Reader question- Does it save money to drive further for cheap gas?
Hi again. So I was checking out your cost of driving calculator and I was wondering about the cost of gas. I live in downtown Portland where gas is pretty expensive. If I drive out to the suburbs for cheap gas that is like 10 cents per gallon cheaper, but I have to drive 12 miles to get there. I know it costs money to drive there, so am I saving money by driving more to pay less.”
P.S. I just noticed that the initials of Art of Being Cheap are ABC. Was that on purpose?”
Good question. The answer depends on how much it costs you to drive, how far you drive, how big your gas tank is, and how much less you will pay.
Also, it never occurred to be that I could abbreviate the name of the website as ABC. That will save me some time, so thanks!
How to know if you save money driving further
The first step is to know how much you will spend to drive to the station with the cheap gas. To do this, you need to fill out ABC’s car cost mileage calculator. When you do this, you will get three different costs at the bottom of the calculator. This calculator gives you what I call the driving cost per mile, the fixed ownership cost per mile, and the total cost per mile.
You should only use the driving cost per mile because the other two take into account things like insurance and property tax costs that will not go up because you drive additional miles. The driving cost represents only the costs you incur by driving more.
Next, you will need to know how far you will drive. If you aren’t sure, you can figure it out at maps.google.com. Be sure to use the round trip distance, not the one way distance.
Then you will need to estimate how much gas you will buy. This calculation is more likely to work in your favor if you run your gas tank down as low as you feel comfortable with, but be sure not to run out of gas. Waiting till your gas tank is near empty saves you money for two reasons. First, you will buy more of the gas at a lower cost which will increase your savings. Next, if you wait longer maybe something will come up and you will find yourself driving by a cheaper gas station by luck.
Finally, you will need to know how much you will save per gallon. To figure that out, you can use gasbuddy.com.
Now that you have all that information, here is the cheap gas calculator:
So what did you come up with? If you are driving 12 miles to go to a cheaper gas station, you likely aren’t saving any money. Even if you are, is it enough to be worth your time? Let me know what you found in the comments section.
Photo by Kevin Cole