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The next stop on tracking our monthly spending and building a new budget is transportation costs. Today we are specifically looking at the cost of gas to fuel our cars. My wife and I have two vehicles – a family mini van, and a 13+ year old Saturn.
The mini van is the family car used to haul the 3 kids around everywhere and to drive when the entire family travels together. The Saturn is used solely by me to drive to and from work and to various sports practices/games etc.
I have said it before and I will say it again – cars are expensive! Just last month we blew our credit card spending budget up by a lot due to unexpected vehicle expenses on my Saturn. In order to pass our state inspection, I needed over $1,000 worth of repairs and maintenance done!
Of course, I could have gone the frugal route and tried to do the maintenance myself. However, that may have actually cost me more in time spent and materials since I am not all that handy with cars.
On top of the maintenance expenses, we also needed to have the inspection done on both our cars and pay for registration and license plate renewals.
While these are all one time annual expenses, they can really add up and blow up a monthly budget.
Another cost of driving a car that is a monthly expense is gas. This is one of those variable expenses that can fluctuate a lot over the course of a year. That can make it difficult (but not impossible) at times to budget for this transportation expense.
Here is a look at how much we spent last year on gas to drive our 2 vehicles.
How Much Did We Spend on Gas Last Year?
All of our spending on gas is paid for through our 2 credit cards we have. This makes it very easy to track how much we paid for gas over the past 12 months.
Tools like Personal Capital make it even easier to track our gas spending. We have linked both credit cards up to our free account and can easily download the combined spending of both cards for the past 12 months.
Personal Capital categorizes our spending on gas into its own category which makes it very easy to analyze.
Here is a look at our gas spending from July 2014 to June 2015 –
- 12 Month Spending on Gas – $2,613.09
- Average Spent per Month – $217.75
- Lowest Monthly Total (Jan 2015) – $136.43
- Highest Monthly Total (Sept 2014) – $306.21
There are several factors that can dictate the amount spent on gas during a given month. For example, some months we may fill each vehicle up 4 times. Other months, we may only fill our vehicles up 2 or 3 times. It depends on the time of year and the amount we are driving.
So back in September of last year, we filled both vehicles up 4 times for a total of 8 trips to the gas station. On the other hand, during January of this year we only filled our mini van up twice and my Saturn three times. So that month we only had 5 trips to the gas station.
As you can see our lowest monthly total ($136.43) was when we filled up only 5 times while our largest total ($306.21) was when we filled up 8 times.
The other main contributor on these expenses is the price of gas. While there is not a lot of control we have on gas prices, we have been trying to cut back on the amount of driving we do.
Based on past spending, we are going to set our monthly gas budget at $250 for both our vehicles combined. We realize that some months, we may go over like we did last September. However, on average we spent well under that amount last year coming in at $217.75.
Gas Monthly Budget – $250.00
We will need to manage our spending month to month for this expense and make sure that our average stays below the $250 mark.
Cars can certainly eat up a lot of money from your budget. The thought of spending over $2,600 a year just on gas seems crazy to me. And I am sure we are actually well under the amount of what most average family’s spend a year on gas.
Both our vehicles generally get good gas mileage and we don’t drive at excessive speeds which saves on the amount we use and spend. However, as long as we continue to drive 2 cars, there is not a lot of ways to cut back on the amount of driving we do.
There may be a few opportunities in our daily routine to drive a little less, but not a ton of savings.
The thought of saving on transportation costs keeps bringing me back to the idea of being able to work from home to earn our income. If it ever was possible for me to work from home, we would be able to drop one of our vehicles and save thousands of dollars in return.
How much to do you spend a month/year on gas for your vehicles? Do you stick to a monthly budget on this expense?