I Stimulated The Economy

Below is a photo of my “Family Truckster” (Chevy Chase/ Vacation reference).

A 2004 with 150,000 miles on it.

For me, a vehicle is just transportation.  I don’t try to make a statement with it or any attempt for it to be an “image”.

I never “needed” a pickup for my job that I have today (I had a pickup supplied by the construction company I worked for years ago) but it has been very useful to have when I did any home improvement projects or to pick up “curb treasure” for my wife, carry my bicycle around or just to toss the fishing poles in.  You’d be surprised to see how many tables, dressers, chairs, cabinets etc we’ve found that we’ve either resold or repainted that have come via curbside.

Truckster

Below is my new car that I traded The Truckster in for.

I really didn’t want to have to buy a new vehicle, but it was time.   In this  Obama Economy, my money is tight, really tight.  This will be the second year in a row that there will not be merit raises.  The Truckster got about 19 MPG and I knew (because I am compulsive about tracking my expenses) that I spent quite a bit of money on gasoline, but The Truckster was paid for and it didn’t really make too much sense for me to trade better mileage for a car payment.  We haven’t had a car payment in our household for over 6 years.  But I needed new tires and it was going to need brakes sometime this year and I just couldn’t be sure that The Truckster wasn’t going to go “Bluesmobile” on me at any moment flying down the tollway !

Car_001

The only way I could make this deal work is if I save a lot of money on gas.  The Chevy Cruze is rated to get 38 MPG on the highway.  60 of the 66 miles I drive daily are on the tollway and is a small blessing considering how much I would have been spending on gas if I had “city” driving instead.  Worst case scenario, if the new car “only” gets 30 MPG, I should still be saving about $100-$125 a month in gas costs and that is a third of the car payment.

Now, being the notorious cheap bastard that I am, I have in the past year and a half cut out as much as I can from the family budget, and it’s still going to be a stretch to “find” the rest of the money for the car payment.  Several good things are that we do not have any credit card debt and I can at least count on not having any major repair bill on The Truckster.

Well, I’ve had the car now for two weeks and have driven to work 10 times.  I got gas after the first five trips to work, but since I wasn’t sure how much gas the dealer had put in, I couldn’t be sure how accurate the numbers were going to be but it did figure to be 33 MPG which I thought was good, but considering I drive the optimal conditions for achieving the highest EPA rating, I thought that it should have been better. (Phew, feel like I pulled a Hemingway with that run on sentence!!)  The wife did make about 50 miles of city driving trips that surely lowered the MPG.

Below are some calculations on the second tank of gas.  This time there were very few superfluous miles added on.

Gas_001

Bottom line is that I got over 36 MPG and saved $33 !!

Very, very happy about that.

My biggest long term concern was going to be how comfortable the seat is.  I am a full figured gentleman and some 17 years ago had a L5 Microdiscectomy.  I feel best when I can sit back /thighs/legs all being at 90 degrees and the bench seat in The Truckster was great for that.  But as it has turned out so far, I have been able to adjust the bucket seat in the car so that it has not been an issue.

I also have to say that I am very impressed with what has been done in the past 30 years with small car engines.  This car has a 1.4 liter engine, and it is not lacking in the “giddy up, go” department.  This was the last 1.4 liter car that I drove:

Little dead chevette

Little dead chevette

My mother came home one day in 1978 with a used 1977 Chevette. The only thing worse than a 1977 Chevette was a used 1977 Chevette.  This actually isn’t the worst car that my mother brought home.  She out did herself with a 1980 Chevy Citation.

Well, I guess Disney is off the list for this year.

60 more payments and it’s all mine !!

Another “eco” Fail !!

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-green-cars-20120531,0,5326867.story

Consumer Reports: Special ‘eco’ car models don’t pay

The special “eco” versions of small cars such as the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Honda Civic don’t improve fuel economy enough to be worth the extra money, according to an analysis by Consumer Reports.

The magazine said it could take as long as 38 years for the extra cost to be worthwhile, depending on the vehicle.  The cars, which come equipped with special low rolling resistance tires and aerodynamic features, generally cost $500 to $800 more than fuel-efficient siblings that don’t carry the “eco” label.

Consumer Reports looked at the Ford Focus SFE, Chevrolet Cruze Eco and Honda Civic HF.

The results: Consumer Reports found that the Cruze Eco saves drivers only $20 a year in gas purchases while the Focus SFE and Civic HF save consumers $145 and $135 a year, respectively.

Are You Missing $4,155?

It Went Into Your Gas Tank This Year

When the gifts from Grandma are unloaded and holiday travel is over, the typical American household will have spent $4,155 filling up this year, a record. That is 8.4 percent of what the median family takes in, the highest share since 1981.

Gas averaged more than $3.50 a gallon this year, another unfortunate record. And next year isn’t likely to bring relief.

In the past, high gas prices in the United States have gone hand-in-hand with economic good times, making them less damaging to family finances. Now prices are high despite slow economic growth and weak demand

Now then, since I am a freak about data, I can tell you to the dime as to how much I have spent on gasoline for the past 20 years !!

I have used Quicken as my favorite financial tool for over 20 years.  Even before I had Quicken, I used to write my own BASIC computer programs to track my auto expenses, but I have also added making spreadsheets to collect the data.

Below are my numbers for 2009 to 2011:

2010-11 Price Per Gallon & MPG

2009-11 Price Per Gallon

2009-11 Gas Data

I fill up about every 6 working days.

I drive the same 66-70 miles a day in a 2004 full size pickup (6 cylinder)

I think it was in 2007 when gas was costing above $4.00 for quite sometime, I checked my MPG and found I was getting around 17 1/2 MPG (65-70 MPH)

I checked it again going 55-60 MPH and it went up to the current MPG of almost 19, an increase of almost 10 %.  Meaning on a tank of 25 gallons, I could go almost 40 extra miles, saving $6-7 per tank.

 

Even though I meticulously record and track my spending, it does become quite shocking when some of the numbers are totaled up and you can see how much of your money goes to different categories.