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1) Running the AC uses less gas than driving with the windows open. This one I buy for highway driving. I have a hard time imagining that slipping along at 35 MPH creates enough drag to make this true. In any case, I have found that most days running the vent set for cool allows for me to leave the windows up (less drag) but not run the AC compressor. Win-win, as they say.

2) Clean out the trunk. Obviously. More weight in the vehicle means more gas used. Easy one.

3) Quick accelerations/stops use more fuel than coasting. Duh. Also, drive slower (this one is hard for me!) – you use 11 percent less gas at 65 MPH than you do at 75 MPH.

My additions:

1) Check your tires. Properly inflated tires are much better for gas mileage.

2) Tune-up the car. Air filter, oil changes, plugs and wires, vacuum hoses….check them all. A smooth running vehicle will not only save you gas money, but will also extend the life of the vehicle.

I have to say, my gas prices have increased by 40% in the last few months, and only by that much because:

1) I cut out unnecessary trips. Including my sanity-keeping drives on the weekends. This one has been hard, but I've been supplementing with Odee's brandy. ;)

2) I've been taking alternate routes to/from work. I've narrowed down to the most fuel-efficient way is my “normal” route down to work – full of construction, but average speed is still at around 50MPH and if I can learn to keep my foot out of the gas pedal it will be even better for mpg – and a different, actually LONGER route home that is wide open and almost no braking, just highway driving. I'm once again getting 330 miles out of my tank, as opposed to the 300 I was squeezing out before. I can get up to 350, but don't like to push it with the kids in there.


1) I've been looking at changing my walking pattern, too. Now, I drive down to one of two close parks and take a little walk. I clocked the mileage to certain streets along the way there, and now just need to decide which is more important: seeing pretty things while I walk or saving gas money and just walking to a pre-designated street and back. So far, scenery is winning, but should things stay this high for too much longer, I'll be enjoying the housing communities behind the building more than the little creek or playgrounds I usually walk past.

2) I also, once again and expecting disappointment, checked with the bus systems in the area to see if there was a route that could get me to work in a 12 hour window, within a mile radius from work (I'm willing to forgo a lunch walk if I can get some stroll-time in to/from the bus). The answer is no. Just….no. There is no routes that come close to that time frame. GACK.

3) Ride sharing. There are several people that live near where I work, and work with me. Problem with this arrangement: The kids. I'd still have to take the kids to daycare, THEN meet up with someone. And if one of the kids were to pull up lame or sick, I wouldn't have a ride home in the middle of the day to take care of it. I haven't figured out a way around this one yet (even with a bus – if it ran every hour, I could catch a ride). The most promising possibility, riding with the receptionist, has two basic flaws: she also has children AND she has a second job she works some nights near here, 25 miles from where we live. ;(

<sigh> Mostly, I'm frustrated with my inability to stop the increase in this portion of the budget. I could totally use that extra $40 a month for the snowball payment, or in savings (lawd knows, as much as I hate to admit it, that I will someday need a different vehicle), or for *ahem* travel purposes. Right now I'm working with an already obscenely tight budget, so I'm trying to squeeze blood from a turnip here. There are only a few “quick” places that I could cut costs:

- The cable bill (I can cut off VOIP phone for $40 a month, and since I won't need the “premium speed” cable at that point anymore, drop that down to lower speed at $10 a month savings)(and no, cutting it all together is NOT an option, as this is my father's house and not my decision)

- Storage costs. This one bites, and takes an awful lot of effort for a little bit of savings. Rough estimates have me being able to save $20 a month by moving the stuff to a smaller unit. The alternative, which actually hurts more but save more, too, is to store the stuff <gulp> in DN's garage and pay HIM $50 a month for the privilege. And not be the only one with access to my stuff. This one has been tough. Little Sis and BIL have agreed to help me move the stuff to a smaller unit one weekend, but that entails finding a weekend that none of us are working OT. So far, this has been damn near impossible.

- Spending. I'm eeking by on $100 a month in discretionary, and truly a lot of that goes to <drumroll please> groceries I don't account for. Like a gallon of milk bought on the way home, a stop at Target for diapers, that kind of thing. I could probably tighten this by tossing all $250 of grocery money and $100 in spending together and taking it down to $300 total, but as I am purchasing everything but meat products for the household of three adults and two kids, this too seems impossible.

So that's all. Just venting and thinking out loud a little.


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