If you’ve been filling up at the pump lately, you’ve probably experienced a bit of sticker shock. Gas prices are rising across the country, and while most people assume this rise is due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the answer is a little more nuanced.
While the situation in Ukraine has certainly contributed, gas prices were already rising before that. With Covid cases declining across the country, consumers have started to travel more, increasing the demand for gas.
So what can you actually do about it? Let’s take a look at some of the best strategies for saving money on gas.
How to save on gas costs
If rising gas prices are straining your already tight budget, read below for ways to save at the pump:
If you live within cycling distance of your work, you can consider cycling instead of driving a car. This can be difficult for people who live in cities without dedicated bike lanes, but you may be surprised at what you can accomplish on a bike.
If you already enjoy cycling, consider upgrading to an electric bike. These scooter bike hybrids can easily go 20 MPH and allow you to save energy when pedaling. Electric bikes are pricey and can cost upwards of $1,000, so only buy one if you plan on using it regularly.
Carpooling with people
When your company returns to the office, it may be time to start carpooling with a colleague. Ask around and see if there’s anyone in the area who might be interested in carpooling. Send a mass email if you’re comfortable with that.
If you often have to take your child to after-school activities, ask other parents if they are interested in carpooling. Many families also feel trapped, so you may find several people willing to take up the offer.
Map your shopping
If you ever find yourself running errands without planning for them, you may be wasting more gas than you think. Before heading out, hook up all your stops on Google Maps and play around to see which route is the shortest. Consolidating groceries for gas efficiency can also save you some time, which is an added bonus.
Ideally, you should try to consolidate your shopping as much as possible. Instead of going to the pharmacy one day and the grocery store the next, try hitting both on the same day.
You can also find other ways to minimize groceries. For example, can you start getting your recipes from the supermarket? Can you go to the post office after dropping your kids off at school?
Research gas prices
Look up gas prices before you hit the pump. You might be surprised at how much you can save just by doing some basic research. GasBuddy.com lists gas station prices near you. Just type in your address and see where the cheapest gas is. Be careful not to drive too far out of the way to buy cheaper gas as that could defeat the purpose.
Warehouse clubs like Costco often have better gas prices than other chains. You must be a member to access those rates, so do the math beforehand to make sure it makes sense to buy a membership.
Also, many supermarkets offer discounts at gas stations after a certain amount. Shop around and see if local supermarkets offer this type of discount.
Avoid rush hour
Nobody likes to be in traffic. Not only does it feel like a waste of time, but it can also be a waste of money. One of the easiest ways to save money on gas is to drive when there are fewer cars on the road. If you are running errands, choose a time that is less crowded.
If you travel to work, ask your boss if you can come later to avoid rush hour or if you can work from home for a few days to save money on gas.
Safe driving is not only good for you and your car, it is also good for your wallet. You can waste a lot of gas if you stop and start suddenly. Remember that driving in the real world is not the same as playing Grand Theft Auto.
If you keep to the speed limit and brake and accelerate carefully, you can improve your fuel economy, while also reducing the risk of an accident.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated as low tire pressure can reduce your gas mileage. Get everything out of your car that doesn’t necessarily have to be there, because extra weight can also pull you down.
Use the correct credit card
Go through your credit cards and see if there is an offer for cash at gas stations. If you don’t have reward cards, consider signing up for one.
The American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card offers 3% cash back at gas stations and 6% cash back at supermarkets. The card has no annual fee for the first year and a $95 annual fee after that. But if you spend a lot of money at the pump, that annual fee may be worth it.
Join Gas Loyalty Programs
Many major gas stations offer free loyalty programs that you can join to save money. If you have several chains in your area, you can join each of their programs to see which one is the best.
Some gas chains also offer discounts if you pay cash. Before you do that, make sure the cash discount is greater than using a credit card that offers gas station rewards.
Buy gas on the right day
Research shows that Monday is the cheapest day to buy gas. If you buy gas on another day, you may be overpaying for no reason. Set a reminder in your phone to buy gas on Monday, possibly on your way to work.
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Zina Kumok (165 posts)
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. As a former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four, and everything in between. She was featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Learn how she paid off $28,000 in student loans over three years at Conscious Coins.
This post Why are gas prices so high?
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