Gas prices aren’t something the average driver has control over. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to slash your gas budget and save money when you’re behind the wheel. Here are some things you can do to rein in spending on gas while you wait for gas prices to come back down to earth.
Use gas apps to save
Gas apps can save you money in one of two ways.
First, some apps can help you find the lowest gas prices near you. GasBuddy, for example, lets you plug in your zip code to find the cheapest gas near you. You can filter by gas type (i.e., regular, midgrade, or premium) or by the gas brand. The app is free to download, so you can search out the cheapest gas prices without spending a dime.
Other apps will reward you with cash when you buy gas at partner locations. For instance, GetUpside is a free app that pays you cashback when you buy gas at brands like Shell, BP, and Conoco. This is an easy way to save on gas, even when gas prices are through the roof.
Combine trips and reduce idling
Combining trips and rethinking your routes could help you save money on gas if it means less driving time. Also, consider what time of day makes the most sense for running errands.
Driving when there’s less traffic can mean less time spent idling at stoplights. According to the Department of Energy, idling wastes fuel, and it’s not great for the environment either.
Carpool (or ask about working from home)
Carpooling could save you money on gas if you’re driving your own vehicle less. You may have to chip in to pay your carpool driver for gas, but it may be less expensive than driving your car back and forth to work.
You could also ask your employer whether working from home one or two days a week is possible. Any days you don’t have to drive your car are days you could save on gas.
Maintain your vehicle
- Changing your oil regularly
- Keeping your tires inflated
- Using the right kind of oil
- Getting a tune-up
Also, make sure you’re using the right kind of gas for your vehicle. According to FuelEconomy.gov, using the wrong octane rating can cause your engine to underperform, reducing your fuel economy.
Walk or use public transportation
Walking, taking the bus, or calling an Uber could save you money on gas since you don’t have to drive. Whether this makes sense for you can depend on where you live. If you can drop even one driving trip by switching up your mode of transportation, you could save on gas.
You could go a step further and cut out unnecessary trips altogether. For example, you could plan some staycations at home if you normally take road trips during the summer. If you go out on the weekends for dinner with friends, try having a potluck get-together at your house instead.
Consider a gas credit card
A gas credit card could make sense if you’re earning cash back on gas purchases. For example, if you can get 2% back each time you get gas and spend $400 on gas per month, that’s $96 you could earn back in cash each year.
Before applying for a gas credit card, however, ask yourself the following:
- How much could I earn in rewards on gas purchases?
- Will I be able to pay the balance in full each month to avoid interest?
- If not, what’s the card’s APR?
- Is there an annual fee?
If you end up paying interest on a gas credit card or a steep annual fee, you might not save yourself any money on gas. So think carefully about whether a gas card might be right for you.
Why Gas Prices Are Going Up (and How to Budget for It) is written by Rebecca Lake for www.chime.com