At a buck a mile, shopping locally is a frugal choice

I've written before about the hidden costs of driving; maintenance, depreciation and insurance. The IRS allowable deduction is a good catch-all number for estimating the cost of travel. It currently stands at $.505 per mile.

This makes it easy to estimate the cost of a round trip; the number of miles one way is about the number of dollars it will cost you. I found this very sobering when I began to consider the places I normally travel.

Each week, I meet with a writing group in a local library. The library is 4.54 miles away, so each meeting costs me $4.59, or around $250 per year. I hope that my writing improves each year by at least this much!

My good friends Brian and Carolyn live on the other side of Columbus, 21.42 miles away. Our Friday night get-togethers costs whichever drives to the other's house $21.63, before we even depart for a restaurant.

My in-laws live in Dayton, 74.68 miles away. A quick trip back and forth costs my wife and I $75.

With the weather turning so nice, I'd like to take my kayak to the beautiful Paint Creek State Park for some fishing, but the $80 price tag has me wetting my hull closer to home.

As Memorial Day approaches, I'll probably make the trek up to Canton to visit my pop, although the $130 will cost me to travel the 250 mile round trip, meaning more hot dogs than steaks on the grill.

What destinations are on your weekly route? Google Maps and Mapquest both make it very easy to check out your true driving distances. Or maybe you don't want to know.

Before making that trip to WalMart to save a few bucks, think about the cost of driving the extra distance. At a buck a mile, shopping local makes a whole lot more sense, as does shopping via the internet

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