How 'Extreme Savers' save on gas
As the gas crisis roils the nation, checks in with past Extreme Savers to see how they're coping.
By Christian Zappone, staff writer

NEW YORK ( - With the gas crisis in full swing and little relief in sight, every motorist is feeling the pain - although how they cope with it varies from driver to driver. For those accustomed to economizing the extreme times call for increased measures. For others, the skyrocketing cost of gas can be taken in stride. checks in with a couple of Extreme Savers in the past to see how they're managing.

Clare Cheesman, pictured with children Kelly and Brian, watches gas prices closely.
Clare Cheesman, pictured with children Kelly and Brian, watches gas prices closely.
Rob and Michelle Parker thought about driving when they bought their home.
Rob and Michelle Parker thought about driving when they bought their home.

Clare Cheesman, profiled last November for her thrift and resourcefulness, has been stepping up her gas-saving efforts.

She says she has always consolidated her trips, running errands on her way to work, a fifteen mile commute, but now she's making sure her oil changes are kept up to date so her car runs more efficiently and consumes less gas.

And she's being extra careful about wasting time. "I use Yahoo maps and even call a store before I go to make sure they have what I want."

Cheesman is also not above a little gamesmanship when it comes to filling the tank. Gas goes for about $2.84 a gallon in Rochester Hills, Michigan, where Cheesman lives. She watches the gas prices daily, noting what day they're most likely to rise. "I buy it in the middle of the week. Monday's are bad. If it goes down it will be on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday."

The strategy isn't foolproof, but Jason Toews, co-founder of the gas price tracking site,, says there's something to the theory. According to Toews, there's a dominant gas-station brand in every region's market that's owned by the same company as the refinery for that region. The dominant brand sets the price at its stations and the competitors then take a couple days to adjust their prices in response.

So by buying in the days preceding the herd effect -- which is most likely to happen on Thursday in Cheesman's region, according to Toews -- Cheesman is outsmarting the market.

Location, location, location

Rob and Michelle Parker had already learned their lesson on the cost of gas. In college, Rob used to make a 97 mile trip daily between Rome, Georgia, where he lived, and Atlanta where his university was located. The drive, in which he began "pumping the brakes" 50 miles from his destination, made Rob determined to minimize commuting as part of his lifestyle.

When settling down in Florida, the couple found a home about 1 mile from their place of work, with shops located between the two. The close proximity is "one of the reasons we chose this place to live."

The Parkers own a Nissan Xterra full sized SUV but with a one mile commute, gas costs them only $40 every two weeks. The cost is, by the Extreme Saver's own admission, "just lost in the noise...It doesn't even phase us."

"We were willing to pay a premium for a conveniently located house." And in the time of crisis, the premium has been well worth the price.


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