I started thinking about this recently as gas prices have been on the rise yet again. I am fortunate that my office is just 4 miles from my home, so most days I drive back for lunch. I get to connect with my wife and my two children while they are still home for a few more years.
Recently I got to thinking about how much it costs me each time to drive that same route twice per day and if it was really worth it. My car averages a decent 30 miles per gallon (mpg), so at the national average of $3.48 per gallon, a 4 mile trip costs me $.46 or $.92 round trip; and I only live 4 miles away! If I drive home 5 days per week (20 days per month) then it costs me $18.40 each month for lunch.
Of course there are trade-offs here, the first being that I cannot put a price on the extra time I get to spend with my family each day. Also, how much would it cost if I were to visit a restaurant each day? That would certainly be more than if I brought my lunch to work with me.
A recent poll by ABC News showed the average worker commutes 16 miles one-way. At the current average fuel economy for a new car of 20 mpg, the round-trip cost just to drive to and from work each day is $5.57. Monthly it would cost $111.40 just to drive once each day to and from work. If you were to drive home for lunch as well, your gas bill will double to $222.80!
As American, do we ever think about this? Experience has shown that many people do not. With the ever increasing cost of fuel, it is time we start to realize the impact our activities have on our budgets. Visiting the grocery store on the way home from work can save an extra trip. So can carpooling or asking the neighbors to pick up something for us while they’re out and vice versa.
None of these ideas are convenient, but if you really want to save some money, we must stop acting like the consumers we are and begin doing things that other countries have been doing for years.
Could you walk or ride your bike to the store? Could you use a reel mower to cut the grass? Do you need a minivan (worse fuel consumption) for you and one child? Begin by starting small and watch the savings really add up in your budget!
Here is the formula to determine how much your trip costs you:
(Miles driven)(Price per gallon of fuel) / (Avg. mpg) = cost of your trip
Example: (4 miles) ($3.48) / (30 mpg) = $.46
What does your trip cost you? Leave your comment below...