I was just reading the news online that gas prices are expected to rise to at least an average of $3.75 in 2008. In California, it will be over $4.00 a gallon! Glad I don't live in CA anymore!
When I had my pick-up truck, I knew a few places that had cheaper gas, and would try to aim for those locations to fill up. I tried to line up my errands to include the stop at the gas station, and try not to go out of my way unnecessarily.
Now that I'm car-free, I think about what errands I can run on my way to and from work...and am seeking and choosing places that are along my route. When it comes time to find a new dentist and doctor next year, I'll look for ones near home or work, that I can walk or bike to. It's like when you move to a new home, you find businesses nearby to replace the ones you had in your old location, so that you don't have to drive all the way back to your old area. Most of the time, there are businesses that can be found nearby. One business I go to often is a stained glass store, for supplies. Unfortunately, the nearest one is about 40 miles away. Although, I could always order supplies online when possible, to save time and money. So, it's a matter of changing your way of thinking about how to obtain items that are needed - there are multiple ways to get the task done, and doesn't always have to include having a car. Fortunately, I live in an area that has a lot of stores nearby, so you don't have to travel too far.
This morning on my way to work, I was in search of a fine white marker, to use in a stained glass project. So I stopped at CVS to see if they had anything. They didn't, so then I thought perhaps the Kinko's down the road might. They had a white-out pen that might work, so I got that. But then I remembered after I got to work, that there's an art store near my office that I could check with. I called and they did have what I needed, so I will drop by there on my bike ride home. I'll also stop by a strip shopping mall to get my hair cut. Since it's supposed to rain tomorrow night, tonight would be the better night. The hair place is located right off of the bike path, in Crystal City. Nice and handy! Couldn't ask for it to be easier! :)
Last Friday, I biked to work as usual, but then left my bike at work and took the Metro to National Airport to catch a flight out of town for the long Christmas weekend. Earlier in the week, I had brought in my traveling clothes in a couple of loads in my extra pannier. I could have borrowed my roommate's car and parked it at the airport, then biked in from there. But daily parking is about $10 a day...and it would add up to about $50 while I was away. Instead, after I got back into town, I took the subway back to my office (15 min. ride) and changed into my bike clothes that I had left there, and hopped on my bike to head home - stopping at the bank and 7-11 to get some things. I got home shortly before dark. Sure, it took me 2 hours to accomplish this, but I saved $50, and got some exercise to work off some of the Christmas holiday treats! :)
One thing I want to do in the New Year is to set up another savings account (at a bank that has a coin machine, so I can turn in the change I find along the way!). In the account, I want to put in the monthly amount I specifically save by not having a car - which is about $140 a month, minimum. It'll be nice to see how that adds up over the years - a tangible item that can show the fruits of my labor, you might say, from biking! :) In that book I read, "How to Live Car Free" - the author included many testimonies from people who had gone Car Free, and how they had saved up enough money to buy a house, to retire early, to take nice vacations, etc. It's nice to have a way to SHOW for your efforts, vs. just spending the extra money you save.