Friday, December 28, 2012

Double your Mpg

As most of you probably know by now, my goal is to eventually find a good cheap motorcycle to use as my primary means of transportation. I think that when gasoline climbs to five and six bucks a gallon (and more) then having a way of getting from here to there at 70 MPG will allow me to get around without breaking the bank. A bicycle is the best way to go as far as cheap transportation is concerned but not very practical if you travel more than 10 or 15 miles a day.

And to be honest, most people will not want to use a bicycle or even a small motorcycle or scooter for their transportation needs. If you live in an area that has extended winters with lots of ice and snow, or you have a family with small children still living at home, anything but an automobile just won’t do. So how can you afford to put gas in the car when prices start to skyrocket? The answer is of course to use Hypermiling techniques to stretch every drop of fuel to its limit.

You’ve probably heard the term before but what exactly is Hypermiling? Hypermiling is the act of operating your motor vehicle in the most fuel efficient manner possible. Some of the techniques that hypermilers practice range from common sense strategies like keeping their car properly tuned, to the more eccentric strategies such as keeping the windows rolled up and never using the AC-even in middle of summer! Some of the ideas people use can be downright dangerous. Running stop signs, and tailgating the car in front of you to reduce wind resistance.

There are many different techniques people have come up with over the years to reduce their consumption of gasoline, so let’s take a look at some of them and see if there are any you can use to fight the high prices at the pump. First let’s look at the more practical ideas that just make too much sense not to implement.
   Make sure your tires are inflated to the maximum level suggested. Keep a good tire gauge in your car and check tire pressure regularly. Some people inflate tires to levels exceeding the recommended maximum to reduce rolling resistance. Be advised though that this will reduce your breaking ability and give you a more bone jarring ride, so be forewarned.

    Change the oil in your car religiously. Use one with low viscosity for best results. Most hypermilers recommend a good synthetic oil and claim that the increased cost is more than offset by the savings in fuel.

    Make sure tires are aligned and properly balanced. You will burn up much more gas if not because it takes a lot of extra energy to keep a car on the road if its tendency is to pull to the left or right.

    Empty the trunk of useless junk. If it’s not part of your emergency supplies like a spare tire and jack, jumper cables, etc. then get rid of it. The lighter your vehicle is the less fuel you need to propel your ass down the road.

    Reduce drag (and weight) by removing any unneeded, external items attached to your vehicle such as bike racks, cargo carriers, etc. Less weight and less drag equals less fuel consumed.

    Drive at slower speeds. Your vehicle uses much more fuel at 70 Mph than it does at 60. It uses even less gas at 50 or 55 Mph, so use the slow lane whenever possible. You’ll still get where you’re going, only with more money in your pocket!

Now that we’ve covered the more basic, common sense tips you should know let’s look at some of the more “advanced” techniques that will keep you rolling on past the gas pump. Remember to avoid stop and go traffic like the plague. It takes a lot of fuel to get a vehicle moving from a dead stop so always keep it moving, if at all possible, once in motion.

    Don’t drive in rush hour traffic if you don’t have to. A traffic jam is the worse place to be if you want to conserve fuel. With all of the stopping and going and all of the idle time spent you are probably getting fuel economy in the single digit range, even with a fuel efficient auto.

    If rush hour driving can’t be avoided then give the car ahead of you plenty of room and go as slow as you can when the car in front of you stops. With luck the car in front of you will start moving again before you actually have to apply the brakes. This can be a tricky technique to get the hang of because you will likely have people cutting in front of you often. Again, it’s best to avoid times of high traffic.

    Use the cruise control. If you’re like most people you have a tendency to let the speed creep up without even being conscious of it. Get in the slow lane and set the cruise control to the minimum speed that is safe. An exception to this rule is if you are traveling on a roadway with lots of hills. Going up a hill will force the cruise control to kick in and burn more gas to maintain the set speed.

    When going uphill allow your speed to steadily decrease as you ascend.  You’ll still get over the hill and then you can slowly build up your speed to its previous level.

    If not traveling too slow once over a hill shift into neutral (if you are driving a stick shift) and coast down the other side. Your engine will be at idle speed and therefore burn a lot less gas until you actually have to shift it back into gear.

