Rising gasoline costs can seriously impact your monthly budget. Here are six things you can do to make the most out of each tank of gas.
If you regularly drive a car, then you have to pay close attention to gasoline prices, and the rise in these prices over the last decade has undoubtedly impacted your driving habits. Perhaps, though, you are still looking for ways to get more value from the gas in your vehicle. Here are six ideas on how you can do this:
1. Never drive to accomplish only one errand.
We all have many errands to take care of every day. To save money on gas, plan out every single trip you take in your car and combine as many errands into each trip as possible.
Planning trips allows you to prioritize errands and combine them more efficiently. You might take care of several of your errands in one geographical area, allowing you to park your car somewhere in the middle of the area and then walk from destination to destination. Or if you drive to work, you might spot places where you could get errands done along your route, allowing you to get extra things accomplished without having to make side trips.
2. Walk instead of driving.
No matter where you live, you are going to be able to accomplish some of your errands within walking distance. Like many people, however, you may be tempted to still get into your vehicle even if your errand is taking place only a block or two away. That sort of trip is a complete waste of gasoline — and if you do it every day, it adds up quickly.
If your favorite coffee shop is two blocks away, do yourself a favor and walk there. Not only will you be saving gasoline for more important trips but you’ll also get exercise in the process.
3. Take public transportation.
Some U.S. cities (such as Chicago and New York) have a public transportation culture, where people consistently use subways and buses. But in many cities (especially in the western half of the United States, where distances are greater), public transportation has a bad reputation and is thought of as something that “only poor people do.”
That reputation simply isn’t deserved. With public transportation, you can generally get anywhere you need to while saving a bunch of money in the process. In many cities, a monthly transportation pass costs around $75. Compare this to monthly gasoline costs for your car, which can easily top out at over $200 even if you’re driving a fuel-efficient vehicle. Public transportation is clearly the more cost-effective option, and therefore you should take advantage of it as much as possible.
The only downside to public transportation is that it takes longer, especially in larger cities. Once again, planning can overcome that obstacle and get you anywhere on time. And if you’re worried about the milk getting warm if you take a bus home from the grocery store, bring a small ice chest along to take care of that problem.
4. Don’t use the drive-thru.
This idea is one most people don’t think about, but using a drive-thru when you get fast food is equal to sitting in traffic on a freeway as far as your vehicle is concerned. You are wasting gasoline while the car isn’t moving.
Instead, if you’re going to get food from a restaurant, park the car and walk inside. You’ll often get your order faster than you would in the drive-thru anyway, and you’ll avoid wasting what could amount to a gallon of gas as your car idles away in that drive-thru line.
This same general idea applies to situations such as when you’re picking up/dropping off friends and running other quick errands. Stop the car (and if safe, turn it off) and you save gasoline. And gas equals money.
5. Gather people together before you drive to a destination.
This idea should be obvious. If you and your friends are going to go somewhere, either meet beforehand and pile into one car (or as few cars as is necessary to carry everyone in the group) or have someone in the group act as designated driver and pick people up along the way to the ultimate destination. Once again, planning a trip out will save you and your friends gas, and therefore money.
6. Find cheaper gas on routes you commonly take.
People often drive miles out of their way to a cheaper gas station in an effort to try and save 5 cents on a gallon of gasoline. That’s not effective if you do it often, as you’ll end up spending at least as much on the fuel you use up to get to the station as you save.
Fortunately, we have the Internet, and there are dozens of websites that update gasoline prices every day. So before you leave on your quest for bargain fuel, check the prices of gas stations on the routes you’re taking. The odds are very good that one of the stations will be significantly cheaper than the others. If you use the same route consistently, that establishment might become your best friend. By using this method, you can likely find a station that is almost always 10 cents cheaper than its nearby competitors.