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    Gas Prices Driving You Crazy?

    June 20, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    I don’t drive much. I drive a Suburban, which has always been expensive to fill up, even when gas was back in the two-dollar range. But now? Now, I find that I am limiting my travel even more. Last week, for instance, we tried to stock up at one of our regular errand spots. This week, we were able to skip that weekly errand.

    This errand is to a store that is 11.6 miles round trip from our home. My Suburban gets approximately 12 miles to the gallon on city streets. This means that running this errand costs our family $4.35. It is worth it to me to try to skip it every other week in hopes of saving that money.

    Especially when everything is adding up that way.

    It costs Si almost $5 to drive to work and back each day. It costs $2.40 for all of us to take the Suburban to the grocery store. Sometimes it feels like dollars are flying out of our checking account at great speed.

    So I ask you, have you started doing the math? Are gas prices changing how you live your life?

    That trip to an out-of-town friend’s house I was hoping to take? $77. The annual day-trip to the beach? Approximately $81. Driving to great-grandma’s for a swim? $8.40. Driving to our favorite park? $4.28.

    I make it no secret that we run a tight ship around here. We do this out of necessity, not because frugality is something I find particularly exciting {at least not to the extent that we practice it}.

    So I ask you again, have you started doing the math?

    I realized when gas was in the $3 range that it was no longer profitable for me to visit second-hand clothing stores that were away from home. I actually save more money watching sales at Kohl’s.

    And can you do the math? Here is the equation, in case you need it:

    D x P/M


    D=distance, the number of miles {round-trip} that you will be driving
    P=the price per gallon of gas {it’s $4.50 here and rising}
    M=miles per gallon of the car you are driving

    Here is an example:

    D=Your grocery store is 5 miles away, round-trip {2.5 miles each way}, on city streets
    P=You are lucky and you’re paying $4.25 per gallon
    M=You drive a compact that gets 21 MPG on city streets


    5 x $4.25/21= $1.01

    Lucky you! It only costs you a buck to get to the grocery store and back.

    What are you paying to drive your car?

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  • Reply Rahime June 25, 2008 at 5:32 am

    We did just decide to downsize our car a bit for one with better fuel efficiency. It’ll drop my commute costs to $14.85, and we’ll be getting the car (which is a few yrs. older but has fewer miles on it) for slightly less than we should be able to sell my current car for. This should save us almost $1000/yr. just in commuting, not including other driving we do.

  • Reply Gracie June 23, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    $8.72 per day, which is a lot lower than what I thought it would be. I guess having higer expectation helps when it comes to things like this. πŸ™‚

    Yes, gas prices are flying through the roof and everything else too. But I’ve also made a conscience decision that there are things that I can’t avoid doing…so…got to just not let the price get to me! But then again, I don’t really have too many things or extra mouths to pay for as well. So, I’m sure it all evens out at the end. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Brandy June 23, 2008 at 3:13 pm


    I, too, find myself resisting the mindset of essentially choosing money over people. For instance, choosing not to visit a friend or family member because it will cost $X. Especially when gas was back in the $2 range, I tried to never think about what it would cost, but just be wise in general (i.e., not making silly, wasteful trips). However, the prices are getting to the point where they jeapordize our family’s budget. As we reach our limitations, I find we are having to choose. Do I go see that friend, OR do I wait and see that family member on Saturday? I can’t afford to do both any longer.

    It is ironic when we think that it was the car that first enabled our society’s members to live farther from each other (and still remain in contact). Now it is the car that is beginning to keep us apart.

  • Reply Rahime June 22, 2008 at 6:22 am

    oops, I meant $3800

  • Reply Rahime June 22, 2008 at 6:20 am

    I have calculated one: At current rates, it costs me about $19.50 to get to and from work (that includes a $4 bridge toll…which is rumored to go up to $5 soon, but doesn’t include the gas I use driving between clients’ houses). Breaks down to ($4.65/gal. x 35 mi / 21 mi./gal x 2) + 4. Makes me happy that it only costs ‘Chung $2.50 to get to work and home on the bus.

    The part I hate is: x5 days/wk x39 wks per yr. = $3900 Yuck!!

    None of my other errand even remotely compare since everything else is very close, so I haven’t calculated them.

    I also hated that when I was recently asked to come visit my sister-in-law and help her with our nephew and niece one afternoon I thought twice about it when I realized it would cost over $30. I went, but I really dislike thinking this way. Probably good for us on the whole though.

  • Reply Ellen June 21, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Yeah, I think sometimes I make things sound more serious than they actually are without really meaning to. It’s an unfortunate consequence of my current writing style, I guess. I was concerned when he didn’t want to do anything other than lie around in his crib and suck his thumb and sleep all day. But he has recovered, and I’m on the mend, too, after some bad nausea. Thanks for thinking of us and praying for us.

