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It's interesting to see the ‘flavor of the day' when it comes to spending and saving money, and the tips that go along with that.

Most of us certainly remember the days a couple of years back when gas was $3 – $4 per gallon.  It seemed that every other personal finance ‘how to' article was about the best ways to reduce your gas usage.

Now that gas prices are (for the most part) in the $2 – $3 per gallon range, it's interesting to see how few of these articles actually populate the personal finance blogosphere.

I know that I still try to keep an eye on fuel efficiency, though I will admit that I'm not as regimented about it as I would be when the prices go up.

Still, I try to do things like:

  • keep my tires inflated
  • avoid jackrabbit starts and stops
  • anticipate red lights and coast accordingly

As I said, though, higher prices do definitely make you more aware of your driving habits.

Take, for example, a recent trip.  A few weeks ago, my wife and I were driving to ‘up north' Michigan for our anniversary.  The total round trip was about 600 miles.

The vehicle we were taking gets around 20 MPG on the highway.  So, that worked out to about 30 gallons of fuel.  In the weeks leading up to the trip, the prices were around $2.65, which would cost roughly $79.50.

Two days or so before the trip, Murphy's Law hit and some oil pipeline a few hundred miles away was shut down, and prices overnight went up 10% to about $2.95 per gallon.

I couldn't believe our luck, and re-calculated our gas budget at $88.50, a $9 difference!

Because of the increase, though, I focused a little harder on driving efficiently.  By reducing our trip speed an average of 2-5MPH, we got 21 MPG.  Doing so caused us to use slightly less fuel (28.57 gallons based on the 600 mile round trip).  Although the cost (at $2.95 per gallon) was $84.28 and cost us more than the original budget at the lower prices, paying a little more attention still saved us a few bucks.

I'm all about keeping money in our pocket and out of the pockets of the oil companies, so even though it was ‘only' $4, I was still happy to make a little change to save the few bucks.