1  When first taking off build speed up as slow as you reasonably can. Just because your car can go from 0 to 60 in nine or ten seconds doesn’t mean you have to. Take at least 25 or 30 seconds to get up to speed. Sometimes this just means waiting on cars to go by. Don’t jump out in front of rapidly moving traffic if you don’t need to.

1  Take the route with the least amount of traffic signals and stop signs between you and your destination. Even if you have to travel an extra mile or two you might still save gas as well as time by not having to stop and go all the time.

1  Use your brakes as little as possible. If you see a red light up ahead of you then take your foot off the gas pedal and coast up to the light. Not only does your gas consumption drop when you take your foot off of the accelerator but you buy a bit of time for the light to change. With luck it will change before you get there and you won’t even have to stop. Drive like you have no brakes at all.

1  Add a Scanguage fuel economy computer to your vehicle (1996 or newer) to track your Mpg in real time. This might well be the best thing you can do to increase overall fuel efficiency. The price is a bit high but it should pay for itself in a matter of months.

These are but a few of the many hypermile techniques you can implement to reduce your overall fuel consumption. If you only practice the ones presented here you should be able to achieve a 25 to 30 percent increase in Mpg-even in your current vehicle. If you practice and learn the many other hypermile strategies that exist you can increase that number even more.
But if you really want to double your Mpg you should not only practice these and other Hypermiling techniques you should trade in your current vehicle for the most fuel efficient auto that you can afford.  In the next article I’m going to do a roundup of some of the most fuel stingy cars on the road, and NO I’m not going to be discussing hybrids. This is Cheap- Ass-Living so I’ll only be talking about older fuel efficient autos that you can find for next to nothing.

Thanks everyone    Tex Dakota

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Beans and Rice

Can you possibly think of anything more boring to discuss than the subject of Beans and Rice? I know that many of you probably think this article is going to be a bit of a snoozer but for anyone that needs to eat at the lowest possible cost a basic “beans and rice” diet just can’t be beat. This does not mean that you have to eat nothing but these two food items day in and day out. What it does mean however is that if you keep plenty of these low cost foods on hand then you will never have to worry about where your next meal is going to come from.

Right now as I type this up you can get a twenty pound bag of Pinto beans at Wally’s Wide World of junk (Aka Wal-Mart) for about $17.00. A twenty pound bag of white rice is about $10.00. That’s forty pounds of food for less than thirty bucks. The caloric value of a pound of dry, uncooked white rice is approximately 1620, whereas a pound of dried pinto beans is about 1575 calories. If you actually go out and buy a twenty pound bag of white rice and a twenty pound bag of pinto beans you will have yourself 64,000 calories worth of food. Based on an average daily diet of 2,000 calories you will have a 32 day supply of grub. That’s less than a dollar a day per person. Pretty damn cheap!

Beans and rice together will provide you all of the essential amino acids your body requires so it is entirely possible to live off of nothing but these two foods for an extended period of time. I know that some will argue that brown rice is much more nutrient dense than white rice, and this is true but in addition to being more costly, brown rice does not have anywhere near the shelf life that white rice does. For those looking for basic emergency/survival foods that are cheap then white rice (with beans) just can’t be beat. You can store white rice for more than a year with little to no degradation in quality. If properly stored then white rice even two or three years old will still be eatable and provide the body with useful energy. Dried beans store as well if not better than white rice.

I think it’s pretty clear that anyone preparing for the hard times ahead should seriously consider adding plenty of these basic foods to their stockpile. If you only have a three month supply of storage foods on hand right now and you feel that this is inadequate then you can literally double your supply overnight for less than a hundred dollars per person. Not a bad deal.

I have been stockpiling beans and rice for a while now and have plenty of these basic survival foods on hand. If for some reason I were not able to leave the house for months and months I would have plenty of food to sustain me. Let me state right now though, I do not advocate an emergency stash of nothing but beans and rice. I know some people suggest buying wheat in large quantities for a “survival stash”, and wheat certainly does have its merits, but you also need a good dependable grinder which adds a bit of complexity to the equation. But you can walk into almost any store and grab a bag of beans and/or rice right now and have them ready to eat in no time.

Since this blog is aimed more at survival in the here and now and not in a future time when a comet strikes the earth like in the novel “Lucifers Hammer”, or a super volcano plunges us into a three year long nuclear winter I would suggest that you rotate your stock. Don’t go out and buy several hundred pounds of food and bury it in the backyard if your goal is to do some Cheap-Ass-Living now. 

