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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Frugal Corner: Cost of driving outpaces fuel

While fuel costs have dropped recently, the overall cost of driving hasn’t changed much as other costs go up, according to a new AAA survey.

The AAA analysis found that the average cost of a new sedan, driven 15,000 miles per year, is 54 cents per mile. That’s down a tenth of a cent from 2008.

The AAA analysis includes the cost of fuel, insurance, depreciation and other costs. It also includes updated EPA guidelines for calculating fuel efficiency, taking into account “real world” factors such as faster speeds and acceleration that tended to lower fuel-economy estimates for most vehicles, AAA said.

Here are some highlights from the report:

•The cost to own and operate a typical new sedan, driven 15,000 miles a year, is $8,095, down $26 from last year.

•Small sedans came in at an annual cost of $6,312, or 42.1 cents per mile – unchanged from 2008. Medium sedans were pegged at $8,105, and large sedans at $9,870, and both showed about a penny’s change from 2008.

•SUVs, which get worse gas mileage, showed the biggest benefit from lower gas prices, despite relatively big increases in depreciation and insurance, AAA said. Estimated operating costs for SUVs were $10,259 a year, down 1.3 cents a mile to 68.4 cents. Minivan costs rose by about the same amount to 58.8 cents a mile, or $8,815 a year.

For a copy of the full report, go to


With the apparent arrival of spring weather, the idea of drying clothes on a line no longer seems so ridiculous.

Here’s a reminiscence about the practice from Frances Stead Sellers, writing a blog post on the Washington Post’s Web site about a recent decision to return to line-drying:

“What really prompted me to change my habits was the opportunity to indulge the eccentricities of my childhood while appearing hip and green. The England I grew up in made a virtue of self-denial, a sport of being spendthrift. We switched off lights when we left a room, had hot running water only morning and night, and during rare summer droughts used dirty bathwater to douse the plants. It wasn’t that we were strapped for cash; we were eco-cheapskates.

“On blustery days, our clothes slap-danced on the line outside. And when it rained, we folded sheets and towels, shirts and trousers and hung them in front of the cast-iron Aga that warmed the kitchen. “Aga-ironed,” we’d call them hours later, stiff from the stove’s even, radiated heat. …

“I still use my dryer, but less. On breezy days, when I have time, the clothes jig on the line outside; and when it rains, they hang on my wooden rack over the register in the kitchen, shirt sleeves waving in sympathy with each waft of rising heat.

“Saving small change? Yes. But I like to tell myself, a little smugly I admit, that I’m really helping save the world.”

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