How Much Does it Cost Every Time you Get Into Your Car?
I recently found myself living out in the countryside near Melbourne Australia. And aside from gas being referred to as “petrol” among other Australian idiosyncrasies, living out here could be equated with life in the countryside just about anywhere:
- Anything within 50 kilometers (31 miles) is considered “close”
- You have to drive to get anywhere (sometimes including your own front gate)
- The cost of living can be more expensive (depending on how judicious and creative you are)
And last but certainly not least:
- You will spend a small fortune on gas. Petrol. Whatever.
Here in Australia, if the price of gas is much below $1.50/liter (the equivalent of about $5.68 /gallon), people practically dance in the streets with joy; it regularly hovers at a price point much higher. And so one day driving back from running some errands in town on a week when I had traveled into town more than I would have liked, I glanced down in shock at my gas gauge: empty. It seemed that I had consumed more gas in the last week than I had realized.
This led me to a minor budgeting revelation: Every time I travel into town, I spend almost $10 in gas. This was a shock to the system; if there was a bus, I would have happily taken it to be sure. But out here, no such thing exists. (Such is the price you pay to live in the country; a price happily paid by most who live here).
This revelation led to an immediate change in attitude towards driving:
- Carpooling is now an active goal, if not a necessity (not only for the environment, but also better value when driving).
- A trip into town doesn’t happen unless at least three separate and important tasks can be achieved.
- Mail order is king!
When I started to even more closely examine the cost of gas/petrol, I realized how much more there is to driving: insurance, maintenance, and wear & tear for starters. If I averaged out the cost of these factors and added them into each trip into town, my excursion shoots up even further to approximately $13.
$13 just to go into town; to get some groceries, make a social call, or see the dentist. That’s not pennies. And here’s the corker: Although I live in the country, town is not all that far away, and it is all highway driving.
How many people who live in the city (or a bedroom community) commute 20 miles or more to work, and in stop & go traffic no less (which increases the cost of gas and wear & tear)?
How many people who live in the city (and commute in their cars) actually pay higher insurance premiums to do so?
How many people who live either in the city or the country don’t think about all this every time they get into their car?
So the next time you say you’ll just “hop in the car” to nip off somewhere, think about how much that little trip will cost you. You may decide in the end that the trip doesn’t have to happen today, or that maybe you can kill two birds with one stone by adding another errand to your list.
At the very least, it pays (literally) to figure out for yourself how much it costs every time you get in your car. Only then can you make a rational frugal decision as to whether or not putting the key in the ignition this time will fit into your budget, and not just a life of convenience.