Drive more efficiently: Improve your finances and your health
I recently drove to Wales from my home in England. This was a 400 mile round trip and my little Honda Civic just about made it on a single tank. I can usually only manage 320 miles before I need to refuel. This increased range is obviously nothing to be surprised about due to the fact that I was driving long distance. However, it did make me think about how driving habits affect fuel efficiency.
Anyway, at the end of my trip, having driven quite conservatively for the last few miles, I pulled into a petrol station with my fuel light on and that made me think up a little experiment. The premise was very simple. I would fill up my tank, drive more sensibly than I normally do and see how far I could travel before needing to refuel. I know. I need to get out more, but it seemed like an interesting idea at the time so I started driving like a sensible human being and ended up increasing my fuel efficiency by 10% in the process. Again, not surprising, but what are the financial consequences of this? Well, I spend about £150/month on fuel, so let’s say this would save me £15/month. Applying one of my favourite mind hacks, I ask myself “how much would money would I need to invest to receive a return of £15 per month?”. If we assume a rate of return equal to 6%, then the answer is £3000. Not driving like a moron has the same impact on my finances as investing £3000 in property…And that’s just me. I don’t even drive that much. Your results could be much more dramatic if you do a lot of driving.
At no point during my experiment did I ever need to slow down other road users or do anything that was dangerous, such as coast or merge from slip roads at 40 mph. Yes, old people. I’m talking about you! Merging at such a low speed is dangerous. Your license should be taken away and you should be made to do a modern test. Anyway, my point is that I was just driving more efficiently, not dramatically increasing the length of my journeys. By doing simple things like accelerating more gently and moving more fluidly instead of constantly stopping and starting, you can make decent savings on your fuel bill. As an added bonus, this kind of driving style puts less wear and tear on your car and can result in lower maintenance costs.
The biggest surprise for me during my experiment was not the amount of money I was saving. It was the quality of life improvement I was experiencing. It’s easy to become addicted to the hustle and bustle of modern life. I can barely make my way through a brief conversation nowadays without checking various email accounts, Google Analytics, all the usual social network nonsense and the value of my stock portfolio. This kind of behaviour is unhealthy. I know what it’s like to be so busy that when I go to bed my mind still feels like it’s cranking away on problems even though I’m not thinking about anything. I used to meditate, so I also know what it’s like to feel so free and focused that I think I can achieve anything I want. Making a conscious effort to slow down and understand that I can’t move any quicker than traffic will let me has helped ease the unwanted mind chatter. Knowing that there is no meaning in rushing to work or to a friend’s house has generally made me more relaxed and aware of my own thinking.
Drive more efficiently. Save money, help the environment and improve your psychological health.