Coping with gas prices: Find alternatives

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With gas prices at a record high, fuel costs are draining the wallets of many. Where do you pinch pennies to siphon extra cash into your tank? Are you pulling from your savings or your entertainment budget?

What if you didn’t need to spend any more on gas than you did a year ago, even in the face of these prices?

Through our newsletter, we recently asked Bankrate readers how they were coping with rising gas prices. In their replies, many said they shucked their automobiles — or at least greatly reduced the amount of time they spend behind the wheel.

Whether biking, walking or riding public transportation, our readers often found multiple perks from their creative ways around the price spike. Several are exercising more. One spends less time in the office, and another traded traffic for reading on the train.

Could one of these solutions work for you? Read on and find out.

Tips from readers
We just moved last year to Southern California. Before we left Florida we sold one of our vehicles. We haven’t replaced it yet, and because of the increase in gas prices, we’ve decided to see how difficult life would be if we continue sharing one automobile. We are retired now and most things are within walking distance for me in our little village. So far it’s worked fairly well. It’s always been easy to just jump in the car to dash about, and now I can appreciate how many useless trips I used to make. I’m also getting a lot more exercise because if my spouse takes the car to the golf course, it forces me to walk up to the market and bank.
— J.K.N.

With gas prices going through the roof, I’ve started telecommuting more. I work from home at least three days a week now, sometimes the entire week. Not only am I saving on outrageous gas prices, I’m putting less toxins into the environment and I’m able to walk to daycare to pick up my son at the end of my workday. More exercise is good too!
— Michelle

My commute is 19 miles each way, by interstate. It’s 1.5 hours each way by bike-on-the-bus and biking alone. Since the snow went away I was averaging one day a week by bike/bus. Now I’m trying for four days per week, and up to two or three so far.

I also work with the local bicycle advocacy nonprofit group,, and encouraging everyone to ride their bikes to work, the store, errands, etc. We’re working with the local agencies as well to make improvements to bicycling facilities such as parking structures and road-share markings.
— L.N.

Yes, it’s true, I have altered my transportation habits to and from work. Last Monday, I left my car at work and took BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) home. It’s $4 per way, and I live about 30 miles from work. At over $4.50 per gallon for 91 octane (required in my car), it made economic sense to use BART. Once at my destination, I took the bus to my home. Now, I ride my bike to the BART station in the morning, leave it there, and ride it home in the evening. My car is still in the work garage. It takes longer to get to and from work, but now I get exercise daily, and time to fully read the paper and magazines. And I don’t miss filling up the gas tank at all.
— Randy W.

(I’ve stopped driving) to town for shopping that can be accessed by the train. We’re using more public transportation.
— M.S.

I am a retiree with limited amount of funds coming in each month. In my hometown, Houston, one can ride the buses for free if you are aged 70 and over. I live in walking distance of a supermarket, so I walk to the store when I need food. I have a large canvas bag that holds all the food I purchase at the supermarket. I have a post office box across town and I usually drive to the post office. Gas prices in Houston average $3.70 per gallon, and if prices continue to rise to $4 a gallon, I will use the bus. I have canceled vacation time on the road and only use my automobile for urgent needs. I remember the rationing of food and fuels during World War II, so I am prepared for hard times if necessary.
— Lowry M.

I just put our second car up for sale and took my bike out of storage. I’ll save money both on gas and insurance. I also sold all my stocks and put our summer home up for sale.
— Leo

Unfortunately, the price of oil affects gas, clothing, food, etc.

We parked my wife’s minivan in front of the house. Can’t afford to run it or pay for it anymore. No one will buy it. Finance company won’t take it. Stopped payments. Waiting for the repo man to show up.

We use my subcompact sparingly. I like mass transit so far.

We walk anywhere within a mile of home. Recently bought a shopping cart for food shopping.
— T.S.

Ride my bicycle every place that is not over five miles one way. Also, I will not be buying anything that I can’t carry on my bike.
— Eugene H.

(I am) investigating telecommuting a day a week. My boss doesn’t generally go for it, but if prices go much higher, we’ll have to look into it. Many in our facility in other groups do it and are just as productive, and the corporation is encouraging it as well. It also leads to a bit more balanced work/home life and would add an hour or more of available time for the days I didn’t have to drive in.
— Charles O.

Compiled by Rose Raymond.