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How to Drive Less to Save Money
Driving Costs 56.5 Cents Per Mile
The 2013 federal mileage reimbursement rate for business miles is 56.5 cents per mile, based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. This equates to $56.6 for every 100 miles, which can really add up over the course of the year.
Looking for ways to save money on your monthly gas bill? Consider driving less. There are lots of sites about how to improve your gas mileage, but you should also consider simply reducing the miles you drive. Each mile not driven means less gas you need to buy, less wear and tear on your vehicle (meaning lower maintenance costs) and possibly lower insurance premiums.
Use a GPS to find the best route and save on gas
How to Put Less Miles On Your Car
Here are some ways to put a few less miles on your car:
- Plan your route - Find the shortest (or most fuel-efficient) route by using a GPS (global positioning satellite) system, such as a Garmin. This helps save you from getting lost and wandering around burning unnecessary fuel.
- Just say no - Consider not going to a few places that you had planned. Ask yourself, can this wait until the next time I am out? Is there something else I can use instead of going to the store? What if I didn't attend this event? Not only will you save money on fuel and maintenance, you might also simplify your life.
- Consider other forms of transportation - Ride a bike or walk for short trips. Check out bike sharing options in your city, like the Spokies program in Oklahoma City, which lets your borrow a bike in 30 minute increments. Also consider taking the bus. I had always thought it would be a bad experience and even a little unsafe. But, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and give it a try. The result - I loved it. I was able to check e-mails and read the paper, while someone else did the driving. And, as for the safety, I felt way more comfortable that I had expected. If we hadn't moved away from the areas covered by the bus, I might still be taking it today.
- Combine stops - If you are already going to be in an area, think about what other stops you need to make that are close. For example, there is no way I can walk to a dry cleaner from home, but if I bring my dry cleaning to work, I can walk to the cleaners over lunch.
Longer Term Options
While there are lots of things you can do on daily basis to drive less, there are also some great options that require a slightly longer time horizon.
- Move closer to work - Shortening your work commute can mean big savings. While this isn't an option for everyone, it's a great option for many commuters. This is especially true for renters, who are likely on six- to twelve-month leases. You may even by able to move close enough to walk or ride a bike, but even if you can't move that close, cutting your drive my 10-miles each way can add up to $56.50 per week (or $2938 per year).
- Consider a new job - If you can't move closer to work, consider moving work closer to you. Ask yourself if there are similar job openings that are closer to home. Though not for everyone, depending on your job, this may actually by quite easy.
- Telecommute - Some employers offer work from home options that allow you to eliminate the drive into the office one or more days per week. If your employer doesn't offer this, consider talking to him or her about setting up a trial period. I have telecommuted during several positions over the years and have found I can actually by more productive when working at home by eliminating office distractions.
- Flexible work scheduling - Rather than working from home, like a telecommuter, you might be able to drive to the office a few less days by rearranging your work schedule. Essentially you are condensing your work schedule from 10 8-hour days to something shorter, such as 8 10-hour days (often referred to as 4-40s). There is also a schedule called 9/80s. In this model, you work 8 9 hour days, one 8-hour day and have on day off every-two weeks. Typically you would work an extra hour Monday-Thursday and take off work every other Friday. Whatever the arrangement you work out with your employer, it is a great opportunity for you to save on gas and get a few extra days off.
Does your job allow you to telecommute?
Other Benefits of Driving Less
While there are certainly obvious impacts of driving less, there are some fringe benefits as well.
- Each mile not driven means less environmental impacts.
- If you are able to cut back on the miles you drive each you, you may also qualify for reduced insurance premiums. Talk to your insurer.
- If you are like me, driving can be stressful. The less time I have to spend behind the wheel, the less stressed I am.
What other suggestions do you have for driving less?