Label your supplies with the date it was purchased and store in a cool dry place away from any vermin. Polyurethane buckets (food grade) are perfect containers to store these items in. You can stack em and easily move them around when needed. Most preppers suggest that you add oxygen absorbers to storage foods and gamma lids to the buckets. This is not really necessary however if you store everything in the proper manner and rotate your stock in a timely fashion. Remember, “first in first out.”

I look at a beans and rice based diet like this. When you build a house in the conventional style you first construct a frame. Once that is done you then fill in everything else such as the roof, the walls, etc. Once that is done you finish it out to your personal preferences. The same is true with what we are discussing here. Build your frame-beans and rice. Add the roof and walls-other cheap food items like wheat/flour, corn meal, pasta, sugar, etc. Then finish it out to your liking-fresh veggies, spices, meats, and so on. 

Remember, we are poor so to achieve self-sufficiency on a limited budget we build on a “pay as you go” basis. I’m starting my dietary framework as cheap as I can with plenty of beans and rice, how about you?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I wrote articles three different times only to have them lost when my computer crashed before they were edited and posted. I am using the blogger platform which is not exactly the best, but since it’s free (and since I’m a cheap bastard) it’s what I use. This has all been very discouraging to me and I started to say “screw it” but I am going to continue with this blog as often as I can because this kind of info needs to be widely available. I think a lot of people need ideas that will allow them to live on smaller incomes. From now on I will write everything in Word and then copy and paste it.

Also someone broke into camp 420 stealing all my shit! I went out to my zombie hideout the other day and found out (to my complete disappointment) someone had broken in and ransacked the place. They stole some things I had stashed back for my “declaration of independence” from the man, and trashed the place! The things they took were minor and monetary loss wasn’t that great but that’s not the point. The real issue is that they broke in to my place and violated my personal sanctuary. It’s true I wasn’t living there yet but it still pissed me off. This has also been rather discouraging. I will be giving serious thoughts to security issues in the future.

Well the “election” is now over and the commie, Kenyan, Idiot has retained power. Surprise, surprise. I was never a supporter of the Rockefeller Republican, Mitt Romney but we’ve seen what the “HNIC” has done over the last four years. I’m pretty sure Romney would have been a disaster but with the current dimwit in control it is virtually assured. I think we were (are) headed for collapse no matter who was chosen by the powers that be. But I think it will be much quicker now that “bathhouse Berry” is at the helm for another four years, so time to double up.

So now that our destruction is virtually assured it’s time to start stocking up on the basics if you haven’t already. Get out of debt soon, the sooner the better, and then stockpile/hoard as much food as you possibly can. I know your poor but you can still stash back hundreds of pounds of basic food items for next to nothing-at least for now.

This won’t always be the case so take advantage of the opportunity while it still exists. I have been stockpiling beans and rice for a while and have close to a years supply. Every week I spend a few extra dollars on my emergency supply and it has really built up. Thank goodness I didn’t have it all stored at camp 420!

Are you still going to be able to pay the rent/mortgage when the economy collapses? If you are not sure that you can then what will be your backup plan? Do you have friends and relatives who will take you in when times are tuff? Will they still have a place to live when times are hard? These are questions you need to start asking yourself NOW. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Also remember good warm clothing and blankets, or a good sleeping bag. Basic lighting needs like candles and L.E.D, lighting is essential so build up your supply and don’t forget a couple of good flashlights.

I need guest articles. This blog is about living (and survival) on the cheap. I am certainly no expert on the subject but I think I know a couple of things that would be of use to others. Unfortunately I don’t know everything so I am asking your help in making this blog into a true resource for those who need to live on a small amount of money.

I have learned that I can’t do it alone so I am going to start accepting guest articles.  If you have anything to write about on the subject then please consider contributing to this blog. I think that if we pull our collective knowledge and experience then we can create a treasure trove of cheap living info for anyone who is on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. I am especially interested in people who are able to live comfortably on as little money as possible. Anyone who wants to share their experience here with others will be a big help.

For those who are interested in submitting an article, please go to the contact page where you will find my email address. Send it to me and more than likely I will post it. All that I ask is that it is an original unpublished article that you have written. I will give you credit for it, or if you choose, I will post it anonymously. Thank you to everyone.