There may be one universal sign of financial stress that affects every driver: gas prices. As AAA's gas price monitor points out, the national average has reached $2.97 with no signs of slowing down.
Rising oil prices will make driving significantly more expensive this summer. And while the price varies by state, higher prices at the pump remain a top concern of consumers.
While the obvious way to save on gas is to stop driving, that's not always a realistic option. There are less stringent ways to reduce gas consumption that won't have such a dramatic impact on your daily life.
Here are a few ways to save on gas as prices continue to skyrocket:
Tip 1: Shop Around
The idea of shopping around for gas is foreign to some people, but there are plenty of ways to do it without spending too much gas looking for just the right price. Apps such as GasBuddy and AAA Mobile allow you to enter your location and quickly browse local gas stations and find the best price near you. Although you may only save a few cents per gallon, that can add up to dollars per tank. Over the long haul, it can put a dent in your overall gasoline purchases.
Tip 2: Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated
Under-inflated tires tends to waste gas, while properly inflated tires with plenty of tread will keep your car running efficiently. In fact, by keeping your tires well-inflated, you may be able to improve your gas mileage by 3%.
Invest in a cheap tire gauge or find a gas station where you can inflate your tires and measure the pressure, too. Just keep some change handy in your car, and you'll never even notice the money leaving your hands. If you maintain good tire habits, you shouldn't spend much of your change at all keeping your tires properly cared for—and the end result is a more efficient car.
Tip 3: Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs
Most of the major gas stations have their own rewards programs. So if you shop at one particular brand, make sure you're rewarded for that loyalty. Collect points every time you're at the pump, and use those points to get discounts the next time you fuel up. There is no reason to be picky, as these programs are free to join and don't cost you anything.
You can also apply for a gas rewards credit card. These cards can give you as much as 4% cash back when you make gas purchases, no matter where you shop. Therefore, even if you drive infrequently, you'll probably find some use for the extra cash. Be mindful of the card's terms, annual fees and annual percentage rate (APR) before you sign up. Gas credit cards typically have high interest rates, so make sure you never carry a balance from month to month. Otherwise, any savings you made at the pump will be lost through interest fees.
Tip 4: Use Less Gas
This is the most obvious tip—and maybe the most helpful. Drive only when you absolutely need to, and follow these suggestions to reduce your consumption.
Switch to a bike. As the temperature climbs, the streets are more amenable for cycling and walking.
Drive slow and steady. Driving fast is efficient when it comes to timing, but in terms of gasoline consumption, the added resistance of air makes your car less efficient. If you have the patience for it, slow down and enjoy the ride.
One more note: During winter, heating your car using gasoline might be efficient from a comfort standpoint, but it's expensive when you consider the cost of that gas. Try to find better ways to stay warm.
Maxime Rieman is Product Manager at ValuePenguin. Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Rieman's focus, which led her to joining ValuePenguin, a consumer research and advice company based in New York. Previously, she was product marketing director at CoverWallet and launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet.
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