Have you filled up your car this week? Ouch. Gas prices have climbed, taking a more noticeable chunk out of our wallets. For many families, the increase creates even more stress on already stretched budgets. Even for those who have more flexibility with their budgets, being mindful of driving habits and gas consumption can create surprising savings-for both our wallets and the environment. Every drop counts!
If you’re looking for ways to save on gas money without taking drastic measures – remember my mantra, “little wins.” Make small changes that add up to big savings while we ride out this summer’s spike:
1. Drive Less Often
Can you remember the last time you rode your bike to the store or walked to the neighbor’s?
Walking and biking for short trips not only saves gas – it’s healthier. For longer trips, consider public transit and carpooling. Websites like www.erideshare.com and www.carpoolworld.com connect neighbors with similar commutes for ridesharing. Who knows, you might make a friend for life!
Ask your employer about telecommuting. Although once strongly resisted, many employers have embraced this now common work arrangement. Even if you are driving a short distance between home and the office, this will add up to significant savings.
When you do drive, consolidate your errands. Planning your route and making lists can save you extra trips – and money. (Because you still want to do the fun stuff like eat out once in awhile.)
2. Drive Smarter
You can improve your gas mileage by several percentage points with a few simple changes in your travel practices.
- Drive the limit. Most vehicles reach optimal gas mileage at around 60 mph. Driving at 62 mph versus 75 mph reduces fuel consumption by about 15%.
- Drive gently. Rapid acceleration and hard braking will quickly drain your tank.
- Avoid idling. Turn the car off while you wait. Restarting the car uses less fuel than idling for more than a minute. Really!
- Stay sleek. Open windows & sunroofs, roof top cargo, and excess weight in the trunk each create drag, using more gas.
3. Maintain Your Car
Keep your engine tuned and your oil changed. Sludgy oil, sticky spark plugs and dirty air filters reduce your engine’s efficiency. Properly aligned and inflated tires can increase your gas mileage by up to 3% – and keep you safer on the road.
When we take better care of ourselves, we need fewer doctor visits and less medical intervention. Your car works the same way. I know it takes time to keep everything fine-tuned –but it’s worth it!
4. Shop for the Best Price
Like I’ve said – we’re fixated on convenience. Do you always fill up at the gas station around the corner from your house? You may be paying more than you need to, with several fuel options available along your daily route.
- Check out websites like www.gasbuddy.com to find the best price closest to you.
- Take advantage of loyalty programs through grocery stores and credit cards.
- Buying your groceries and your gas at the same place often saves up to 20 cents a gallon. Warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club often deliver the best price per gallon and Costco’s Amex card offers 3% back on gasoline purchases.
5. Rethink Your Ride
Sound financial thinking usually says that the cheapest car is the one you already own. But if it’s time for a new car, think carefully about what you really need. Are you spending most of your time driving errands alone in an empty SUV? Do you really need a 4WD Gas Guzzler to get the kids to school? Perhaps you can downsize to a more fuel -efficient model. Perhaps you can even go to one vehicle for your family – I know that’s radical but how often does your second car just sit in the driveway?
Remember, minor changes – little wins – will go a long way to keeping more money in your wallet and less of it leaving the tailpipe. What changes have you made in your driving habits? How are you saving money at the pump? Chime in and share your ideas!
Yours in Financial Freedom,