As I filled up my gas tank the other day, I was saddened that the reliably cheapest gas station near my office had gone up ten cents since my last refill and people were still lined up waiting for an open pump. This was not a good sign. Sure enough, prices had gone up all over town. Some people are calling it a fuel crisis, but whatever it is, it’s getting expensive. With prices expected to go up considerably more through the beginning of summer, there are ways to save a lot of money on your fuel spending that you might not be aware of.
(Photo: Scott Hadfield)
Find The Cheapest Gas Online
While some people drive around looking for the cheapest gas, even going as far as using their passenger as a price spotter, I’ve found a better way. It’s more efficient, less frustrating, and the bottom line is that it will save more money. I check my GasBuddy iPhone app before I even start the car. The GasBuddy app is available for the Android and Windows smartphones, too. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can look up the best prices near you on GasBuddy.com. Depending on the size of your tank, you could save $2 to $5 right at the pump. Personally, I like the app over the site. It’s very compact and simple. In no time, I have the closest prices and don’t even need to be near a computer.
GasBuddy.com has a ton of fuel-related tools and information on the website, too. One frightening example is the US Gas Prices Heat Map, which shows the gas prices as colors on a US map. Clearly California’s higher gas tax has a visible impact on the prices in that state.
Shop Online First
I’ve found myself wanting to buy things in stores (especially electronic gadgety goodness) because I could have those things right away even if it was cheaper to buy online. More than ever, buying online can save you a few bucks compared to driving to the mall and back. Sometimes it’s just cheaper and these days, what you buy online often arrives pretty quickly in your mailbox. Have it shipped to your work and you won’t have to drive to UPS, FedEX, or your post office to pick up a missed delivery.
Sure, some stuff is cheaper in the store, so the gas savings realized by shopping online aren’t really a savings, but is it in stock? I don’t know how many times I’ve driven to the store with a specific need, only to find it was out of stock. Shop online for the best price and call the store to verify stock of those needed items before heading out. The fastest, thus my favorite, online shopping is Amazon.com, eBay, and a simple Google search. I’ll have another post up soon on ways to save money shopping online at various sites, so watch for that.
Plan Your Driving
Above, I pointed out the benefit of knowing if something is in stock before driving to buy it. This helps because it reduces unnecessary driving. Another way to cut down on wasted miles is to plan out your trips. Obviously, if you have to visit two different places in North Phoenix this weekend and one in South Phoenix, you’re probably already planning to make both North Phoenix stops while on that side of town, but are you thinking this way for smaller trips? Maybe you can get shopping done near the place you get your hair cut. Is a your bank in the same store? Plan your activities and get things done more efficiently. Not only will this save you gas, but it will save you time and put less wear on your car.
Know Your Fuel Efficiency
When you bought your car, I’m sure it indicated the Miles Per Gallon as a range, rather than just a solid number. This is because there are ways to get the most mileage out of your car. You may have heard a few tales of fuel efficiency already. They range from making only right-hand turns (which Myth Busters even tested) to the speed at which you drive. One of the more widely known factors in fuel consumption is highway versus city street driving. Try different things and figure out what works for you. If you want to make it easy, try a tool like EconoDriver, which monitors your driving and fuel consumption and tells you how you’re doing.
More Ways To Save Money On Gas
I’m sure there’s even more ways to save money on your gas that I haven’t covered here. The best way to find them is to think about things you do that involve driving and any other factors that contribute to your use of or spending on gas. I’d love to hear any tips you have on saving your gas money. If you have one, share it in the comments.