Lower gas prices?!?! Works for me!

Listening to the radio this morning (an intense discussion on job loss and resulting foreclosures), I started to think about little ways that, we, real people, can make our limited income go just a little bit further.
I live a pretty frugal life: both cars have been paid off for about three years, our ‘date night’ consists of popping popcorn and playing “Roller Coaster Tycoon” on the computer (our game is about 7 years old), we don’t eat out with any frequency, and shop at second hand stores for clothes for our 5 year old (he’s growing like a weed and spending full price for something he’s only going to wear for a few months seems ridiculous). While I understand those actions hardly puts additional money into our economy, when we do spend money, we try to do it with Michigan owned businesses (Meijers, Eastern Market, etc.).
We don’t make a six-figure income and have had to figure out ways to cut expenses to try to save some for the future. Last night, my husband and I sat down and went through our budget and noticed some glaring inconsistencies. The gas (for our cars) numbers are way down from where were just a few months ago. Obviously, this is because of the lower gas prices. Gas prices are just about $2.50 per gallon cheaper than they had been. If it takes 15 gallons to fill up my car, that equates to a ‘savings’ of about $37.50 EACH TIME I FILL UP!! On average, I fill up about once a week, so for the month, that’s about $150 in savings! So what can we do with that ‘extra’ money? Here are some options:
1. Set the money aside and if/when gas prices go up, the pinch won’t be so painful.
2. Put the money into a savings account; you never know when you’re going to need a little extra.
3. Splurge (just a little bit) on the holidays this year.
4. When there is enough saved, make an extra principal payment on our mortgage.
5. Donate to your favorite charity.
6. Treat yourself to a weekend getaway (here in Michigan, of course).
7. Save for college; it’s never too late to go back to school!
Times are tough and every little bit helps. It’s important to figure out what is going to work best for you and your family. If you have some ways that you’ve stretched your paycheck, we’d love to hear about them!

5 thoughts on “Lower gas prices?!?! Works for me!”

  1. The eternal planner that I am— my comment revolves around it! We started planning errands and meals for the week. Sunday is errand day. It saves money, time and gas to do everything all at once and my husband and I do everything together. For the meals, everything is written out so I know exactly what to buy. We don’t waste food and I only cook what we are going to eat. We won’t eat the leftovers, so there’s no sense in cooking extra. Doing these small things, we have seen a difference in our grocery bill, gas bill and our time together!

  2. Buy in Bulk! I’m a huge fan of Sam’s Club. I’m currently re-doing my kitchen to include a chest freezer to add to the savings. You can freeze almost everything, even butter, spaghetti sauce, Sloppy Joe’s, etc.! I cook a big batch and freeze it in “grab to go to the office” containers (they thaw perfectly without a fridge by lunch time while keeping the rest of your perishables cold). Add the appropriate fixings (Easy Mac for quick pasta (throw away the powdered cheese crap), a hamburger bun, a piece of fruit, whatever) and I have a gourmet lunch! I’ll wait for a good meat sale and buy chops, steaks, chicken breasts, ground beef, etc. and then repackage them for the freezer in 1 portion sizes(tightly in foil and then gallon sized, labeled freezer bags). In the morning, I just take out however many portions I’ll need and when I get home, they are ready to cook. Of course, you can also get all your household needs (toiletries, paper goods, cleaning supplies, canned goods, etc.) for a great price as well if you have the storage. The bonus here is that your routine trip to the market for fresh stuff (veggies, milk, eggs) is way less cumbersome and time consuming (do it on the way home from work instead of wasting precious weekend time), but you have to be prepared for a hefty bill once every 6 months or so with my routine. Pound for pound, though, you just can’t beat the prices and there is always a great variety ON HAND for whatever your whim! It doesn’t hurt that I don’t have to buy furniture polish or cleanser for about 5 years, either! I can just put those kinds of things right out of my mind for a substantial length of time. When I open the last container of anything, it goes on the list for the next shop.

  3. I save TONS of cash on gas for the car! I’m laid off from an auto industry supplier. Let’s all hope 2009 is an ecomically happier time than 2008 is!

  4. Forever the skeptic, there is little doubt in my mind that gas prices will start soaring again. It won’t be for a while, however, because there are so many other, major world issues that need band-aids attached to them that it almost renders our concerns over transportation costs mundane. I do, however, appreciate your attempt at keeping us informed, which is why I’ve signed up to be a “Follower” of this blog. Keep posting…it’s good stuff!

  5. My boyfriend and I make sure that we cook more often than we go out to eat – the savings are incredible. We also do what Deb Olsen suggested, which is to run errands all at once – or at least the ones that are in the same area. We plan out routes so we’re on the road less, taking up less gas and time – which leaves more time for our popcorn popping and movie watching (Rollercoaster Tycoon just isn’t our thing!). We also have a membership to Costco, and while buying food in bulk isn’t always good for us (there are only two of us, after all) buying things like shaving cream, shampoo, razors, and so on, has helped us save money in the long run. We also refuse to throw leftovers away – we make sure to eat them for lunches and whatnot, before they are no longer good. I saw an episode of Malcolm in the Middle once where Lois made a casserole each weekend of all the remaining leftovers from the week – it was hilarious that one of the layers was the leftover casserole from the previous week! 😉

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