Saving Money At The Gas Pump

While a lot of recent attention has been focused on rising home heating costs, the price of gasoline is still a source of concern for many Americans. To help reduce your overall gas consumption consider the following tips:

  • Drive wisely. Aggressive driving (raking, speeding and rapid acceleration) is not only unsafe but a waste of gas – you can use up to 33 percent more gas by driving aggressively at highway speeds!
  • Keep it at 60. Because of most cars’ design, it will actually cost you gas (and money) to drive above the speed limit. A good rule of thumb is that each 5 mph over 60 mph is like paying an additional 21 cents per gallon for gas. Using your cruise control on the highway can help you maintain a safer (and more economical) speed.
  • Keep it tuned up. Replacing dirty air filters, improving your car’s emission system and other standard tune-ups can help improve your mileage considerably, meaning you will have to make fewer trips to the pump.
  • Pump your tires up. By keeping your tires property inflated to their proper pressure you can increase your fuel economy up to 3%.
  • Get the right oil. By using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil for your car you can increase your car’s fuel performance by 1-2%. Also look for motor oil that says “energy conserving” on the label to make sure it contains fuel- reducing additives.

To really reduce your cost of gas, consider temporarily using public transportation, car-pooling or taking a bike ride for your next trip. Even a periodic trip by foot, bus, carpool or bike can help lower your gas costs…and it can help the environment at the same time!

How Should I Budget For A Trip?

There are two times in your vacation/travel planning process that you should consider your budget. First, as mentioned in the post about decision making, you should think about it before you even begin to plan your trip. The broad question to consider here is: How much can I spend? That is, how much can I afford to spend and how much am I willing to spend? (You may be able to afford to spend $10,000 but only want to spend $1,000 or you may want to spend $10,000 but can only afford $1,000.)

The second time you should think about your travel budget is after you’ve researched how much your transportation and hotel should cost. It’s hard to create a vacation budget before you do any research on the cost of transportation and hotel because these are large expenses that vary greatly depending on the time of year, etc. So, once you have found the approximate cost of these two main expenses you can get into the nitty-gritty of your budget.

Here are some categories of expenses to consider when developing your travel budget:

  1. Transportation– getting there and away; including taxi to the airport
  2. Lodging
  3. Food– don’t forget about drinks and snacks
  4. Expenses before you go (new clothes, passport, traveler’s checks, etc.)
  5. Miscellaneous Expenses once you’re there (ATM fees, money changing fees)
  6. Transportation while you’re there (getting around via rented car or public transit)
  7. Entertainment once you’re there (tours, museum entrance fees)
  8. Expenses at home while you are gone (house/pet/baby sitting, etc)
  9. Incidentals when you’re there (tips, phone charges, internet charges, etc)

When creating your budget be realistic. You are not going to be able to get by spending $10 a day on food if you plan on eating at a restaurant for every meal. And, you don’t want to have a crappy vacation because you haven’t budgeted any money to get into museums.

You can create your budget with just a simple piece of paper. Or you can design your own spreadsheet. I have designed a Travel Budget Spreadsheet that you can download here. (Note that all of the categories are listed per day/person except for two. At the top of the budget you list the number of days/nights you will be gone and the number of people going on the trip. You just fill in the rest of the numbers based on your estimated expenses per day per person. I’ve designed the spreadsheet to calculate the cost of the entire trip, the cost of the trip/day, the cost of the trip/person, and the cost of the trip/person/day.)

Creating a budget for your trip may not be the most exciting thing in the world; but it’s just as important as creating a budget for your everyday life. If if you find that the estimated cost of your trip will be more than you can afford, try to come up with some other options, maybe take a trip closer to home, or think of ways you can eat more cheaply. No matter what: Don’t spend more than you can afford on a vacation. There’s no point ruining your vacation worrying about money or ruining the memory of it by having to pay it off in years to come.

I have already written about how to save money on some of the expenses listed above including how to save on Transportation and Lodging . In future posts in this series I will give ideas on how to save on other expenses.