Thursday, May 29, 2008

5 Ways To Save At The Gas Pump

$4/gallon gas is starting to have a big impact on all our lives.  We hear it every day on the radio, we're paying "fuel surcharges" for various services, airline prices are up, independent truckers are going out of business... the list goes on. 

We hold the key to fixing this situation ourselves - literally.  It's the key to your car.  Even better - fixing this problem will cost us nothing!  You don't need a hybrid car to improve your mileage - just a brain and a little willpower.

Let's say you drive 12000 miles each year and you get 20mpg on average.  At $4 per gallon for gas, you're spending on average $200 per month (or $2400 per year) on gas.  Using some simple smart driving techniques, you can easily improve your fuel efficiency by 20% - maybe even as high as 40%.  In this conservative scenario, saving 20% would give you back $480 per year! 

Take the case of an SUV driver who probably gets more in the range of 16mpg on average and drives 15000 miles per year.  They're spending $312.50 per month on gas!  By paying close attention to how they drive & hitting the 40% savings mark, this person could save up to $1500 per year!  That's larger than the economic stimulus package rebate check most families will get this year!  Granted, it's a bit of an extreme example, but you get the idea.

Here are 5 easy ways you can make a dramatic improvement in your mileage:

1.  Slow down.  Drive the speed limit and no more.

2.  Stop those "jackrabbit" starts when the light turns green.  Quick accelerations use a LOT of gas!

3.  Roll down the windows & turn off the AC - especially during this time of year when it's not really hot yet

4.  Don't use drive-thru's.  That time you spend idling while waiting for your fries eats a lot more gas than you realize!  Besides, we all need the exercise.  While you're inside, say hi to someone else in line and have a nice conversation for a change.

5.  Coast up to red lights.  Why accelerate only to have to slam on the brakes later?  You'll cause less wear and tear on your brakes too.

If we each use less gas, we lower demand.  If we lower demand, then prices drop.  It's simple economics.

If you don't believe me, try it for at least 1 tank.  Then go back to your old way of driving and see what the difference is.  For many of us, we fill up every 10 days or so.  If you can't slow down for 10 days, try at least 5 - anything is an improvement.

Of course I'm not naive enough to think enough people in this country will change their driving habits to the point that we lower gas prices, but it's nice to dream.

Monday, May 26, 2008

SplashMoney saves the day!

I haven't been posting lately because I've been busy packing up my house to move across town.  I'm always amazed at just how much junk a family can accumulate, even when you're trying to be conservative!  Even now, nearly a week after the move, I'm surrounded by boxes of stuff that I apparently need... apparently.

Anyway, I thought I'd just post a quick nod to SplashMoney as it came in really really handy this week while my main PC was offline & I didn't have the intertubes connected at the new casa yet. I've never been one to balance my finances in a checkbook, so it was incredibly useful to have instant access to my online banking through SplashMoney all week.  I was able to check balances & transfer money between accounts with ease.  The more I use it, the more I begin to wonder how I ever lived without online banking from my phone!

Read my full review of SplashMoney for more details on what it can do.