Wanted: Fuel Counselor

A co-worker of mine only buys $15 of gas at a time. She’s been doing this since gas was 98 cents, and $15 used to go a lot further. It used to fill up the entire tank. She still pays the same amount when she fills up because it is psychologically easier on her.

This morning I looked at my car’s gas gauge and wondered if I could make it through the week with only one-third a tank of gas. I was relieved when I did the math. If I only drive to and from work, I’ll make it with two gallons to spare.

The topic was fresh on my mind, having just read the nationwide AAA gas price survey. The report was disturbing.

Nebraska has the most expensive gas in the nation – their average is $3.34 for a gallon of gas – 29 cents above the national average of $3.05. Rounding out the top 10 are Wisconsin, Indiana, Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, Kansas and Iowa

South Carolina has the cheapest AAA gas ranking, at $2.83, followed by New Jersey, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.

I know that on Friday it will cost me more than $50 to fill up my car. Something I know is inevitable, but it will nonetheless ruin my TGIF celebration. I’m making alterations to my lifestyle this week by only eating meals I prepare myself. No take out or dining out until I fill up my vehicle.

Pinching pennies is a necessity because I make the same amount that I did when gas was $1 a gallon cheaper. I’m thankful I now work 12 miles from the office instead of the 40 miles I used to drive. Moving closer to work was a lifestyle change as much as it was an economic decision.

If gas prices keep escalating I might forgo asking for a raise and ask for gas vouchers instead.

What about you? Do you fill ’er up or only purchase a set dollar amount? Are you changing your lifestyle to adjust to paying more at the pump? Looking for work closer to home? Riding your bike?


  1. Kate S.

    This was also a factor in where we bought our home. While it’s not as close to our jobs as it could be, it closer to everything else. For a while we were carpooling to work even though it meant more time in the car for my lovely husband.
    We still drive my more fuel-efficient car almost exclusively on weekends to cut down on gas. We try to limit our trips and drive with friends when we’re going out. Of course, that also makes parking easier and cheaper. I would love to be able to walk or ride a bicycle to work–there are two excellent schools about four blocks from home and I’ve been trying to get a job teaching at either.
    To me, my quality of life is important. I would rather pay more for a smaller house so that I can spend less time in my car. And I can totally see asking for some kind of fuel allowance instead of a raise. Depending on your commute, it would probably make a more significant difference in your day-to-day finances.

  2. Mike Glasgow

    This is rather long, and may sound like a lecture. All I ask is you think about some of the things I mention here.
    Most people seem to drive like they are trying to make up the fifteen minutes they are late, when they are late before they leave. Most people also don’t actually check their fuel economy, but take the auto manufacturer’s word for what the fuel economy of their vehicle is supposed to be. Couple these two factors together, and the majority of the drivers are driving at least five to ten mph over the speed limit, accelerating hard away from traffic lights, and braking hard when they get to the next light. They also follow and pull over in front of other vehicles waaaaay too close. When I set my speed so I can maintain a two second space between myself and the vehicle in front of me, I can often leave the cruise control set. Fuel economy will be better at lower speeds, with smoother starts and stops. As long as people continue to buy the high priced fuel, the prices will continue to be high. I suggest using a calculator to see how little difference your speed makes on travel time. If you save ten per cent on fuel economy, it doesn’t make a big difference each time you fill up, but in a year, it can mean a savings of several hundred or more dollars. Driving at the speed limit or less, eliminates the possibility of expensive speeding tickets. Maintaining a larger following distance will decrease the possibility of an accident. If you are doing sixty mph and 150 feet behind the vehicle in front of you, it will be two seconds before you hit the trash someone in front of you just ran over(like a tire carcass, blocks of wood, ladders, and all the other stuff you see laying in the middle of the road). That isn’t much time for see and avoid. My personal philosophy has become “Never drive faster than you can see, unless you are willing to bet your or someone else’s life on it.” I fly airplanes, hot air balloons, hang gliders, and paragliders. I have more than one thousand parachute jumps, including several jumps off of fixed objects. I have driven a truck as a civilian contractor to the US military in Iraq. The most dangerous thing I do is driving on the streets and highways in the United States.

  3. Summer

    My husband and I do the same thing as Kate. His car is pretty much parked all weekend and every evening because mine gets better gas mileage. Now, if only I followed all the other tips Mike mentioned, I’d really save a lot on gas. I have started to be more conscious of the “rocket-launch” take off at green lights though.

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