Monday, May 12, 2008


I've been thinking a lot about the economy lately, especially gas prices. I drive 28 miles door-to-door, one-way, to work, and I don't have the option of selling my house and moving closer. (My mom & I live 1000 feet apart, and I can't move until she does. That way I can watch out for her; she's 70.)

I paid $3.49 the other day, which is 20 cents cheaper than the area average of $3.69. Missouri is a bit in the middle, and usually cheaper than the national average.

As I won't see my economic stimulus check until after July 4, I've been penny pinching everywhere. I know, authors are supposed to be fabulously wealthy, but that doesn't necessarily happen unless you're Nora. And I have horse camp, bible away camp, and a three-week intensive summer gifted program to pay for. I fired my trash guys and got new ones (savings of $76 a year) and got my internet provider to give me a monthly rate of $14.95 instead of $21.95.

I also broke down and downsized my car. My 2004 Malibu Maxx (fully loaded) had over 100,000 miles on it and was starting to have mechanical issues. Since Chevy was offering loyalty cash of 3,000 and I get a supplier's discount, I saved over $3,700 on a new Chevy Cobalt. My Cobalt is no frills. No heated leather seats. No DVD system. No automatic climate controls.

However, my payment dropped by a good chunk, my gas mileage went up by 6 MPG, and I now have a car with another 100,000 mile warranty, which means repair is free. (And trust me, I use the warranty.)

The upfront outpouring of cash (title, taxes, payoff/trade in) was a huge bite. But in the end, in three years I'll be in better shape to give a 3-year old car to my 16 year old instead of a 7 year old car.

I remember those days of driving a clunker that died at every stoplight...but that's another post.

So what are you doing to save pennies here and there? I've also unplugged all unused appliances and changed to those energy saver light bulbs. Now if I could just get my daughters to turn off the TV when they leave the room....


Estella said...

My dh and I pinch pennies every way possibe. We are retired on a fixed income.
Gas is $3.73 per gallon where we live.

Linda in California said...

$3.99 for regular in the SF Bay Area. And I just bought a stupid Crossover SUV from Saturn! How dumb is that? I had my little coupe in the dealer for oil change and they found over $5000 worth of damage to the undercarriage (hmm, could it be the way I drive?). This car was paid for and 7 years old. I didn't have the cash so instead - I financed a big, old sucker and now have a car payment until death and a gas tank that just sucks it up. Why am I so impulsive? I could have driven it home and went over to Honda or Toyota and bought a small cute thing? Or - the CHEVY Aveo is cute and cheap!

Other ways - not eating out, except once a month, turning off lights when no one is in the room, washing clothes in cold water, getting rid of my landline, purusing the clearance bin at Safeway for used to be expensive meat (still good), learning to love beans and lentil soup.

Now, I could walk to work, it's 15 minutes by foot but I also have an 88 year old mom who lives next door to care for as well as two dogs who need to go out at lunch.

My stimulus check - which I also get late - I shelping pay for my hotel at RWA - even though I could take BART and just commute every day...which I may do if I can't swing the hotel...ARRRGGH!

I make good money but I am so in debt and everything costs so much.

Michele Dunaway said...


Ouch! I'm with you! Hang in there!

I drove an Aveo for a little while while my Malibu was getting fixed and I went with the Cobalt instead. (The engines aren't great.) A friend just bought the new Saturn Asta--which I loved but needed 4 doors. The Saturn crossover is cute...but I know about those car payments and feel your pain.

I had a year left to pay on my Malibu or I would have kept it--being over 100,000 miles made it too costly to risk having an out of warranty car repair plus a car payment. Right at 99,800 everything just died--I had to get 2 catalytic converters and a bunch of other things. The warranty covered, but still... I couldn't risk once it was beyond 100,000 and still hiccupping.

I thought about the Prius, but to get one in Missouri you have to pay full price and wait six weeks. So I went $10,000 cheaper, and figured that I can always drive less. My insurance went down, my taxes will be less on it, and so the way I figured it, even with gas at $4.25, I come out $1,500 ahead with the Cobalt. So far I like it.

PS--I dropped my landline as well. I have the base plan only for dial up. It's cheaper to have 3 cell phones (1 for me, 1 for each daughter) than to have a home phone.


Michele Dunaway said...

PS--I will never stop buying books, which is why I must cut elsewhere....

Laura Marie Altom said...

Michele--Among other money savers, I'm making the kids drink generic pop!! The horror!! You'd think I was making them drink acid. Of course, they like generic better than the alternative of water!!!

Linda said...

Laura - Too funny, you bad mommie! I buy generic but if it's not up to snuff, I switch back to name brand.

Michelle - I looked at the Astra as well and thought it looked great but they hadn't received their deliver yet and wouldn't for 54 days...of course...when it finally arrived, I sat in it and it paled in comparison to the interior of the VUE. I was spoiled! And it was only $2000 cheaper. I wanted a PRIUS but they are expensive and I was already pushing it with the VUE. The Astra does come in a four door, BTW. This car, under a different name, has been a best seller in Europe for years.

p.s. there is an article on about the death of landlines.

Laura Marie Altom said...

Linda--my kids think I'm horribly cruel!! Lucky for me and Hubby that we don't care!! Bwah ha ha!!! LOL!!

You all are making me jealous with all this talk of new cars!! Mine burns more oil than gas! Bt hey, isn't crude cheaper than the actual gas?? ;-)