Thursday, August 14, 2008

$4.00 per Gallon For Gas - A Positive Catalyst For Change

I recently read a story in Newsweek magazine about a woman just like me - a mother/taxi driver/scheduler/helper. Jennifer Perrow parked her mini-van and presented a challenge to her family. She made a game out of seeing how long they could go without buying a tank of gas. To her surprise, her family jumped at the chance to be creative.

Here's what happened:

-Now she bikes with her children to swim lessons -She borrows books from friends instead of running out to the bookstore - Her family eats out at the variety of restaurants within one mile of her home - She jogs in her neighborhood instead of driving to the gym to hop on the treadmill - Her children carpool to school both there and back - And she says her dogs are loving the increase in exercise because she's taking them on walks to reduce her stress.

Jennifer is not the only one changing her lifestyle and parking her car as much as possible. According to a survey by AARP, leisure and vacation driving is down this summer. In my home state of Nevada, AARP reports that leisure driving is down by 6.7% and people are using alternative forms of transportation more frequently.

Networks and stories of people who've given up their cars completely are popping up on the Internet. Here are a few: Don't Drive, Living Without a Car: My New American Responsibility, Google Groups Frugal Living.

If going car-less is too much of a stretch, others have led the way by parking their rides and hiding the keys in the freezer (much like people do with credit cards) to reduce the temptation of jetting to the 7-11. And then there are families like mine who dream of using our car less but we don't know where to start.

For people like us there is a new book by Chris Balish, How To Live Well Without Owning A Car. This is my next purchase at the bookstore. He promises to show me how to save money and the environment by parking my car. I look forward to some practical advice for a family of seven.


Todd McGlaun said...

Actually Honey, we have been driving less this year. I just did a comparison on how much gas we used per day last year vs how much we have been using per day this year. Last year, our per day gas consumption from both our vehicles was 2.963 gallons per day (this of course includes a couple driving vacations where we used 20+ gallons in a single day driving several hundred miles). This year, so far our gas consumption for both vehicles has been 2.347 gallons per day - that's a 21% drop in average daily usage from last year to this year.

Besides the positive impact on the environment that makes, it is also a pretty nice impact on our budget. Despite the fact that gas has risen by approximately 25% or more over prices a year ago... our average expense per day for gas is only 2% higher than it was last year!

That's not to say we can't do more. I would love to drop our average daily consumption another 20% before the year is out. I'm looking forward to biking to work as soon as the temperatures cool a bit and I'm interested in what you learn from the book. Still, we're doing a pretty good job so far.

For anyone interested, I was able to easily calculate our gas usage for this year and last because I track our gas expenditures on - one of the local websites. They have a nifty fuel logbook tool for tracking gas purchases.

Love you.

Fin said...

I guess you can order the book from Amazon so you don't have to drive to the bookstore to get it. :-)

You always do a great job with your graphics, love this one.

Lisa McGlaun said...


I love it when you comment on my blog..makes me feel really good. I didn't know we were making such good progress on our gas milage. Thanks for posting all this good information.

Love you!!!

Lisa McGlaun said...


Actually, I drove to Borders today to get the book. Had to go out to buy a birthday present for my daughter's friend. But when I got there they had to order Balish's book. They didn't have it in stock. So to save at least one trip, I had them mail it to my house.

So, I sort of did the efficient I'm trying.


Chief said...

I've saved quite a bit of fuel in the last few months by "Hypermiling." Basically by slowing down and anticipating stops/slowdowns one can save large amounts of fuel. There are other more advanced techniques that save even more.

Lisa McGlaun said...


I think I saw something about hypermiling on your blog. I'll go back and read it more throughly. Thanks for pointing it out.


Chief said...

Thanks for checking my blog out... I do keep a tally of my progress every month or so. For more info, I would direct you to the post that examines the impetus for my hypermiling (and blogging): $4 Gas

Thanks again!

Linda Lou said...

My kids are 29 and 30 and neither of them have a car. They live in Albany, NY, which has a decent public transportation system and they take the bus to work. No car payments, no maintenance, no insurance... My son has access to his band's van when he needs it, so that helps.

Now that I think of it, I had a kid before I had a car!