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Saving Money on Driving, One Way or Another

I timidly handed my keys over to the repair shop manager the other day as memories of past repair bills danced through my head. I’ve spent over $1,000 this past year on necessary repairs, and I wasn’t looking to up that bill any higher. But it was making an awful scraping noise, so I took it in and prepared myself for the toppling bill.

The bill ended up being $63.20. Actually, I only paid $43.20 because I had a coupon for a free oil change.

But that’s not the only way I’ve been saving money on car stuff this summer. I’ve been going the big, crazy, scary distance that some people go to cut their gas bill in half (or more!):


My boyfriend and I have been carpooling whenever possible, since we’re both working on our college campus this summer. And it’s been working out splendidly – except for that one day that I totally forgot to pick him up.

It will probably take until the end of the summer until I have some solid numbers – I’ll try and compare both the amount I saved and the amount the boyfriend saved, but I’m guessing it’s going to be significant.

Driving to and from work daily, by myself, should cost about $150 a month, not counting any recreational driving whatsoever. Over the past month, I’ve spent $110 on gas, including weekend and fun-type stuff. So, booyah.

The Bus

I looked into taking the bus to work, but it just doesn’t look like a good idea. I live in one suburb and work is in another – I’d have to take one bus into the city, and then another back out to the other suburb. The bus ride would be about an hour and a half, whereas my driving commute from home is 30-35 minutes. And the bus would be $3 per day.

Oh, not to mention I’d have to drive a mile and a half to the park-and-ride spot to catch the bus. The savings would be about $40 per month over what I’m paying for gas with carpooling, but I’d lose about 3 hours a day to bus time, and I’d have to get up around 5:30-6am to get to a 9am job.

“Excuses!” you say. “That’s another $40 a month you could have!” Well, ok, maybe. I’m not a big fan of saying “my time is worth $xx.xx per hour, so this money-saving activity isn’t worth doing.” But I am a fan of saying “Sleeping in until 7am instead of 5:30 is worth $40 a month to me.” That’s just a personal choice. I like sleep.

Has anyone else changed their transportation habits in the face of rising gas prices? Or is it just me?

10 responses to “Saving Money on Driving, One Way or Another”

  1. Jenny

    My new job is located in the downtown area, so I opted to take public transportation (which costs $53/mo for unlimited rides) instead of paying for a monthly pass in the neighboring parking garage ($100/mo + $15 initial fee). It takes me about 10 minutes to walk to the bus stop, and if I catch the bus right away, it can take about 20 minutes to get to work. Driving would take me about 20 minutes one-way. Now I only drive on weekends, and I average about 1.5 tanks of gas per month. I have yet to gas up in July.

    CONs of riding the bus/train
    Sweating when I get to the bus stop
    Walking to bus stop and getting jumped on (while wearing a white shirt) by a dirty dog on the way to work
    Erratic bus and train schedule
    Smelly bums

    Save $135/mo (and contribute to debt snowball)
    Not add miles to my car
    Satisfaction of knowing I’m taking public transit
    Not getting stuck in traffic
    Listening and enjoying my iPod

  2. childfreelife

    Though I agree with your sleeping plans, usually a student/college bus pass is a good deal cheaper than the 3 dollars a day for the bus. Even buying tickets or monthly bus passes that are not subsidized by work or school is cheaper than the daily fees.

    You might also check into reducing the insurance coverage on either your or the boyfriends cars to “for pleasure” since you are not driving it to work everyday. The monthly insurance cost might go down, mine did.

    I don’t know about your city, but in Portland OR and Vancouver WA, there are express buses that don’t make as many stops. They only run during the morning and evening hours, no midday or night runs. And usually they are much faster!

    I work in Portland and live in Vancouver, my commute is less than an hour by bus and train. By car, considering traffic, my commute would be about the same.

    childfreelife’s last blog post..Happiness

  3. Laura

    We’ve been carpooling with friends on weekends. The bus line did not go by my old job, so I don’t really use public transport.

  4. michelle

    We’ve been fortunate with our commutes – I ride the train and have a pass from work, and Hubby has a company truck. But for all other driving we take my more economical car and try to run errands all at once, or really think about the importance of leaving the house. Can something wait and be picked up on the way home from work? Also, working harder on selling things on eBay and Craigslist to earn gas $$.

    michelle’s last blog post..THE DIFFERENCE

  5. Odd Lot

    One great way to save that most people take for granted is to accelerate slower and lower your cruising speeds on the highway. I know it sounds boring, but driving like your grandparents will save you 35% fuel… so if you’re spending about $400 per month in gas, that’s $140 back in your pocket.

    How much time does accelerating like a maniac save when you’re going from traffic light to traffic light anyway? Zero time usually. And unless your commute is a brutal 2+ hours, does 75 mph get you home that much faster than 65 mph? Not really.

    Great post and best of luck with that car, it sounds like a lemon! I feel your pain, mine makes frequent trips to the repair shop but at least it’s paid for.

    Odd Lot

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