Sunday, August 23, 2009

A few pounds lighter and $1000 richer for just changing my driving route;-)

I read awhile back that according to the AAA, driving costs about 50 cents a mile, when you factor in maintenance, gas, insurance, etc.

That figure really has been sticking in my mind recently, when I think about having to sell two kids books at my garage sale to even earn 50 cents. Putting it in that sort of exchange rate in my head, I've been rethinking my driving routes.

Last year, 2008, my husband and I spent $5696 on car expenses, including gas and maintenance. This does not include a car payment as our Toyotas have been paid off for awhile now. That number astounded me as it does not even include insurance.

Broken down, it means we spend $474 a month or $15.80 a day. Each of us then spends $7.90 a day on car expenses. As I figure my income as clearing $10 an hour teaching law when all the taxes, commute, dry cleaning, and various expenses are tallied in, that means I would have to teach one hour a day, seven days a week, just to keep the mini-van running.

So the next question, how to reduce that? Got to cut those miles!! We live about three miles from town, so now I question a "milk" run. It will cost me $3 round trip to run to the local Kwick Trip, which means the gallon of milk is now running $6.00 or so out of pocket. Maybe just drink water and wait till the next grocery trip?

And a spur of the moment trip to Walmart, which is almost about 12 miles away, again costs $12 round trip (24 miles), and would I really want to teach another hour just for the privilege of driving to Walmart or can it wait.

One of my cousins got cheaper housing living 40 miles from his job. The 80 mile a day round trip ($40 a day in commute costs) adds up to $200 a week, or $800 a month, or $9600 a year. That would likely easily have covered a higher mortgage closer to his job. He does love his home but if I'd known more about commuting costs when he was house hunting, I would have sent him some numbers to crunch.

I have two new goals with regards to reducing mileage. The first is that I've started parking about 1/2 mile from the preschool my son attends. This gives me an extra mile a day of walking (good for burning calories) and keeps 50 cents in my pocket each day. It's sort of like finding two quarters on the sidewalk each and every morning;-)

The second goal is to reduce my driving by 40 miles per week. The only problem with this is I don't have an accurate tabulation of how many miles I drove last year to break down by month, but if anyone has ideas on this, I'd love to hear them. For now, I start the morning with hitting the odometer back to zero and make a goal to help myself, our finances, and the planet by keeping that number as low as I can for the day.

If I can achieve 40 fewer miles a week, in a year, that would be $1040 more in my pocket ($20 a week times 52 weeks in a year), less carbon in the atmosphere, and those blue jeans just a little looser;-) At worst, I'll start looking at other modes of transport.....

Best wishes!


  1. I have an idea about how to determine how much you drove last year. If you have receipts from when you got your last oil change or had any work done on the car, they always put the mileage on the ticket when you pay. If you have several from last year, you should be able to get pretty close on what you drove. I just found your blog today and so far, I am enjoying it. Happened to see a post you had on Thrifty Fun. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks Dottie. That's a great idea. I am going to see if I can track down my Jiffy Lube receipts.