02 October 2008

Boomers on a Budget: Transportation

Get rid of excess vehicles. The obvious starting point. So, we have a For Sale sign on the little white truck. It's our least fuel efficient vehicle at about 20 mpg. For now, we're keeping the Mazda Tribute (Tom insists he gets high 20s) and the Toyota Prius (currently at 51.2 mpg). How far into retirement does a couple go before dropping to one car? We had the briefest of conversations about this; we both said, almost simultaneously, that our separate vacations make this impossible.

Reduce the commute. Well, Tom and I certainly accomplished that in 2008. My work for clients is primarily through telecommute. (I save on gasoline, dry cleaning, and lunches. The savings are appreciable.) If you are not ready for that drastic a change, working from home just one day a week will make a healthy dent in transportation costs. Pitch the idea to your boss by suggesting that everyone go on a 4-day week; the office will look very green in the annual report. If you are the boss, declare a trial period to test for changes in productivity, loyalty, and absenteeism.

Relax the commute. If there's no way reduce work days, try to flex the schedule. Gas mileage goes up after rush hour.

Carpool, etc. Texas is not known for its carpools. But here's a good etc.—a boomer woman colleague bought a scooter last year to travel between home and campus. She brags about her $4/month gasoline cost.

Eco-drive. Boost gas mileage with tips from Ford's eco-driving web page. The company's sponsored research demonstrates 15% and higher improvement in typical drivers' fuel efficiency. Conscious choices make 25% improvement likely. (Hypermiling fans claim much higher improvement of 50% but also invite charges of using unsafe and unlawful strategies, such as turning off the ignition when the car is in motion.)

My favorite eco-driving techniques. I cannot say what improvement these measures produce but I did notice higher mpg after I adopted them:

  1. When I'm the only car on the city street, drop speed to 20 - 25 miles per hour.
  2. When I'm the only car on the highway, drop speed to 50 - 55 miles per hour.
  3. When I'm the only car on a hill, "coast" up the hill as I approach the crest. (This takes some practice and it's hard to give direction but the basic idea is to reduce the work of the engine in the last few seconds of the climb.)
  4. When I'm the only car approaching a yellow or red light, take my foot off the accelerator and coast to the intersection.
  5. When cars are behind me in the same situation, drop my speed to the lowest socially acceptable level. This means taking into account the possibility that someone behind me is armed and short-tempered.
  6. Plan trips around the hours of my favorite radio shows to help me tolerate the slower pace of my travels. Yep, and also around the hours that I am least likely to have cars behind me.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

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