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How to Avoid Pain at the Pump

Aug 10, 2008
Rising gas prices along with general increases in cost of living across the board are forcing many people to tighten their budgets and cut excess spending. In order to maintain a certain standard of living, people everywhere are looking for new ways to stretch their paychecks and make ends meet. While most people cannot realistically cut the cost of gasoline from their budgets, millions are finding ways to creatively cut back on fuel costs. Here are just a few ways you can help minimize your gas usage and save a few pennies at the pump.

1. Ride a bike
Studies have found that the average car trip is less than three miles. In most areas, this distance cane be covered on a bicycle without any trouble in fact, many urban areas are seeing a sharp increase in bicycle commuters. While a bike is not the most practical mode of transportation for every situation dropping the kids off at piano lessons, for example (unless everyone can ride their bikes, and you don't mind waiting until they finish to ride back home together) you might be surprised at just how efficient it can be. A trip to the grocery store is infinitely manageable, though you'll likely have to go more often and buy fewer items each time (bikes, sadly, lack trunk space). But think of the exercise you'll get, and the money you'll save on gas plus, you'd be hard-pressed not to find parking.

2. Take public transportation
Many areas offer reliable public transportation at a fraction of the cost of a tank of gas. While this type of transportation may be a bit less comfortable than driving yourself, and will likely take longer, think of the benefits no stress of maneuvering through traffic, no added pollution (on your part, anyway), more time to read or listen to music (that you would otherwise spend driving), and a significant drop in your transportation spending.

3. Drive smarter
If and when you do drive, limit gas expenditure by driving the speed limit and staying with the flow of the other cars on the road especially in traffic. Stopping and starting again and again quickly burns up gasoline. So does speeding. Also, whenever possible, consolidate your errands. Sit down and map out your errands for the week (or month) and schedule them to get as many done at once as possible. This will help you save both time and money. You'll also be less likely to buy things impulsively if you have a full schedule of errands to run (also a money-saver). There are other, smaller things you can do, too. Always remove unnecessary items from your car (particularly the trunk), as the added weight can minimize your fuel efficiency and burn gas faster. Don't fill your gas tank during the heat of the day, because you'll actually get less gasoline for your money than if you fill the tank in the morning or evening, when the gas is cooler and more dense (this won't save you a lot of money on the spot, but over time those pennies add up). Skip trips that you don't really need to make, like going out for no particular reason there are plenty of ways to entertain yourself that don't waste gas.

The bottom line is, even little everyday things can have a big impact on your fuel usage and spending over time, so carefully consider your options and think before you drive your budget will thank you for it.
About the Author
Ki works as a real estate agent in Austin. His site provides information about Austin real estate along with a free search of Austin MLS. He also provides monthly statistical updates on his Austin real estate blog.
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