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Feature Articles: Financial Information & Tips


How to calculate the cost per mile to drive


Man pumping gasThe cost of living continues to climb as wages remain stagnant. Gaining control of your spending helps you take control of your finances and improve your life in many ways.


“The best way to gain control of your finances is to determine how much everything in your daily life costs, down to the penny,” says Doug Scotten, family financial education specialist with the University of Missouri Extension.


Everyone pays attention to how much fuel costs, but do you know how much you spend on each mile you drive? This is a method to determine exactly how much it costs.


  1. Determine the miles per gallon performance of your vehicle. Most new vehicles have the miles per gallon displayed on the console, but this is how you determine miles per gallon if it is not an option on your vehicle. First, fill up your vehicle’s fuel tank completely and write down the odometer reading (e.g., 58,400 miles and 12 gallons to fill up the tank).
  2. When you have to fill the tank again, write down the number of gallons it took to fill the tank. Once you fill it up, write down the odometer reading (e.g., 58,764 miles).
  3. After you take the second odometer reading and subtract the first odometer reading, this will calculate the total miles you drove on the fill-up (e.g., 58,764 – 58,400 = 364 miles driven on that tank of fuel).
  4. Next, divide the number of miles you drove (e.g., 364) by the number of gallons it took you to fill up your tank (e.g., 12 gallons) (e.g., 364 miles 12 gallons = 30.3 miles per gallon).
  5. With this information, you can now calculate your miles per dollar. Take your vehicle’s miles per gallon from above (e.g., 30.3 miles per gallon) and divide it by the current price of gas (e.g., 30.3 miles per gallon $2.34 per gallon = 12.95 miles per dollar).
  6. Last, you can also calculate the cost per mile to drive. Take the current price of fuel and divide it by your vehicle’s miles per gallon (e.g., $2.34 per gallon 30.3 miles per gallon = $0.77 or 8 cents per mile).


By knowing exactly how much it costs you to drive your vehicle, you can plan trips accordingly.


For more information on issues related to individual and family finances, contact Doug Scotten at 417-448-2560 or


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Last update: Tuesday, June 14, 2016