The Cost of Driving: Save Gas, Time, And Money

Allison Kade
Posted

There’s no lure like finding the best deal in town. And gas prices are no exception.

The scene: You’re on the prowl, and end up driving an extra 10 miles before you find that holy grail of gas prices. Say you get a deal for $3.12 per gallon, saving five cents a gallon. If your car gets 22 miles per gallon, you’ll have saved 80 cents…but spent over $1.40 in gas driving to get that deal on gas. (It’s an ironic son-of-a-bitch.) This isn’t to mention the time wasted and the increase in your carbon footprint.

Gas prices are higher now than they have been in about three years, and some predict that they’ll only keep increasing. The current national average is about $3.17 per gallon, up from $2.64 last year. That means a 5 cent savings is going to be less impactful as prices go up, and you’ll be spending more to find it. In other words, don’t drive around aimlessly trying to find the best gas price.

How Much Do You Pay For Each Mile?

The Cost of Driving

Miles per gallon

Cost of gas per gallon

0.00
Cost per mile
0.00
Cost per hour *
* Based on driving 35 mph, the EPA estimate for average Americans

If you’re not sure of your car’s fuel efficiency, estimate it here.

This is how we calculated what you’re paying for each mile of gas: 1/fuel efficiency x cost of gas.

So, if your car gets 22 mpg and gas costs $3.12 per gallon, you’re actually paying about 14 cents per mile. Drive 40 miles roundtrip to work, and you’ll spending about $5.60 a day. New motivation to carpool, maybe?

Is It Worth The Gas To Return That Book?

Sure, you don’t like the Dean Koontz paperbacks your dad keeps giving you, but is it worthwhile to drive 30 miles roundtrip to visit Borders to get back $7? Use our Time Value Calculator along with the Gas Cost Calculator above to figure out what driving around costs you.

If you spend $10 in “time cost” and $4 in gas costs, your $7 refund costs you $14.

Even If You Don’t Drive…

A hike in gas prices will almost certainly trickle down to public transportation because of fuel costs to keep the system running. Even if you have an unlimited commuter pass, we recommend thinking about where you’re going, when, and how—before you jump on the subway.

Cheap Gas, Without Wasting Gas.

If saving the extra few cents per gallon gives you a strong sense of satisfaction, check out a free app called Where, which lists nearby gas prices based on GPS (incidentally, it also suggests local restaurants and entertainment venues). From what we’ve seen, Where has broader reach and is more accurate than its competitors, though no app we’ve found is 100% foolproof.

Bottom Line.

  • Carpool when possible.
  • Bundle returns together to maximize on your trip costs.
  • Plan out your errands in advance so that you can group together activities that are close proximity. This will ensure you’re getting the best value out of your time, gas, money—and your own energy!
  • kodemonki

    “If you spend $10 in u201ctime costu201d and $4 in gas costs, your $7 refund costs you $14.” Why wouldn’t this cost you $7?

    • Kitsu

      I think this was mistyped- after all, you would be paying that $7 “refund” to your gas cost!
      14-7=7

  • http://neatfreakwannabe.blogspot.com Jenna

    I think the calculator might be broken – I tried the same stats (22 mpg & $3.12/gal) as in the article and the calculator gives a result of $0.01 per mile.

  • Joy

    Yes, the calculator is definitely broken.

  • MariaLin

    Sorry, everyone – we’re having technical difficulties and are fixing the calc right now. Please check back soon – it’ll be working shortly!

  • MariaLin

    Hi all – the calculator is back up and running! Please try it out and let us know what you think…sorry for the tech snafu!

  • Anonymous

    This is making me think I should definitely not run all the errands the way I do! thanks for spelling this out for me… So smart.

  • Flowerpounder

    No need to run all over town – just check online for gas prices of stations that are on your way to or from home and get it at the best price. I also never make special trips just to return something -just wait until you are already in the area of the store or are returning there for another reason ! Also I do many errands all in one trip to town unless they are to far apart from where I’m going.

  • Andrea

    The cost of driving activity doesn’t seem to be working.

    • mb

      seems to be working for me. maybe give it another go.

  • Davis465

    I just found some more ideas also on http://savecreatively.com/SaveOnGasFastFindFuelEfficiency.aspx for saving gas and getting further on 1 fill-up. It was called Save On Gas Fast. Find Fuel Efficiency. Every idea sure helps with the prices going up and up.

  • Davis465

    I just found some more ideas also on http://savecreatively.com/SaveOnGasFastFindFuelEfficiency.aspx for saving gas and getting further on 1 fill-up. It was called Save On Gas Fast. Find Fuel Efficiency. Every idea sure helps with the prices going up and up.

