Ten Tips for Saving Money on Gas

1 05 2008

As gas passes $3.50 per gallon and rapidly approaches $4.00 per gallon (or it’s already there…sorry CA), Mary and I can’t wait to move into our new house and cut our commute from 32 miles to 15. However in the meantime, we have taken measures to get the most out of our tanks of gas. So here are 10 tips that could help you increase those MPGs and decrease those gas bills!

1. Carpool. Mary and I are lucky enough to work at the same company, so it makes sense for us to carpool. By our calculation, we are saving at least $200 per month by this little step. Sure, it sucks sometimes when one of us has to work later, leaving the other with nothing to do, but we always remind each other how much money and time (Carpool lane) carpooling saves us.

2. Change the oil on time. Staying up to date on engine oil changes helps your car run better and get the most out of your gas. I make sure to change the oil in our Acura every 5,000 miles (Oil Co’s recommend 3,000 miles, car makers say 5,000), and every 7500 miles in our Volvo (synthetic oil).

3. Get a high performance air filter. K&N air filters are expensive, but they pay for themselves in the long run. They come with a 1 million mile warranty because you clean them instead of replace them, plus you can get up to 10% better gas mileage because they allow your engine to breathe better and give you better performance. I received 10% better gas mileage in my old Jeep when I put in a K&N filter. Note: Mr. Dave points out in the comments, that high performance filters are not recommended for some engines like the VW TDi engine.  Though if you have that engine you’re beating all of us on MPG anyway.

4. Inflate the tires. Making sure your tires are inflated to the recommended PSI will increase your gas mileage because a fully inflated tire offers less resistance when you are coasting.

5. Coast. If you have an onboard computer, have you ever set it to give you the instantaneous MPG? You will probably notice that when your foot is off the gas your MPG skyrockets. So if you see a read light ahead let off the gas, there is no need to speed to a stop, it’s just a waste of gas and you’ll have to replace your brakes sooner.

6. A/C or Windows Down? It’s summer, it’s hot, so what do you do? This all depends on what you are doing. If you are driving at highway speeds, roll the windows up and use the A/C, because the drag of the windows being down really hurts the gas mileage. Driving around town? Roll ‘em down!

7. Don’t carry around extra crap! Weight directly affects your gas mileage. The more stuff you have weighing down your car the worse MPG you get. So lose the golf clubs, toolbox, and other random stuff unless you need it.

8. Plan your routes. UPS saved millions of dollars a year in gas by rerouting their trucks to limit the number of left turns, and you can save money too! Plan your routes in the most efficient way possible. Generally right turns are faster and they use less gas waiting at lights than left turns, so why not try it out!

9. Get a gas card! Many credit card companies offer cash back on gas purchases, so why not!? You’re going to be spending the money anyway, so you might as well earn up to 5% cash back. Or even better get a gas company card, brand loyalty pays you in savings!

10. Don’t use E85. What? But the government said it’s going to be our saving grace and I want to help save the environment! I’m all for saving the environment when it is in my financial interest (like compact florescent lights that will pay for themselves), but if it will cost me more money, I’m less likely to do it. E85 is cheaper, and your car may run on it, but according to AutoTrader it contains 27% less energy than 87 Octane (the cheap stuff). That means you get 27% less MPG using E85. The only time it’s in your financial interest is when E85 is less than 73% of the cost of 87 Octane. At my local station, E85 is about 30-40 cents cheaper per gallon than 87 Octane. $3.20 / $3.50 is 91%… not in your financial interest.

I hope you can put these ideas to good use, and if you’ve got any more, feel free to leave them in the comments!


Trouble Getting Dates?…Try Haggling

19 04 2008

Note: At the suggestion of a reader I am splitting the post into two separate pieces.  Stay tuned for 10 Steps to Haggling!

When I was younger I had very low self esteem, there was no reason for me to be shy and scared to talk to girls, but I was.  I was scared of them saying no, or even worse, laughing at me.  I’m not a bad looking guy, but this fear was very real.  My older brothers would try to help me with this by bribing me to go up to girls and ask them out, but I only successfully did this once…and by successfully I mean I actually asked the girl out; she said no.

The only reason I met my wife is because she had a mutual friend set us up on a blind date after seeing me in a picture.  I would have never “sacked up” and asked her out on my own, but considering I was put in a situation where it would have been very awkward, and quite frankly rude, for me not to, I asked for her number and waited the obligatory 3 days to call her.  Ladies- for an insight into a guys mind during this “waiting period” watch the movie Swingers.

When I first started to haggle I would get the same knots in my stomach as I would when I would be scared to ask a girl out or tell her that I liked her.  I was scared, scared that the salesman or manager might think less of me, scared they would say know, scared they would be offended.  Why was I scared?  I really don’t know, I never had a situation that scarred me, but I think it all stems from my historically low self esteem (now practically gone thanks to my wife!).

Today when I was haggling for a new pair of over-priced running shoes, I happen to be haggling with a cute woman, and it all clicked!  The nervous feeling I would get when wanting to ask a girl out is the same nervous feeling I get when haggling…except haggling is way easier.  Haggling is a confidence builder!

I rarely get turned down when I haggle, and when I do it’s never a big deal, I leave with my pride, and confidence still in tact that I tried, so I have no regrets.  This has built my confidence up greatly.  That is confidence that I could easily turn around into “technique” and confidence for picking up women (not that I ever would, I am very happily married).  I will have to find someone to try this technique on, but I’m positive it will work.  Haggling is the best confidence builder I’ve had…besides getting married.

I implore you all to at least try haggling, whether you get a discount or not it ends up being a rush so it feels good afterwards, but when it does work and you save some money, it builds your confidence, and you get that rush.  Also, as an added bonus, if the salesperson is a member of the opposite sex you can subtly flirt and complement the person to help you haggle!  Pretty soon, haggling will be no big deal, and you can turn that confidence and flirting into picking up members of the opposite sex!

As a disclaimer, use discretion, it may hurt your chances if you haggle on a first date, you don’t want to come across as cheap, even though there is a distinct difference, not everyone understands it.  Later on you can show your frugalness.