23 June 2008

Tips for saving gasoline

Here is an interesting post with some analysis of how to improve your gasoline mileage...

Inner Economist

If you're looking for an entertaining and interesting read, then you might want to check out Tyler Cowen's most recent book Discover Your Inner Economist. I read it over the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's more a book about life and how to make yourself a bit of a better person, and how you can use some simple economic principles to do so.

To bus or not to bus?

I've been rolling around the idea in my head of riding the CAT bus to work as a substitute for driving my 2000 Honda Civic about 40 miles round-trip each day. The expenditures on gas aren't affecting me too much (yet), but I'd like to save the money that I'm spending on gas and reduce some of my carbon emissions. Now I've come across this morsel of information that has really got me weighing the costs and benefits of not using my car for commuting to work.
The Internal Revenue Service allows businesses to invest funds, tax free, in
alternative transportation for employees. Currently, employers can provide up to
$115 a month in qualified transportation benefits. These can include van pools,
bus tickets and other mass-transit options.

And even if my employer isn't hip to paying for my transportation costs to get to and from work everyday, I can always try this:

If the employer can't afford to do that, another option that's available is
to implement a flex-spending plan for employee transportation.
Under this provision, employees can have up to $115 a month deducted, pretax, for
transportation expenses and another $200 a month can be deducted pretax for
parking expenses.

"That has no cost to the employer, but because it is pretax, that would
help employees," Thalacker said. "You don't see this used often. I've only had
one employer call me about that provision."

22 June 2008


If high oil prices persist, we could be seeing a large drop in world trade.
Paul Krugman thinks so...

21 June 2008

Micro Mania

An article in Time purports that the rapid growth in micro-finance could be the cause of future financial market turmoil.

Recent history says that when a financial trend gets popular, it gets riskier too. Think subprime mortgages.
Any lending venture involves a degree of risk, but the more I think about it I don't see "micro-finance" causing any "major" problems. The whole idea is to make small loans. Even if default rates skyrocket on these loans at some point in the future, there won't be billions of dollars at stake.

Related Links: Private Sector Development Blog, Marginal Revolution

19 June 2008

Take the good with the bad

High gas prices may be hurting your finances (I know they are impacting mine), but with some bad always comes some good.