Ok so on with the post. What can you do to Surf Gas Prices in LA, that is to stay comfortably on top of the flow towards higher and higher prices? Answer is, "live without using much gas (duh)!" Here's 5 things that Usedcarsalesman has been doing:
1. GPS - If you are navigation-challenged like me, drive a low-tech, paid-for car (Old Jeep Wrangler, in my case) and go to new places in L.A. on an almost daily basis, then it pays to buy a cheap, hand-held GPS and use it in your car! These navigational units are worth their weight in platinum and Usedcarsalesman doesn't want to talk about how much time, gas and stress it has saved him over the last 2 and a half years in LA.
A few years ago, he pulled in to L.A., Thomas Guide already in hand. Usedcarsalesman drove around to the numerous places he'd need to go to get set up. Thomas Guide was in his lap, he's looking down at the guide or talking on a phone while driving; now, he's not saying that he was a safety hazard or anything, but... After a few days of this, Usedcarsalesman was so fed up with his coffee-stained, deteriorating Thomas Guide that he took immediate, drastic action -- he decided to pay retail for an electronic device! He drove over to the West Marine store in Marina Del Ray and plunked down money for a Garmin GPS V.
Now, Usedcarsalesman had bought a Garmin GPS for his Dad for a Christmas present in 1995; it was one of the connect-the-dots, map-less kind, but the thing worked like a charm. The 7 years newer GPS V was and is a vast improvement over that one and works like a cheap Street Pilot; it comes with North American maps on a CD, you put it on a mount on your dash and lock it up when you park your vehicle. All he can say is that every drive in my old Jeep was and is pure A-to-B, no getting lost, no wasted time, no wasted gas. Usedcarsalesman could mount this GPS unit on a Ford Model T or a Horse and Buggy and it would work just as well; the device simply provides drivers with an economy that most people have yet to realize. Usedcarsalesman paid $500 a few years ago, but you can get one for $200 today!! And you can impress people who will ask you, "how the hell did you get here so fast?"
2. Grocery Delivery Conventional wisdom on this is that you have to be rich or a super-busy professional to make grocery delivery worthwhile. Usedcarsaleman disagrees. Reality is that if you order your items on-line from Vons and are willing to take delivery within a 4 hour window, say 7-11pm on a weeknight, then the charge is only $7.95; and one of their drivers told Usedcarsalesman that they are not allowed to accept tips.
When you order on-line, your grocery purchases are kept in the company's database -- a resource which makes repeat-shopping for your usual stuff fast and easy. Usedcarsalesman can usually place an order for 7 days worth of food in about 15 minutes and there's no lines and shopping cart congestion, no parking lot dings and wrestling for parking spaces, no searching for things, no finding a cart and putting a cart away, no carrying 4 bags in each hand walking up three flights of stairs (Von's drivers wisely use crates, dollies and elevators to move deliveries around). Better still, Von's even has a fairly good selection of deliverable office supplies. Sure Usedcarsalesman is a Trader Joe's guy, too. He knows, He knows. But TJs needs to cut a deal with Von's to do home delivery for customers.
Sum total of all this is you are not on the road, traffic congestion (admittedly only slightly) and gas expenditures are reduced, and time is saved.
3. On-line Shopping in General - Who doesn't shop on-line? Exactly. Thing about me is that, Usedcasalesman shops for just about every tangible thing that he needs on-line. He generally avoids state tax and he's not doing the shopping cart, traffic congestion, parking lot, line-waiting crap at the local Sav-On, Rite-Aid, Home "Despot."
Sometimes, the prices are ludicrously good. Usedcarsalesman bought a Samsung "extended life" battery for 19.95 and 3 bucks shipping; his local Sprint store wanted $40 and tax for a "standard life" battery (then throw in my aforementioned refrain about "parking lots). He wouldn't be surprised if an increase in on-line shopping is directly tied to an increase in energy costs.
So, Usedcarsalesman ordered the electronics and other items on-line and then has them delivered to a mail box store. Once a week he goes to the store and pick up anything that he ordered. The people running the mail box center sign for everything for him so there is never the "you weren't here, you can pick up your package at our convenient Tuscon location," that kind of thing. Fact is that Usedcarsalesman gets what he needs and he doesn't waste time or gas and also saves money!
*4. Netflix et al- Look, video entertainment, for the most part, is not something you should be driving around for. Mailing stuff back and forth is a little 1970s chain-letter-ish (sic), but we'll let that slide. Don't drive to Blockbuster video store (see my gas and parking lot refrain). Yes, order Neflix and get it delivered in the mail; yes, they will be providing Hi Def DVDs next year, too. Better yet, do pay-per-view by Satellite or Digital cable or use Starz Online hooked to by S-VHS or Optical to your TV monitor. Usedcarsalesman does these things and it keeps his heavy-drinking Old Jeep off the road!
5. Teleconference - Hey, even locally, it is an excellent way to see your friends and coworkers, not to mention if you are doing it nationally or internationally. The quality on some services -- like Yahoo IM -- is fairly solid, 30 frames per second (but, yes does have somewhat imperfect audio). This keeps Usedcarsalesman off the road in a lot of cases and its a more complete communication that a telephone call. He knows you are thinking that teleconferencing is like having the family Thanksgiving dinner by video with your Uncle who's on "Death Row" at the "Super-Max" :). But it's actually a lot of fun and you don't even have to bathe to see people or do business! Big future in teleconferencing sales, BTW. And, did Usedcarsalesman mention that it keeps you off the road and away from Airports.
Ok Usedcarsalesman will admit that the aforementioned 5 things are not for everybody and he knows he is probably missing a ton of other things you can do such as commute or take the bus. Also, there are people who are going to want Bio-diesel-Hybrid autos (including me) and have a fetish for playing Roy Rogers on the 50 cent plastic horse rides at the grocery stores (no comment :). But, for Usedcarsalesman, the bottom line is that if he gets in a car outside of going to work or to a class, it is generally to have fun, ie. restaurants, clubs, parties, sporting events, etc). He doesn't think any of those are a waste of time or gas -- regardless of price. And, even then, his time on the road is minimal.