Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Join the $4 a Gallon Green Savings Club
I'm often described as a professional penny-pincher. After all, I make my living writing about and reporting on ways to save a buck, and help save the planet in the process. I think my dollar stretching skills are programmed in my DNA. The Yeager family crest even bears the inscription "Spartica Homo Erectus," Latin for "Cheapskate Who Stands on Two Feet."
So here I am, proud to be among the most savvy shoppers in America, and I'm still paying $4 a gallon for gasoline when last week the national average fell to under $2.00 a gallon, the lowest price in over a year and a half. Have I lost my money-saving mind? Is my frugal libido dead?
No, you see I've made a pledge to continue to pay $4 a gallon for gas. Or, more accurately, to pay the lowest price I can find and then bank the difference in my $4 a Gallon Green Savings Club. So at $4 a gallon it used to cost about $60 to fill up my Toyota pickup truck, and now it tops off at closer to $30. Every time I fill up, I stick the $30 I saved into my Savings Club envelope. Since I fill up about once a week, at this rate I'll squirrel away more than $1,500 over the next twelve months if gas prices remain this low.
Like the old Christmas Savings Clubs that were popular when I was a kid, it's easy to build a nice nest egg by saving a little bit at a time as part of your daily money management routine. Sure, we complained about paying $4 for a gallon of gas, but we got use to it and adjusted our household budgets and driving behavior to pay for it. Now that the price has dropped, why not bank the savings rather than spend it on something else or, worst of all, go back to our old driving habits?
And that last point is why the $4 a Gallon Savings Club is as much about environmental stewardship as it is about money. When gas actually cost $4 a gallon, the good news was that we drove less and our consumption dropped for the first time in decades. The environment was the winner, and, from what I could see, nothing awful happened to us because we drove less. Of course that drop in consumption/demand was one of the primary reasons why gas prices came back down ---at least for the time being.
Now I'm not an economist, I'm just a cheap guy from southern Maryland, but it seems to me like if we return to our pre-$4 a gallon driving habits, demand for gas will increase and prices will soon follow. But if we continue to drive as if gas costs $4 a gallon - even if it means paying ourselves the difference via our Savings Clubs rather than paying it at the pump - we might be able to keep gas prices low, build a nice little savings account, and, oh yeah, live lighter on the earth.
That's why every time I stick an Andrew Jackson in my $4 a Gallon Savings Club, I know that I'm saving green by living green.
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