Do you hate the thought of buying gas and paying $40, $60, $70, or even a $100 every time you fill up? I know just were you are coming from, in fact I’ve been their before. I use to have a job that required me to do a lot of driving. In fact once a week I was required to drive an hour and a half to a meeting that only took a few hours. It cost me anywhere from $80 to a $100 a week in gas. In the end, I told myself their has to be a better way, and that’s when I decided to change, and look for ways to save money on gas, and in this article I will show you 10 things I did to cut down my gas cost.
1. Don’t Let Fear Control You
The first thing I did was I decide not to let fear control when I buy gas. The truth is when the media is proclaiming doom and gloom that gas prices are going to go up people get scared and do what they believe is the most logical thing, buy gas. By doing this we believe we can get a full tank at a lower price but what I’ve found is that most people will end up buying after the price has already gone up.
In fact earlier this year while at work a customer came in claiming gas prices were going to be up $6 by the end of the summer, and that you should stock up now. Obviously, it didn’t happen with gas prices still around $3. The best way to solve this problem is to avoid buying gas when the hype of gas prices are controlled by fear. Instead buy gas based on things you can control such as when your tank is actually empty.
2. Keep A Budget
The next thing you can do to save money on gas is to keep a budget. A budget conforms you to how much money you can spend towards gas. However before you can set up a budget you need to know how much you are spending on gas each month.
To figure this out I like to use Mint.com to track this. With Mint you can track all of this automatically by linking your accounts directly. In my case I budget around $350 a month for gas, and if I start to get close to exceeding my budget Mint will send me a reminder to my email or mobile device.
3. Use A Gas Card
The next thing to consider is using a gas card. The great thing about these cards is that they can help you cut cost big time. In fact my new Marathon Gas Credit Card allows me to save up to 25 cents a gallon. Which means if I were to buy 100 gallons of gas each month I would save $300 a year on gas.
These cards are also nice to have so you don’t have to use cash all the time. Before I got my gas card I had to fork out anywhere from $50 to $100 every fill up which is a lot to have on hand every time. With a gas card it makes the process so much easier.
4. Condense Multiple Trips Into One
In the fourth tip consider condensing several small trips into one. I do this regularly when I drop my kids off at a school function and combine some other things I need to get done as well, such as pick up groceries, run to the hardware store, and even buy gas. To prove how much this can really save you I tried this for a month and found a significant difference. In fact I saved one extra fill up in a month saving me $50.
5. Cut Down On Drag
Another thing I did was to cut down the drag on my vehicle. Drag refers to how the air moves over your vehicle. The more drag your car or truck has the harder the engine will have to work to move, which means it will use more gas as a result.
A few things I do to cut down drag is to first, keep the car windows up since this can force a lot of air into your vehicle. Second, keep your tires inflated with the correct amount of pressure. With less tire pressure it will be much harder to move the vehicle causing you to use more gas. Finally, if you have a truck consider leaving the tail gate down or putting a cover over the bed of the truck. I did this and it cut down a ton of wind resistance and saved me ton in gas in the end.
6. Get Regular Scheduled Tune Ups
Next consider getting regular schedule tunes for your vehicle. In my case I get my oil changed every 3000 miles. This alone has helped me keep a higher mile per gallon ratio. In fact I get anywhere from 15 to 16 miles a gallon out of my truck.
However if you like to change your own oil, changing things such as your oil and gas filters can go a long way in saving you some money. The longer you wait to change these filters the more dirt will build up causing you engine to work harder. Another thing that should be cleaned often is the air filter. The better your engine can pull in air the more freely, the better it will run.
7. Cut Down On Heat And AC
The seventh tip on how to save on gas is to cut down on using your heat and air conditioning when possible. Now I know if you have young kids this can be unavoidable but when possible consider keeping them off. When you run your AC in the summer and your heat in the winter it cause your engine to get hotter and work harder. In the end it means you’ll be using more gas.
8. Avoid High Traffic Areas
Avoid driving in high traffic areas or at peek times of the day, such as rush hour, which typically tends to be in the morning and in the evening. Now if you have a job in the city this may be hard to avoid but one way to do this is to leave earlier in the morning and later in the evening to beat the high volume traffic.
Another thing you can do is look for other possible routes that are less traveled. If you typically take the interstate take some time to look for alternative routes. You might be surprised how many different ways their is to drive to your place of work.
9. Stick With Fuel Efficient Vehicles
Ninth, stick with a vehicle that gets great gas mileage. A few years back a lot of my coworkers decided to get a new truck since the prices were down, however the big downside they didn’t consider was that they only get around 10 miles to the gallon. In fact, one fill up will cost them over $100. That’s $400 a month if they fill up every week.
Instead stick to buying a vehicle that gets a decent miles per gallon. In fact I’ve recently considered selling my old truck and switching to a Chevy Impala, which gets up to 30 miles per gallon highway.
10. Consider Changing Jobs
Finally, the last thing I did and you may want to consider is to get a job that’s closer to where you live. If you have to drive a few hours to get to work everyday it’s going to add up big time. If you could move close enough to cut even one hour off of your drive time each day your going to save a lot over a year.
I did this a few years back were I was working part time in financial services and had to make an hour and a half drive once a week. When it came down to it I was spending just about what I made in a year in gas and after some serious considerations I decided it would be best if I moved on.
The reverse can also be said as well. If it’s not possible to quit your job consider moving closer to it. Even cutting just half of the time off of your drive will save you a ton in cash.
A Final Thought…
As a final thought consider how long you can make a tank of gas last you? By applying all of these tips I was able to make one tank of gas last from as long as 3 weeks in the summer time to 2 weeks in the winter time. So the next time you’re looking to see how can I save money on gas consider the tips I’ve presented in this article and ask yourself, how long can I make a tank of gas last?
Do you have a tip or advice to add on how to save money on gas? Feel free to share your thoughts, comments, and questions below.
This post was recently featured on the Carnival of Personal Finance by Barbra Friedberg Personal Finance.