Save Money, Reduce Emissions, Drive Less

Gas prices are creeping up–just in time for summer.  Enviro Girl has cut back on her driving, she’s never been a fan of tooling around town in the Momvan mainly because she’d rather do a million other things.  Here are some of the ways she manages to drive less:

1.  Get shameless about carpooling with other parents.  Enviro Girl will mooch a ride for her kids if she knows another parent is heading past their house, she’ll offer to take turns driving to practices and birthday parties and Scout meetings.

2.  Bundle your errands to save gas money and time.  Enviro Girl’s youngest has karate on Monday afternoons, the dojo is located across the street from a grocery store and a hardware store.  Guess who grocery shops on Monday afternoons while she’s in town?  Likewise, running to the post office for stamps, grabbing library books and other such tasks get slotted into times when Enviro Girl already plans to be in town.  Instead of making two trips to town for a karate lesson and bringing her other son to the dime store for project supplies, she drops one kid at karate and then takes the other to the dime store in the same trip.  Sure, this means planning ahead and making a few sacrifices, but once you get in a rhythm of scheduling things, it’s easy to do.

3.  Route your errands.  Criss-crossing town wastes time and gas.  Cluster errands by location so you drive in a complete circle.

4.  Calling ahead insures you won’t waste a trip.  Phoning a store to see if they have green baseball socks beats driving across town to discover they don’t.  On the same token, Enviro Girl has become a fan of the Will Call window for events.  She’ll order tickets and leave them at the venue to pick up when she attends. This means no shipping fees and no risk of forgetting to bring the tickets to gain access to an event and saves a trip to the box office by conducting the entire transaction by phone.

5.  Price your travel.  Enviro Girl’s family planned a vacation to North Carolina’s Outer Banks.  Initially they’d planned to fly–but gas prices hit airlines as well.  Enviro Girl figured her family would spend nearly $2,000 on flights, plus baggage fees, rental fees for linens and towels and a car once they arrived.  Almost $2,500 total!  Then she got on Mapquest and calculated the cost of driving plus 2 hotel stays en route there and back.  Combined with the savings of baggage and rental fees, driving the Momvan to the Outer Banks would cost about $1,000.  Totally worth two extra travel days and more convenient in light of what they could pack in the Momvan vs. carry on luggage.

6.  Downsize your vehicle.  Enviro Girl’s household owns a minivan and a Ford Taurus.  The Taurus gets better mileage.  Whenever her family can manage it, they get around in the Taurus.

7.  Hoof it.  Or bike it or ride the bus.  Enviro Girl’s youngest kids walk to school, the oldest rides the bus.  They walk to baseball practice and to football games.  Now that the ice has melted, Enviro Girl bikes to her weekly gig at the school cafeteria a couple miles up the road.  She uses her bike to make the same trip to the bank and video store because those little trips in the Momvan do add up.  Plus, she gets exercise this way.

8.  Unload your car.  Your car uses more gas to bear more weight.  After bowling, Enviro Girl puts the bowling balls in the garage until next time.  No sense in paying to transport 60 extra pounds of weight.

9.  Maintain your vehicle.  Tire pressure, oil quality and air filtration all affect your car’s efficiency.  Find a reliable mechanic and spend the $30 every few months to address car maintenance.  You’ll recoup your savings every time.

10.  Stay home.  Seriously.  Instead of going out to eat when they’re home on a Saturday evening, Enviro Girl will throw dinner on the grill or stove.  Enviro Girl’s family will watch movies, play games, do puzzles or shoot basketballs instead of driving to find entertainment at Chuck E. Cheese or Marcus Cinemas.  They save those destinations for Very Special Treats.  By keeping things simple, her family saves money and learns to appreciate the little things, like getting a second Yahtzee.  They create better memories playing a family game of Around the World in their driveway than they ever do  in a crowded playland with a hundred other families.