Gas prices are on the rise and have been forecasted to possibly reach $4.00 a gallon by this summer. This news sends many people into shock, but for me, it hardly makes me bat an eyelash. Granted, I don’t like spending extra money on anything, but I know that even if gas does go up another dollar a gallon, it won’t make that much of a difference in my budget. Why is that? Let me introduce you to our two little money saving cars:
2000 Honda Civic EX Coupe: I bought this car in 2002 from a private party for $8300 with 69,000 miles on it. I took a 6 year car loan out on it at the time because I was a 20 yr old college student on a small salary and the monthly payment of $146 fit well within my budget. This car has never left me stranded anywhere. It only needed a few minor repairs on it over the past 5 years: new tires, a new windshield (the original leaked), a new battery, and new struts. These are pretty typical repairs for an older car though. I’ve put 100,000 miles on this car since I’ve gotten it and it still runs great and averages 35-40 mpg.
1991 Nissan Sentra SE: My husband’s brother gave him this car about 2 years ago after his Dodge Dakota truck died. This car has been in their family for years and has been passed from family member to family member. I hate to say it, but I’m glad his truck died and that we have this car instead. This little 2 door car has manual locks and windows, no AC, the interior cloth is ripping off and has over 250,000 miles, but this thing is a beast. It is purely used as my husband’s commuter car and gives us a crazy 40 miles per gallon. Not bad for a free car.
So it should be obvious why rising gas prices don’t bother me very much – because we don’t use a lot of gas. We spend on average $175 on gas a month. That includes each of us driving over 15 miles (one way) to work each workday, driving about 10 miles to church at least 3 times a week, and recreational driving for visits to friends and family as well as shopping. Gas where we live is about $3.25 a gallon right now. My husband averages about 25 gallons of gas per month for his commute, while we average about 30 gallons a month for our Honda, including my commute to work and all other driving. So even if gas were to go up a full dollar a gallon, it would only cost us an extra $55. Now that’s a chunk of money, but not as much as if my husband were still driving his Dodge Dakota. At 18 miles a gallon, he would be using 50 gallons of gas per month, costing almost $100 more a month in gas at current gas prices. If prices were to go up a dollar a gallon, it would cost us an additional $50 a month for his truck alone. And that’s if we still had one fuel efficient car.
Our car’s fuel efficiency also tremendously helps with travel costs. My family lives across the state from us – about 300 miles away and we try to go over and visit as often as possible. With gas prices rising, I jokingly said the other day that it would almost be cheaper to fly over than to drive. I did the math just to see and found out that there would still be a HUGE difference in price – even if gas went up a dollar a gallon.
Right now we can drive over there, drive around town and drive back on 2 tanks of gas. It currently costs us about $30 to fill our tank so a trip across the state costs us $60. If gas prices were to rise by a dollar a gallon, it would cost us $40 a tank instead of $30 (on our small 10 gallon tank) so then it would actually cost us $80, with a difference of only $20. The absolute cheapest flight from here to there is $50 one-way per person. For my husband and I to fly it would cost over $200 (plus tax, plus the extra fee to take our dog on the plane). Driving instead of flying still would save us well over $120 per trip – even at the higher gas prices. (This of course is not taking into account the wear and tear on the car).
That is the main reason higher gas prices don’t scare me or freak me out. The best part is that the savings don’t stop there. Here are some other ways our fuel efficient cars save us money beyond gas:
Maintenance: Parts for Hondas or Nissans tend to be cheaper than parts for, let’s say a Mercedes or Lexus. It’s easy to find stock parts for our cars at junkyards or on eBay. I’ve heard they are easier to work on as well (I’ve never worked on my own car so I don’t know) Also, things like tires are cheaper because we only need small tires to put on our car.
Insurance: Since our cars aren’t worth a lot compared to higher priced SUVs and luxury cars, they don’t cost as much to insure. And since our Nissan is hardly worth anything, we don’t even have comprehensive or collision coverage on it. That puts our total insurance cost to $130 per month (it’s still high because we’re both in our twenties).
Payments: Our Nissan has the best monthly payment we could ask for since it was free. Our Honda still has a payment of $146 a month. But with a balance of under $1400 on the loan, we are very close to not having a car payment at all. Some people have car payments that equal about 1/3 of their monthly salary. I”m glad to say that we are not among them.
My husband and I are currently a dual-income-no-kids family (I believe they are called DINKs, although I think that sounds kind of funny). Since this is the case, having 2 cars with only 2 doors works fine for us. I would love to have a new SUV with all the gadgets, but frankly I’m not willing to pay extra in monthly payments, gas, and insurance for a vehicle that we really don’t need right now.
I love the fact that our cars are not money hogs. I know that in a few years when we start having children, we will need to upgrade one of our 2 doors to something that’s a little easier to get a car seat in and out of the backseat. While I used to think that car needed to be an SUV, our plan has now switched to a fuel efficient 4 door sedan instead. The longer we can save money on our cars, the more we can invest and save and the better off we’ll be in the long run.
Image courtesy of caseyhelbling