How to deal with loved ones who confuse you with a chauffeur

With the cost of gas on the rise and our investments on the way down, the price of being a loved one's unpaid personal driver is even more burdensome. And who couldn't use a little more me time in their weekly schedule?

Of course, those who take advantage of one's willingness to run them around on errands are usually elderly relatives or friends who are wise enough to yield their driver's licenses when no longer able to control a vehicle. So freeing yourself from such obligations will take tact and determination.

Start by doing some research. What other options are available for your passenger? Does the city provide buses? Does his/her church have volunteers for such requests? How much would a taxi cost? Are there others nearby with whom your loved one (YLO) could share the cost of a taxi? Is there a neighbor that might chauffer YLO for a fee? How about other relatives? Could you call upon them to take a turn in a regular rotation?

Second, calculate your cost of providing such rides. Remember, the average car costs over 50 cents a mile to operate. Add to this the opportunity cost of the time lost. If you could have mowed your own lawn if you had the time, then the $28 a week you paid a service is part of an opportunity cost calculation.

Third, look at the trips you're making with YLO. Are they on the most efficient schedule? Can you visit different stores, or bundle trips more wisely?

Fourth, ask yourself, is a ride what YLO really wants? Perhaps he/she really wants conversation, a chance to keep involved in your life, a reason to get out of the house? If so, are there other ways to serve this need? Perhaps they are more lonely than in need of shopping.

If you still find yourself in need of backing away from the commitment, there are a couple of steps that could help. Make the time slightly inconvenient; during YLO's favorite television show, for example. Schedule your grocery shopping and YLOs together, and go to a store they aren't particularly fond of. Ask them to help pay for gas. Such steps will help assure that the trips, when made, are necessary.

And, finally, convince yourself that your convenience is as important as YLOs, and hold your ground. You'll reduce your lingering resentment, and might even find yourself enjoying your time together.

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