Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lower Gas Prices = Found (Pre-tax) Money

Wenchypoo linked to an article at MSNBC the other day which caused a "Hey! I can do that!" moment. Liz Pulliam Weston's money saving tips included an item on the savings potential which comes from paying yourself $2/gallon when you fill up the gas tank.
Instead of frittering away all that money you've been saving on cheap gas, force yourself to save. Think of it as your own strategic reserve.

We have, my friends, a terrific opportunity now that gasoline in most parts of the country costs less than $2 a gallon.

The precipitous price drop since last summer leaves more money in our wallets. But unless we take action, that windfall is likely to dribble away in extra spending.

So I propose that we capture that money (more than $2 a gallon) and sock it away. Plumping up our savings cushions never hurts, and if energy prices rise again, we can tap our own individual strategic reserves of cash.

I drive a big truck. A Ford F150 SuperCrew with a 25 gallon tank. Filling up last year was $75-100. That's what was in my budget for this year. With prices under $2, that is a savings of roughly $50 per trip to the gas station. I don't do a lot of driving, so I fill up every two or three weeks.

Figuring two refuels per month, and $50 per trip, that's $1,200 per year.

Nice. But, what to do with it?

Fund the Health Savings Account. For a family, the allowable contribution each year is $5,800. That's pre-tax money, and is above and beyond the health insurance premiums. We haven't hit the maximum any year since getting the plan & account in place - but this extra $1200 should get us closer in 2009.

Put 24.7 gallons in the truck on Monday. Time to schedule that first deposit of "found money."

Thanks to the handy-dandy Gas Cubby iPhone App I'm trying out, I see my gas mileage on the last tank was 11.8 mpg. Ugh. The short distance kid-shuttling makes for a very fuel in-efficient vehicle. If only I could figure out how to get the kids to & from school on bike. (Previous rant on lack of sidewalks for pedestrians and safe bike lanes in my neighborhood.)

1 comment:

Slamdunk said...

Good suggestion Mappchik. The sooner, myself included, we become a nation of savers instead of a nation of splurgers, the better off we will be.

After looking at my investment returns for the year, I should be taking advantage of options like health savings accounts with an extra dollars available (from gasoline savings or whatever)--thanks for planting the seed.