# Well this is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?

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# Well this is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching, or one of the links below, can help.

# Well this is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching, or one of the links below, can help.

# Is Saving 2¢ a Gallon Worth It?

Dan Knight - Feb. 2006

Do you know someone who will drive clear across town to save 2-3¢ on a gallon of gas? Do you wonder if that makes any sense at all?

That's what we're looking at in today's column.

In our last issue, we looked at the overall cost of owning a car on both an annual basis and per mile driven. We provided all the information you need to create your own spreadsheet and calculate your own figures.

In my case, owning a 2002 Taurus that I hope to use for three years, the average cost comes out to 27-30¢ per mile. We looked at other scenarios where that figure could break the \$2 per mile mark.

Knowing your own average cost per mile driven is a key factor for today's column.

### The Lowball Number

The lowball number is easy to figure. If gas costs \$2.25 per gallon and you get 25 MPG, it costs 9¢ a mile.

If you can save 2¢ per gallon on 15 gallons, that 30¢ (no, it doesn't sound like much). Working with the lowball number you could drive an extra 3 miles and come out a few pennies ahead.

But the lowball number is just for gas.

The true number is the one we calculated in our previous column. If it costs me 30¢ per mile to own and use my car, driving a half-mile out of my way and back again to save 30¢ is just breaking even. If your cost is 50¢ per mile, going more than a few blocks out of your way could cost you more than you're saving.

### The Factors

The factors you need to determine whether it's worth the drive are how many gallons of gas you need, how much you will save per gallon, how many extra miles you'll drive, and your car's average cost per mile.

Multiply the number of gallons you think you need by the number of pennies you will save per gallon. If you need 10 gallons and can save a nickel, that 50¢ less you'll be spending to fill your tank. 5 gallons but save a dime? 50¢ again. 25 gallons at 2¢ - the same 50¢.

Take your vehicle's cost per mile. Divide what you'll save by your average cost per mile. In my case (27-30¢ per mile), I come out ahead if I drive less than 1.6 extra miles to save 50¢. If I'm making a 3 mile round trip to save 50¢ on a fill-up, I actually end up 30-40¢ behind.

Crunch your own numbers, but the more you'll be saving and the more gas you need, the more you can afford to drive out of your way. The higher your personal cost per mile, the less driving you can justify, and your vehicle's MPG rating is part of the picture.

The best rule is to buy at the best price along your route. If you're not putting on any extra miles, then you're really saving some money.

The important thing is to get past the initial savings. Fifty cents a week only comes out to \$13 a year, so don't sweat a few cents a gallon. A nickel, maybe. A dime, probably. But not a few pennies.

You can't just look at the little bit you'll save on a fill-up, and you don't want to use the lowball figure (say 9¢ per mile) because your costs are actually a lot higher than that.

It's been ingrained in me from childhood to look for the best price, and for years I'd drive 4 extra miles to tank up at the best priced station in town. I'd save 2-3¢ a gallon, put 20 gallons in the minivan, and think I'd done good by trimming 40-60¢ from the budget.

Now that I've crunched the numbers, I don't make that mistake any longer. If I can save a bit along my normal route, fine and dandy. If not, saving a few pennies times 12 or 13 gallons isn't a lot of money.

In fact, if everyone is lined up at the cheap station, I'll drive a block or two, pay a penny or two more, and be on my way a lot sooner and with a lot less stress. I think that's worth a quarter or two.

# Well this is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching, or one of the links below, can help.