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?
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.
- 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!