If you’ve recently filled up your car at the pump, you’ve likely suffered a small shock when looking at the current gas prices. They are skyrocketing across the country, and while most people attribute this to the political (and humanitarian) crisis that’s unfolding in Eastern Europe, the truth is a little more complicated.
While the crisis in Ukraine has undoubtedly played a role, gas prices were already climbing prior to that. With the lifting of the previously imposed lockdown orders across the country people have begun to travel more, therefore increasing the demand for gasoline.
While knowing about the political and social reasons behind the current increase in gas prices may make you sound smart in your everyday conversations with others, it doesn’t alleviate the burden on your own wallet. To help you out in this regard, I’ll teach you how to save money on gas, so that you can minimize the financial effects of this current high-price period.
Use a Bike for Smaller Distances
If you live within biking distance of your workplace, you should consider cycling instead of driving. This may be challenging for those of you who live in cities without designated bike lanes, but once you give it a try you will be amazed at what you can achieve on a bike.
Consider upgrading to an electric bike if you already enjoy bicycling and are committed to it. Most of these scooter-bicycle hybrids have a top speed of 20 miles per hour and allow you to conserve energy while peddling. Electric bikes are expensive and may cost more than $1,000, so only buy one if you intend to use it frequently. However, they are fun to ride and can be a great way to save money on gas.
Start Carpooling With Others
If your firm requires everyone to return back to the office, it may be appropriate to begin carpooling with a coworker. Ask around to see if anyone in your area is interested in it and would also like to save money on gas. If you feel comfortable doing so, send out a mass email or use your company’s dedicated intranet section to broaden your reach.
Whether you have to take your child to after-school events on a regular basis, see if other parents are interested in carpooling. Many families are feeling the squeeze as well, so you may find numerous young parents prepared to take you up on your offer.
Plan Your Errands
If you often run errands without preparing ahead of time, you may be squandering more gas than you know. Before you go, enter all of your destinations into Google Maps and experiment to find which route is the quickest. Consolidating errands to conserve gas can also save you quite a bit of time, which is an added bonus.
Ideally, you should aim to combine as many errands as you find feasible. Rather than going to the pharmacy one day and the grocery store the next, make a plan to get both done on the same day.
You may also find additional strategies to cut down on errands. Can you, for example, start purchasing your medicines at the grocery store? Can you go to the post office after you drop your children off at school? Can you shift some of your in-store purchases online?
Compare the Gas Prices in Your Area
Before you drive to the gas station, check the costs. You might be shocked at how much money you can save simply by conducting simple research. The GasBuddy app shows you all the relevant prices from gas stations in your area. Simply enter your address to get the cheapest gas near you. Make sure you’re not traveling too far out of your way to save money on petrol, since this may defeat the purpose.
Costco and other warehouse clubs frequently have lower gas prices than other stores. In order to gain access to the cheaper prices you have to become a member. Before signing up for a new membership, do the math to ensure that your projected savings will actually exceed the additional cost of the membership program.
What’s more, several grocery shops provide gas station discounts after a specific amount of purchasing. Look around to see if any of your local grocery stores provide this type of discount. That way you will get the benefits of a membership without having to pay an extra fee, since you would be spending money in the store already.
Avoid Driving During Rush Hour Traffic
Nobody enjoys sitting in traffic. It not only seems like a waste of time, but it may also feel like a waste of money. Driving when there are less cars on the road is one of the best ways to save money on gas. When running errands, choose a less congested hour if your schedule allows for it.
Some companies allow for flexible working hours, which allows you to come in a little later to avoid rush-hour traffic. Also, be sure to ask you supervisor if you can work from home on some days of the week to save money on gas.
Drive More Responsibly
Driving more responsibly is not only better for you and your vehicle, but it is also beneficial to your finances. Stopping and starting abruptly can waste a lot of gas. Remember that driving in the real world is not the same as playing a driving game. By following the speed limit as well as stopping and accelerating more carefully you can drastically increase the fuel efficiency of your vehicle while at the same time decreasing your chances of getting into an accident.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated, since low tire pressure may reduce your gas mileage. Remove everything from your vehicle that isn’t absolutely necessary for your current trip, as additional weight can increase your fuel consumption while also slowing you down.
Start Using a Cash Back Credit Card
Examine your credit cards to see if any of them provide cash back at gas stations. Consider getting a rewards card if you don’t already have one.
As an example, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card has a 3% cash back rate at gas stations and a 6% cash back rate at grocery stores and on streaming services. While the card has no annual fee during the first year of use, it will cost you $95 per year after that.
Make sure to check your budget if getting a cash back credit card with an annual fee makes sense for you. If you are only buying groceries for yourself, don’t drive your car all too often, and tend to go out to eat rather than preparing your own meals, the additional annual fee may not make sense in your situation. However, if you do most of the grocery shopping and also drive your kids around a lot, then be sure to compare various cash back credit card offers.
Participate in a Gas Loyalty Program
To save money, several large gas stations offer free loyalty programs that you may join. If you live near multiple different chains, you should participate in each of their free programs to evaluate which one is best for you.
Some gas stations will also give you a discount if you pay in cash. Before you do so, be sure to check if the cash discount is bigger than the one offered by a credit card that offers gas station benefits.
Fill Up on the Right Day
According to research conducted by GasBuddy, the cheapest day to buy gas is usually Monday. On any other day, you may be overpaying to fill up your vehicle for no particular reason. Therefore, set a reminder on your phone for Mondays to fill up your tank, ideally on your way to or from work.
Hopefully you can apply some of the suggested ways to save money on gas and maybe even develop some beneficial habits along the way. That way you’ll be well prepared once a new high-price period hits the country.