  • Reply Brandy June 21, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Lydia, I know what you mean about raises! Si is supposed to get 4% next month, but we figure that won’t even bring us back to where we were before gas rose so much! Of course, what you say is true: a raise is a raise. At least we are prevented from getting further “behind.” Not everyone gets a cost-of-living adjustment, so I am grateful.

    I just read an article concerning what you mentioned (taking your vacation time, but remaining in your home while you do it). They have coined a new word for this because it is supposed to be quite a popular thing to do this season: staycation. I thought it was cute. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Lydia June 21, 2008 at 3:16 am

    Just today I was considering maybe, just maybe looking into finding a nursing job closer to home. I have a 20 minute one-way commute currently and I have no clue what that translates into money for a round-trip. I need to “do the math” as you so wisely suggested.

    I am beginning to think that my 5% pay raise effective on this next paycheck may not be worth getting excited about. I was excited. A raise is a raise, after all. But maybe what I really need is a job less than 5 miles from my home or within biking distance. Now, that, might be worth getting excited over.

    *sigh* And gas isn’t even quite up to $4.00/gal here yet. I saw it at $3.87/gal on my drive home. But my summer vacation is already in jeporady. Guess I’ll have to get very creative in using my 2 weeks vacation around home. πŸ™‚

    Anyway, I think you are processing this wisely and thinking of creative ways to conserve. Thanks for sharing and encouraging each of us to calculate the cost for ourselves.

  • Reply Brandy June 20, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Kimbrah, I totally agree about balance being the key. For instance, we’re not going to entirely cut out swimming at Great Grandma’s house on Saturday because it is important to see her. But we will no longer go there just to swim (what I mean is, when she isn’t home). Doing the math has also made me see the benefit of maybe going somewhere alone in Si’s compact. I always like all of us to go together, but financially that isn’t benefiting us. Not that we would cut errands together entirely, but we could definitely see it as optional when things get tight.

    Incidently, I am obsessing over this a little because it cost a little over $130 dollars to fill up the Suburban on Tuesday. Now, I don’t drive much and I don’t fill up often, but when I got a price tag like that, it made me think about where exactly that $130 went.

  • Reply Kimbrah June 20, 2008 at 9:58 pm


    This is a great idea. I hadn’t really thought of it that way. I am going to start doing the math on our trips to see how much it is costing us.

    On another note, sometimes for me (the extra extrovert) the monetary cost to travel to see friends is worth it for me. I know that Eddie agrees when I have been going stir crazy, a visit to friends is a lot cheaper than therapy. πŸ™‚

    But I have also realized that I need to find other ways to fulfill that need in my life that aren’t a constant co$t to my family’s budget. Balance, balance, balance. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Brandy June 20, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Thanks for commiserating ladies! Misery loves company, it is totally true. πŸ™‚ Actually, what I’d like is for all of us to get a break, but what do you do?

    Ellen, Sorry to hear you’re sick, too, but I’m glad to hear Seth is better. Your post sounded kind of serious!

  • Reply Ellen June 20, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Seth is getting better. He had a hard day yesterday, just being super tired, but today he is much more cheerful and eating better. Now me… =) I think my body is trying to fight it off. My stomach has been queasy this morning, and I took a long nap this afternoon. We’re having out of town guests tonight, and they know I’m on the edge. Please pray I don’t start throwing up. =)

  • Reply Michele@Philoxenos June 20, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Prices are totally making a difference in our choices. My husband used to come home for lunch a couple times a week, but we’ve now moved a little bit farther away and gas has gone up (I paid $4.45 a gallon last week). We figured out that it costs us $3.14 for each roundtrip. That completely negates any savings we make by eating lunch at home. Now I make sure he takes a packed lunch (I did this anyway on days he wasn’t coming home) and if he does forget then he just gets a cheap lunch at a fastfood place.

    And just yesterday a couple friends wanted to get together but one friend lives a 25 mile round trip away. She lives on a very tight budget and wasn’t going to be able to pay for the gas, so the other two of us chipped in to pay for her gas.

    It’s honestly unbelievable. I’ve been thinking about taking a trip to Monterey, but the extra tank of gas is going to add $75 to that trip!

  • Reply rebecca June 20, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    This has been on my mind lately, as well. The grocery store is within walking distance (I think it is .8 miles one way), but it has been so hot here that I haven’t started walking…. yet. We are also buying local (tee-hee), but that is because we can get most of our produce from the fruit stand that is only about a mile away and it is cheaper and riper.

    We are trying to limit our errands to about one day a week, if at all possible. It usually ends up being two days, since we go to church and make a couple of stops on the way home.

    I don’t calculate the cost of each errand, but I am watching how often I have to fill my tank. I also have cut way back on the trips to visit my parents/ friends in other town. Haven’t been since gas topped $4, in fact.

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