  • Davis465

    I just found some more ideas also on http://savecreatively.com/SaveOnGasFastFindFuelEfficiency.aspx for saving gas and getting further on 1 fill-up. It was called Save On Gas Fast. Find Fuel Efficiency. Every idea sure helps with the prices going up and up.

  • Meg

    Make a list of the errands you have to do before leaving the house. Combine them into single trips. For example, drop off the library books on the way to the dry cleaners, then go to the grocery store.

    Switch to online banking. The only time I go to the bank is to use the ATM or go to the safe deposit box. I do all my banking online. Saves money on stamps too.

    Make sure your car is running properly. Change the oil when needed, check the tire pressure, etc.

  • Meg

    Make a list of the errands you have to do before leaving the house. Combine them into single trips. For example, drop off the library books on the way to the dry cleaners, then go to the grocery store.

    Switch to online banking. The only time I go to the bank is to use the ATM or go to the safe deposit box. I do all my banking online. Saves money on stamps too.

    Make sure your car is running properly. Change the oil when needed, check the tire pressure, etc.

  • http://profiles.google.com/momofaca Anna Hilton

    We live in West Des Moines, Iowa and we are a family of 5, with only 1 car, a 2009 Honda Fit. We downsized 2 years ago from 2 trucks and 2 Jeeps and a van to this small, fuel efficient car and have never looked back! You forgot to mention in the article, other ways to commute that will save both gas and carbon footprints!! I am a stay at home mom of our 3 kids, who go to school within 8 blocks of our home and my husband is a manager at our local Wal-Mart, which is 3.5 miles away from us, and he commutes year round by bike and the kids and I walk to school as much as possible!!! It’s a little chilly at times, but even with a small, fuel efficient car, our gas prices are currently at $3.79 and rising!! I have a gas budget of only $50 for every 2 weeks(per pay period) and I try and make that stretch as much as we can, so we have extra around in case we decide to take an impromptu road trip, we have extra gas money just waiting to be used!! I agree that when I have to use the car to run errands, I always plan my errands around where I will be that day and decide what can wait a few days to be finished! We also have our nearby grocery store less than a mile away, so we take our bikes and burley carts/bags hooked on the bikes also, to do our shopping as much as possible in the warmer months! Life is so much more simplified if you can worry less about 1 thing that is always looming over us, and it’s the price of gas and how we’re gonna save every cent to make life easier! Thanks so much for the article and I look for more in the future!!!

  • http://profiles.google.com/momofaca Anna Hilton

    We live in West Des Moines, Iowa and we are a family of 5, with only 1 car, a 2009 Honda Fit. We downsized 2 years ago from 2 trucks and 2 Jeeps and a van to this small, fuel efficient car and have never looked back! You forgot to mention in the article, other ways to commute that will save both gas and carbon footprints!! I am a stay at home mom of our 3 kids, who go to school within 8 blocks of our home and my husband is a manager at our local Wal-Mart, which is 3.5 miles away from us, and he commutes year round by bike and the kids and I walk to school as much as possible!!! It’s a little chilly at times, but even with a small, fuel efficient car, our gas prices are currently at $3.79 and rising!! I have a gas budget of only $50 for every 2 weeks(per pay period) and I try and make that stretch as much as we can, so we have extra around in case we decide to take an impromptu road trip, we have extra gas money just waiting to be used!! I agree that when I have to use the car to run errands, I always plan my errands around where I will be that day and decide what can wait a few days to be finished! We also have our nearby grocery store less than a mile away, so we take our bikes and burley carts/bags hooked on the bikes also, to do our shopping as much as possible in the warmer months! Life is so much more simplified if you can worry less about 1 thing that is always looming over us, and it’s the price of gas and how we’re gonna save every cent to make life easier! Thanks so much for the article and I look for more in the future!!!

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • http://www.acecashexpress.com/payday-loan-news/ Ritu Mehta, Editor

     This is a great article that will benefit may of us who are trying to evaluate how our lifestyle has to change with rising gas prices.  I live in the DFW area and public transportation is nto a real option for most of us on a daily basis.  This theme is on my mind a lot as it costs over 55 to fill my car every week!  This content is not only useful for cost savings but for overall emissions management !  Great job.

  • Imapeppertwo

     Great advice, but I don’t think you have to use foul language to make your point. (At the beginning of your article you say it is an ironic sob.) This was my first experience on your site, and maybe it is a one-time occurrence, but it makes me leery to want to read more. Sorry, I am just fed up with bad language everywhere I turn.

    • Vicky

      i swear every time I have to pay for the gas here in CA.and I use more the son of a bitch!!! :-)

    • Vicky

      i swear every time I have to pay for the gas here in CA.and I use more the son of a bitch!!! :-)