Find and use a mileage app, such as MileBug, which is available for both apple and android devices.
2: Analyze your driving habits
Look for trips that could be combined, made less frequently, or eliminated altogether. Also consider alternate forms of transportation—walking, biking, car pooling, or using public transportation, if available.
Do you run to the grocery store several times a week to get just a few items? Are there some trips you could share with others—for example, carpooling to social events or taking public transportation to the baseball stadium. Your family might enjoy walking to a nearby yogurt shop instead of piling into the car for the short ride.
Could you pick up the dry cleaning on the way home from work to save an extra trip? Or walk to the drycleaners during your lunch hour? Changing to a drycleaner near your office might be worth the time and money you save by not driving there every week.
Step 3: Implement strategies to reduce how much you drive
Small changes can make a BIG difference. For example, if you currently drive 10 miles to work, but find a route that is only 9 miles, you can reduce your commute by 10%.
Here are some strategies to try:
- Organize and combine errands. For ideas, see Know Before You Go, the Art of List Making
- Take the shortest route. Use a GPS or an online mapping tool to plan trips so you don’t drive any farther than necessary.
- Reduce your commute by 20%. Carpool or rideshare to work just one day a week.
- Use technology instead of driving. Use online services or mobile apps to do business whenever possible---deposit checks, apply for a loan, order prescriptions, register to vote, renew your driver’s license, request an absentee ballot, or check out books and DVDs from the library.
- Pre-shop from the comfort of home. Before heading out in your car, go online to figure out what you want and where to buy it.
- Comparison shop without driving. Use a QR code reader on your cell phone or tablet to find the best prices instead of driving all over town to figure out who offers the best deal.
- Know before you go. If you are shopping for something very specific, such as an advertised piece of furniture, call ahead to see if the item is in stock before driving to the store to buy something.
- Shop online. Many companies offer free 2-day delivery if you spend a minimum amount. Don’t buy more than you need though. Even if you pay for delivery, the total cost may still be less than the driving and parking at the mall.