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Join the March Challenge: Put It in Park

March 1st, 2010 at 08:22 am



Lord, I was born a homebody
Trying to make a living and doing the best I can
And when it's time for saving
I hope you'll understand
Cus I was born a homebody.


Welcome to the March Challenge, the next in a series of monthly challenges designed to get you thinking more about how easily your hard-earned money's spent.

The March Challenge seeks to raise awareness of how much you rely on your car or SUV every day. Sure, you've got to get to work and drop the kids off here or there, but have you ever stopped to think how much those little trips add up in terms of both wear and tear on the car and consumption of gas?

If you'd like to participate in the March Challenge, set your car's odometer to 0 today. Throughout the month, the challenge is to minimize the miles you put on your vehicle, whether by deferring trips until they can be consolidated with other errands or using alternative means of getting where you need to go.

Get creative by considering these options to driving:

* Consolidating driving trips
This is a big one. How many times have you sent your spouse out to the grocery store to pick up a single item? How many times do you run out to go somewhere during a single Saturday?

* Using public transportation
Not everyone has access to trains, subways or buses but for those who do, public transit is one of the most under-utilized, taxpayer-subsidized deals around.

* Carpooling with neighbors or family to run errands
If one of your neighbors is a senior citizen, think what a nice gesture it would be to suggest you hit the supermarket together and take turns driving. If you're willing to help her load groceries in the trunk, you'll earn your Good Samaritan star for sure.

* Walking or bicycling
If you're lucky enough to live near town, keep the car in the garage and get some exercise while you run errands. Although I live in a spread out, suburban town, I often walk to our public library, the movie theater, a Chinese restaurant and a supermarket, when I only need a few items.

If you have more than one vehicle in your household or more than one family member who uses one vehicle, you'll have to sort out how to address that in the challenge. If you use your second vehicle to do all the driving this month, you're not really following the spirit of the challenge.

On March 31, we'll all report our mileage. The winner is the person who has driven the fewest miles between March 1 and March 31.

To get the most from the Challenge, I encourage you to continue tracking your mileage for the month of April (by setting your odometer back to 0 on April 1) so you can see how many fewer miles you can drive when you set your mind to it versus how many miles you drive according to your typical driving patterns.

Deduct Your Commute Miles
I realize that the playing field will not be completely level starting out, because many of us have sometimes lengthy commutes to work that we can't do much about. So I'm going to ask you to subtract from your total miles driven in March the mileage spent driving to and from work. If you don't already know how long a round trip takes, check your mileage when you drive in to work tomorrow.

While nearly all of us have other reasons why we must drive somewhere on a given day or a given week, whether it's visiting family, ferrying kids to softball practice or simply heading out to buy the week's groceries, these are the trips where we can use our creativity and our organizational skills to consolidate and combine driving trips.

Becoming more aware of the miles we put on our vehicles can motivate us to consolidate and shorten our trips and save on energy costs. And who knows? Maybe some of the efforts you made during the Challenge to shave off a few miles here or there will become standard operating procedure in the months to come. While most of us can't expect to give up our cars entirely, small changes do add up. And that can only be a good thing for the budget!

Are you in?

21 Responses to “Join the March Challenge: Put It in Park”

  1. pjmama Says:

    I would be, but I have to rely on these things anyway! lol. With no car, I think I would be cheating Smile

  2. ceejay74 Says:

    I'm w/ pjmama. Occasionally I get a lift from friends, and from time to time I call a cab or rent a car. But in the day to day, it's all public transportation and walking for me and my family.

  3. debtfreeme Says:

    I'm in.

    I even mapped out the usual places i go (school two night a week, sisters house, store etc.) to figure out approximatly what it should be.

  4. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    missed the starting gun on this one, great idea. I already take the bus to work, and carpool kids with a neighbor for school. And WISH bike/walk were given a HIGHER PRIORITY even on this list.

  5. fern Says:

    Pretty Cheap, you didn't miss the starting gun on this. It starts today!

  6. CB in the City Says:

    I'll join the challenge, though with my bum ankle I won't be doing much walking! However, consolidating trips is something I can do! (I know I won't win -- my kids live 40 minutes away and I know I will be driving to see them sometimes -- but it will be interesting to see what I CAN cut down on!)

  7. dmontngrey Says:

    I've already cut down/cut out as much as I can. Limited to my 60 mile per day round trip commute + a couple errand runs per week. I already put some necessary trips off as long as possible and combine errands. Good luck to everyone joining! Smile

  8. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    hmm, ok I'm in! Must remember to set it at zero this afternoon. Oh, and yes, going off to FB and tweet this.

  9. baselle Says:

    This one is an easy one for me - I don't drive. I'll note the number of miles that I'm with DH and count those.

  10. princessperky Says:

    I don't know if I can do this one, husband does the driving, and I would have to pester him to keep track.
    Not that he would mind if he was interested.

  11. Petunia Says:

    After flunking the get rid of stuff challenge and the eating in challenge, I don't think I'll do any better with this one! But I'll participate - I think that the awareness will do me good. I live in suburbia and it's really easy to just jump in the car and go some place.

  12. janH Says:

    What an interesting idea! I've been keeping track of things by gas expenses and not mileage. That's a completely different take on things. Could get interesting if this is spring break month for most people! These challenges sure make you think.

  13. Ima saver Says:

    Well I am in and I will go set my mileage to zero right now. Now, how did you get a picture of my car at the beginning of your blog??

  14. shiela Says:

    hmmm...this is a hard one. I don't even know how to convert kilometres to mileage! Our car at the moment is acting up, so it hasn't been driven for few days. Planning to get it fix tomorrow. We've already have plans to go on few day trips this month so this will be a very hard challenge. Good luck to everyone.

  15. whitestripe Says:

    dang! it's the 3rd already and I just read the latest challenge. I shall do it anyway.

  16. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Well, considering how uncomfortable (tailbone issues) it is for me right now driving or riding in a car, I'm already trying to limit my time in one. Smile I generally make whatever stops I'm going to make (bank, library, groceries, etc) on my way home from wherever I was tutoring at. My only driving outside of work is to my ASL class and church - although those two trips do add up to quite a few miles.

  17. monkeymama Says:

    I'll be a debbie downer again. I probably won't be driving anywhere but to work this month, anyway. I can't keep track of dh's miles - lord knows. But if he does all the errands and I just work - not exactly fair. Regardless, I don't see cutting down our driving, as a whole. Public transport here sucks. VEry impractical, and worse, very expensive. Which means I don't see much effort to change my ways. We already do everything else - whereas, sometimes we make an effort to drive further out to save more money in other areas.

    Of course, this month sucks. Any other month, I might make the challenge to walk the kids to school more. (Then again, I probably go 0.2 miles out of the way - if that - to drop them off on my way to work?). Which means I could be super lazy and rack up all of 4 miles? Big Grin

  18. fern Says:

    Whitestripe, yesterday was only March 1. You're getting ahead of yourself!

  19. SIF Says:

    Sounds fun . . .but I don't have a car! I sometimes ride in cars with other people though . . .perhaps my challenge could be to do that less?

  20. patientsaver Says:

    SIF, you're already 2 steps ahead of us!

  21. Jerry Says:

    We sold both of our cars when we moved overseas, and it definitely leads to an adjustment in thinking. There are times when we miss just being able to go GET something, or haul something that is too big to carry on the trolley or the bus, or travel someplace on our own schedule. However, we don't miss the fuel costs (which are even higher in Europe), car insurance, or other expenses. If you live in a city where there is a decent public transport system in place, it's do-able. Good luck!
    Jerry

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