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Roughin’ it: A guide to being thrifty

11, July 2012

So I realized today that I haven’t posted in a WHILE (due to work and other things(life)). So today’s post will probably a long one(really should be its own blog!) to make up for these missed days! So let’s get right into it.

Recently my girlfriend, Mary, and I have been trying to save our pennies in any way possible. Our most recent effort can be seen here:

laundry hanging

Bypassing the drying phase to save a whopping $3.00

Since our landlord decided to raise the price of the drying machine in our apartment building from $1.25 to $1.50 we decided to skip using it and instead air dry all of our clothes, which worked out quite nicely! All this required was a few feet of yarn, some nails, a fan, and an assortment of places throughout my room where we could hang things to dry.

My second money-saving tip/topic has to do with saving money on gas. I figured that this would be a great item to touch on seeing as how gas prices are around $3.50/gal. I recently read an article from Popular Mechanics about ways to save on gas and found many of the ways to be very simple and easy-to-do. The first way to save gas, which is also, in my opinion, the most important way, is to avoid driving your car at all cost! If you really want to save money and gas, this will be the biggest money saver of them all. This basically means that when you can walk or ride your bike, etc. to where you need to be, do it. Especially when the place you need to get to is a mile away or closer. Plus, this way you get some exercise!

The second tip I want to talk about is the type of gas you buy. When you go to fill up at your favorite gas station, look at the pump and see if you can find anything that says, “Contains (#)% ethanol”, or something similar. What this means is that the gas contains a certain amount of ethanol (at most gas stations in the U.S. the gas will contain 10% (E10 gas)). For those of you who don’t know, ethanol is more commonly known as alcohol, or spirits (a.k.a. vodka, gin, rum, etc.). The problem with having ethanol in gasoline is that it burns much faster than gasoline, and therefore increases the amount of fuel that is burned compared to ethanol free gas. Having said that, ethanol is not entirely bad. If you aren’t worried about gas mileage, ethanol is where it’s at, and this is because it produces safer emissions compared to E10 gasoline. I won’t really go more into it than that, so if you want to read up more about ethanol, here’s the wikipedia page.

The next few tips are about maintenance of your car and driving techniques. The first thing I want to talk about is the tires on your car. A big gas saver can come from having the correct tires on your car. The best tires to have on your car are usually the tires that the owner’s manual specifies. Otherwise, you want to avoid large, flat tires, as these will cause extra friction on the tires, thus making the engine work harder to move the car. At the same time, you don’t want to have tires that have a diameter that is too large or too small for your car. The diameter tires that the manual specifies are specially designed for your car to have the best mileage.

Next, let’s talk about good driving habits. One of the biggest mileage monsters (came up with that one myself) is idling your car. This ranges from leaving your car running while you run to the bathroom, to being stopped at a red light, and there are easy fixes to most of these. If you know that you have to leave your car running for more than a couple of minutes, shut it off. When your car is running, it’s burning gas. If you live in a place where you run into a lot of stop lights, try to find a route that reduces that number and results in you waiting less at them. As a side note, stated in the PM article, if you can, plan your trip to only have right turns. This reduces the amount of time you wait at a stop sign, or light. Lastly, on the notes of stop lights, if you can’t reduce your route’s stop lights, when you roll up to a stop light, DON’T STOP. Even if you are going 2MPH, it takes less gas for your car to continue driving than from a dead stop. As a last technique, when you are driving slowly through rural areas, roll down the windows. This reduces the amount of work your engine has to do compared to having the A/C on. However, when you are at highway speeds (60MPH), roll up the windows and crank the A/C. Having the windows down at those speeds creates drag that will slow down your car (as proven by Mythbusters ((Haha, the last time I looked at this blog was almost a month ago! Shows how dedicated I am!!) I was going to put a link to the video here, but I couldn’t find it…).

The final thing I want to talk about in this short guide to being thrifty, is being self-sufficient by growing your own food (vegetables, fruit, etc.). If you have the ability to plant a garden (or have animals you can harvest as food (cows, pigs, chickens, etc.)), do it! Not only will you save money by doing this, you will also enjoy the feeling of eating something your grew (or raised) yourself! I know it may seem like a lot of work (and it can be), but it is definitely worth it! And for those of you who think you can’t grow anything because you live in an apartment (or equivalent), all you have to do is buy a planting pot, soil, and seeds! It’s so easy even I am growing my own herbs and other plants!

Herb Garden

Herbs I grew in my apartment

So as you can see, it’s very easy to save money. You just have to put forth the effort, and you will happy with the results! I hope you enjoyed my short guide, and maybe some of these things will work for you!

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One Comment
  1. Some great ideas!

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