for release Friday October 21, 2005
by Melodie Davis
Slow Down: Eight Ways to Save Some Dough
My husband was on a new kick this past summer, even before gas prices went over $3 a gallon. He began driving a lot slower.
He kept saying gas was going to hit three bucks a gallon before Christmas. I didn’t argue, but inside I said, no way. Ever the optimist, I really couldn’t imagine it. That was before the hurricanes.
Instead of pushing the speed limit and “taking the extra five” that so many motorists assume the police officers will allow before chasing you down, he voluntarily cut his normal speed to about 5 mph under the posted speed limit.
Let me tell you, he almost drove me crazy going slower but I have to admit he has the right idea. “As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.21 per gallon for gas,” says the website www.fueleconomy.gov
You have to know my husband to understand how revolutionary this behavior is for him. He always pushed the speed limit—not usually breaking it, but just exceeding it to the “allowable” limit. (Technically maybe that’s breaking it.) When we were younger, driving over the mountainous roads we have in these parts was almost like a race: pushing to keep his speed up, passing cars whenever possible, and fuming when it wasn’t.
One of the things that transformed him was listening to people bemoan the high price of gas, and then watching them continue to drive SUVS, huge trucks, vans, or cars 75 and 80 mph down the Interstate. One day he heard someone griping at the pump about the high price, who then proceeded to roar out of the gas station surely burning extra fuel.
You cannot do anything about the rising and fluctuating price of gas. But, you can change other things that will help save money today and, ultimately, save gas for the future.
Perhaps some of these things seem obvious, but if you look around you on the road, they’re not obvious to a great many drivers who are still speeding, gunning it, and braking hard. It is either immaturity, bad habits, or people just don’t care.
Eight habits that will immediately save you money:
1. Quit jack rabbit starts. Start off slow.
2. Don’t slam on the brakes at the last minute at stop lights.
3. Maintenance: keep tires properly inflated, air filters clean and engine tuned up.
4. Adopt a rule of never making a special trip to the grocery store to get something for a recipe. Adapt it or change your menu instead.
5. Combine trips everywhere you can, even if it means getting somewhere a half hour or even an hour early. You can always use the waiting time to read, walk (exercise), pray or sleep.
6. If you have the opportunity, trade in a gas guzzler for a more efficient car.
7. Check gas prices before you buy. If you have Internet access check to find out the cheapest gas in town. (If you don’t have Internet access, check with a family member or friend who does.) A good Internet site with prices for both Canada and the U.S., is http://www.gasbuddy.com/
8. And don’t forget the major way to save: go slower. Ultimately, we’re dealing with something that is in limited supply. Oil will eventually run out. We can support measures to find alternatives to gasoline, along with conserving every way we can. The behavior of humans around shortages does not give me much cause for hope, but smart people will conserve knowing that ultimately there will be more left for the future. This is not a case of a store running out of milk before a snowstorm, or a station running out of gas in a hurricane, but the earth running out of oil. God said that humans were to be caretakers of this great earth. We are not doing our job.
The other benefit of slowing down, which I have observed in my husband, is that he is less stressed driving, less aggressive, and more laid back. Now that I’ve gotten used to it, I really appreciate seeing the countryside from a little slower speed!
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Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
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