Sometimes I sit and think that finding new ways to save some money is really easy. Easy in that if you actually take some time and think about it, then it can really pay off. In my own situation, I have to think about such things since I’m in the retirement phase of my life and no longer in my prime earning years. That’s a good reason all by itself but in fact it is something you should be thinking regardless of what phase of your life you are currently in.
Money you save when you are age 20 or 50 or whatever age is money you can use for way more important things in your life like your education or your retirement savings or necessities like medical costs or paying off credit card debt. So I spent today thinking about something that most people in America do every day and how they can save money doing it, even beyond what they already do to save money. And that is how to save money on gas and driving.
Recently I wrote about what things were predicted to rise in cost in 2018 and on that list was the price of oil. Those prices have been on the march and right now we are seeing the highest costs for gasoline in over a year and they’re still climbing.
Here in New Jersey last February 2017, a gallon of gas was selling at $2.19 a gallon. This week it is at $2.49 and climbing. That’s already almost a 14% increase and some experts are predicting that gas prices will rise above $3.00 a gallon before the end of the year.
Here’s What You Can Do to Save Money on Gas
Here’s a list of some ways you can save money on driving and buying gas for your car. You may be doing one, two, or even three of these things right now, but there are so many more ways to save if you keep looking at ways to do it. This list cost me 15 minutes of my time and it’s just one little subject to consider of the hundreds of things you spend your hard-earned money on every year. See what you can do this week to save by trying some of these tips when you are out on the road. Since we’re all trying to save a buck, here are 11 ways to save money on gas and driving.
1. Consider an “off brand” gasoline station
You may be used to buying gas only from Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil, or some other well-known oil company. But many experts will tell you that gas is gas so why pay for a “brand name”? Experts at AAA in California did blind testing of “brand name” gas versus “off brand” gas and found no differences. They tested samples of each type of gas for fuel economy, emissions, performance and drivability—and they were exactly the same. Unlike a few decades ago when cheaper gas was harmful to your car and its performance, that’s not the case today. Why? Regulations requiring cleaner, better performing fuel apply to all gas companies. So that no-name station offering gas that’s 10 cents cheaper per gallon may be just be worth a try.
2. Fill up when you are not under the gun
Why fill up your gas tank when you’re on empty, rushing to work, or under the gun? If you do, chances are you’ll hit the first station you see—which could be the most expensive. Instead, identify the cheapest station in your area when at home and relaxed, then filler up when you aren’t literally running on empty! In my neighborhood, gas stations under the same name banner can vary by 5-10 cents per gallon on the very same road!
3. Calculate the savings achieved by driving across a state border
If you live near a state line or if you travel across it all the time for your job or shopping, then check out gasoline prices. For example, buying gas in Northern New Jersey is typically a lot cheaper than in New York. States often vary greatly on gas price (one reason is state taxes) and that can mean big savings are available just across the state line.
4. Lose weight, save gas
I’m not exactly talking about Jenny Craig here. Your car maybe in need of a diet! What are you towing around in the trunk of your car? Are you willing not to carry that old box of useless junk that’s been in there since 2015? If you avoid lugging around so much stuff, you can lighten up and maximize gas consumption!
5. Identify “deal days”
Find gas stations that offer a break on specific days of the week (i.e. 10 cents off Tuesdays, etc.) and routinely patronize that business. Planning ahead can save you dollars a month.
6. Use Turnpikes and Parkways
In New Jersey where I live, turnpikes and parkways are regulated by the state government and so are the gas stations there. They can only change their rates on specific days of the week. The same may apply in your state. If so, check on that and make sure to fill up before the day that price hikes kick in.
7. Keep those tires inflated
As a routine, look at your tires each time you step into your car. Most new cars have a dashboard indicator light up if your tire pressure is low and that’s a good thing. Studies show keeping tire pressure at the proper level leads to better fuel efficiency. Tire pressure changes due to the season and weather so check regularly.
8. Slow down, speedy
Do you like to gun your car engine or race down the road at high speeds? How about when you sit and idle the car while you wait for someone? Besides being environmentally bad, and even against the law, it makes no sense to do it. Why not just toss a few dollars out the window…same thing.
9. Find your owner’s manual
Your owner’s manual can tip you off to several ways to operate your vehicle at maximum efficiency. For instance, circle the octane, memorize the octane, and buy the recommended octane—today and forever. Almost all cars are perfectly fine with lower octane gas despite what your Dad might have told you.
10. Bonus time
If you use a credit card for gas purchases, check your credit card rewards programs for incentives to buy a particular brand of gasoline over another. Your credit card may also offer frequent flier miles or cash back for your gas purchases. Don’t forget to pay off the balance in full each month. Also, beware of gasoline cards. They may offer you a deal (like 5 cents off per gallon) for filling up with their brand of gas. But they can make up for that by charging you higher than average interest rates on the card. Check and don’t carry a balance from one month to the next.
There may also be discounts if you pay in cash and not use a card, but I have found most stations now charging the same price for credit or cash so getting the rewards really makes a whole lot of sense.
11. Use an app like Gas Buddy
The Gas Buddy app finds local gas stations in your area and shows you the price at the pump for recent purchases for each station.
If you take a few minutes to think about and plan for your gas consumption, you’ll find plenty of crafty ways to save money at the pump. If you make them part of your routine, that means more money for the things you really value!
Which ways are you using right now and which ones can you start using? What other ways can you add to this list? What are other expenses you can spend time on to discover new ways to save?