How I’m Saving Money By Driving Smarter

Today, I’m talking about hypermiling; the art of changing the way you drive to increase miles per gallon and save money.

Making some minor tweaks to my driving habits the past month has increased my MPG by 17%. I went from averaging 35 MPG to 41 MPG.

One simple rule of thumb is the more you’re pressing on the gas pedal, the more money you’re using up in gas. So a majority of hypermiling techniques attempt to minimize how often you’re hitting the gas pedal.

Here are the handful of easy changes I made to my driving habits.

Brake Less, Coast More

The more you brake, the more you use the gas pedal to get back up to speed. On the flip side, the more you coast, the further you’re able to go without using the gas.

This technique goes hand-in-hand with the next one.

Pay Attention

Know your surroundings. Is the next stoplight red or green, is it uphill or downhill, are there cars behind you, etc.?

This helps determine how far and if you can coast.

Having this thought in mind has opened my eyes to multiple locations on my daily commute where I can coast a fair distance. It also helps you drive more efficiently. If an upcoming light is red, there’s no rush to get there and come to a complete stop. Coast as long as you can up to the light, possibly even timing it so you don’t have to stop completely at all.

Don’t Be In a Hurry

When you’re in a hurry, you tend to accelerate harder and drive faster.

Know the faster you’re driving, the less efficient your engine becomes. So I’ve become more intentional about driving closer to the speed limit and accelerating more slowly.

Consistent Gas Pedal, Not Speed

This primarily has to do with long stretches of road where you’re able to drive a set speed limit (i.e., highways). The more you press/release the gas pedal, the more gas you’d use than if you kept the gas pedal depressed at a consistent level.

The biggest example of this is when you’re on a highway going up a hill.

Generally, I would press the gas pedal down further to maintain the same speed. However, my goal is no longer consistent speed, but consistent gas pedal.

So I try to keep my foot pressed down the same amount all the way through the hill. That means my car typically slows down  5 to 10 MPH, but I’m making my car work less and use less gas by doing so.

Make It Fun

After while these little exercises became a game. How far could I coast and ultimately how efficient can I make my driving to increase MPG?

When taking exits on the highway, I would try to determine the precise location I could stop pressing the gas and perfectly coast through the off-ramp onto the next turn without using the brake or gas until I was on the next street.

Honestly, I was surprised at how significant my gas mileage increased with these relatively easy changes.

Probably the biggest adjustment was not getting too worked up about slowing the people behind you. For example, I used to accelerate faster when there was someone behind me.

Now I don’t care if they’re riding my tail because I’d rather boost my MPG. ;)

What are same ways you’ve been able to drive more efficiently and save money on gas?

Accountability and Staying Connected to the Vine

I’ve always had a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to accountability relationships. I cringe and sigh anytime I’ve been in groups which require an accountability partner.

Not that I don’t believe in it’s value (I do). The bad taste comes from never having a fruitful, long-term accountability pairing. From feeling like any attempt is doomed to failure.

As I’ve been pondering why that is, I believe one shortcoming has been the focus/topic of discussion. In the past, most of the dialogue and accountability has been on overcoming sin. You get together, talk about what you struggle with and how you can “do better.”

The focus has always been on sin.

But the question I’ve been asking myself is: what helps my relationship with God more?

Does my relationship with God deepen more through overcoming sin or through other ways?

I believe this verse in John 15 sums it up best.

John 15:5 (NIV)
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

We bear fruit when we remain close to the vine. In other words, growth happens when our relationship with Jesus is thriving.

And that should be the focus of any accountability relationship; ensuring each person is connected to the vine.

What questions would you ask yourself to keep your relationship with God in check?

Why I Stopped Praying Before Eating

I tweeted a question last week asking people if they prayed before they ate and why.

The question spawned out of my past experience and a sense the tides were shifting. I can’t remember the last time I prayed before a meal (outside of a group). It’s been at least two years, if not more.

The main reasons I stopped praying before eating are:

  • It became too ritualistic.
  • It felt like I was repeating the same thing every time.
  • It lacked authenticity.

I know the Bible has examples of thanking God before a meal (Matthew 15:36, Acts 27:35), but I argued with myself thankfulness should be a lifestyle. That if I lived a life that was consistently thankful to God and His provision, two or three meal prayers a day wouldn’t be necessary.

If you know anything about me, you know I hate doing things just for the sake of doing them. So after awhile, it seemed stupid to keep praying before eating.

Until now.

I’ve had a change of heart thanks to some gentle reminders from some friends.

While it can become very ritualistic, it never hurts to thank the Lord for the food He has provided. ;) ~Brannen W.

You should not stop thanking God until you stop being thankful. ~Brad C.

It can be a witness to people around and shows you’re not embarrassed to pray in public. ~Terry T.

Stopping for a second to thank him for the food he provided is a good reminder to me that we didn’t earn all of the stuff we have … it all comes from him. ~Elizabeth H.

To me it goes back to all Jesus sacrificed for us. Can we not take a second before we eat all the bounty this Earth has provided, to thank Him for all He has done for us? ~Katie P.

Cause something seems like a routine doesn’t make it wrong or inappropriate … more so it can be a discipline to be reminded of His many gifts … it’s an opportunity to engage the heart when it feels like we’re mumbling words … ~Fola S.

My new reasons to prayer before a meal:

  • Why would we not take advantage of every opportunity to thank God?
  • If we truly acknowledge His role/provision in our lives, we should be thanking him way more than we do.
  • In public, it is a way to stand out and declare your faith in a subtle way.

As my friend Fola said, praying before meals is an opportunity to engage the heart when it seems routine.

So that is my new mindset.

Not to say a quick prayer before a meal (so I can get to the good part of eating), but to pause for a second and reflect on all that is good about God.

And then thank God for that (in addition to the yummy food I’m about to eat). ;)

Thoughts, comments? What are you most thankful to God for right now?