A new ride
Did we mention gas is about 80 cents more expensive per gallon than at this time last year? Or that the average $3.60 a gallon Americans are paying is only going up this summer? Yeah, you may want to do something about that. A new car is slightly cost-prohibitive -- especially the hybrid models that are being held up because their essential parts are made by Japanese manufacturers still recovering from that country's earthquake and ensuing tsunami -- and a used car isn't guaranteed to get you much better mileage than your current vehicle, especially for the price of a tax return. Instead, try supplementing your everyday ride with something smaller and more efficient for the small trips around town. The Vespa LX 50 scooter, for example, only tops out at 35 mph, but gets 95 to 100 miles per gallon for its $3,299 price tag. If you're uncomfortable with going slightly over budget, though, the Honda ( HMC) Elite gets up to 50 mph and takes only 1.6 gallons of fuel at a clip for $2,999, while Honda's ugly bug-looking Ruckus costs $500 less, but gets 95 to 105 miles per gallon.