In September, we made four visits to WinCo, spending an average of $75 per visit. The round-trip distance is 16 miles; let’s assume, for clarity’s sake, that I made all the trips by car. We’ve been getting 16 miles per gallon in The Little Red Pig Wagon, so that’s easy: $3 per trip. NEXT!
Not so fast. Operating a car is more than just buying gas. There are other costs associated with vehicle ownership: registration and title fees; maintenance; insurance and, in some areas, personal property tax; repairs; and, for many people, the car payment itself. The IRS uses a figure of 50 cents per mile for business travel deduction; is that reasonable for us as well? Let’s have a look.
Based on my recent driving, we are on the low end of car use: 400 miles in the last month, for an annual total of 4,800 miles. But what I’m after is the cost per mile for this vehicle, so here are the numbers, rounded up slightly for convenience:
Gas: .19 ($3 per gallon/16 miles per gallon)
Title/reg: .02 ($120/4800 miles)
Maint: .01 ($20 oil change/3000 miles)
Insurance .12 ($50 per month/400 miles)
Repair: .10 ($500 per year/4800 miles)
Total: .44 per mile
The IRS number seems plausible, trading higher fuel mileage for a car payment, but I’ll work with my actual cost of 44 cents per mile. That 16-mile round trip really costs $7.04, doesn’t it? It’s a good thing I’m stocking up while I’m out there. As it happens, I could make the trip by bicycle. I have a good, used road bike and a sturdy trailer; I could probably make the trip in just under an hour; so, that would be $3.52 per hour back in my pocket for getting exercise and keeping 20 lbs. of CO2 out of the atmosphere. I’ll have to try that when I have the time, which is sadly not today.
The trips to Safeway are not so easy to decipher. We made 11 visits there last month, averaging $16 per visit. I’ll often stop there while I’m out doing other things, so I don’t often make a straight round-trip from here to there. If I did, it would cost…3 x 0.44 = $1.32. Eleven such trips would run $14.52 for a month; that’s enough to notice, isn’t it?
There’s more to this story, of course, but I’ve got to go, so I’ll pick it up again another time. Have a good weekend!