With gas prices on the rise once again, it’s hard to predict how much the added expense will affect the average family. Experts seem to think that consumer confidence is up despite the fluctuation which leaves me feeling a bit skeptical. If the average person is ready to accept $4 a gallon gas, what happens when the price at the pump gets to be $5 a gallon or higher? Will it really be easy to smile then? I seriously doubt it.
Here are a few things to consider:
When the price of fuel increases, it causes other items to jump in price as well. For example, have you ever noticed that milk seems to be the most subjective to these changes? My local Walmart has gradually increased the prices of its dairy products. The last time I checked, a gallon of 2% cost me almost $4.00. That’s a hard number to swallow especially since my household goes through at least two gallons a week. That’s over $300 a year spent on one grocery item!
The more a person pays to commute, the less money they take home on pay day. Even if you’re paid a decent wage, every work-related expense, no matter how large or how small, cuts into your earnings. If it costs more to fill up your tank each week, it will require you to put in more hours at work to make up the difference. (To find out how to get around this problem, read the tips located below.)
The money has to come from somewhere. People living on a fixed income can not afford new expenses without cutting back on something else. Many rely on credit cards when they’ve run out of cash. The biggest problem with that are the interest rates. Daily house hold items purchased with credit cost twice as much once interest is applied to the balance each month.
So, what’s a person to do? Stop driving altogether and wait around for things to get better? I wouldn’t suggest that. I would, however, like to give you a few tips that can help you save money on the rising costs of gas.
Here are some things worth trying out:
If possible, change your schedule. If you’re used to working five days a week, strike up a deal with your employer to work later four days a week or to telecommute one day a week. This will not be an option for people in retail or the service industry. Working from home is easier for people that already have office jobs.
Switch to public transportation for long commutes. If you have to travel a long distance day in and day out, consider purchasing a bus pass or taking the commuter train. This will allow you to keep traveling costs at bay and will also give you time to better pre pare for your day. You can review notes from last week’s meeting, catch up with an old friend via phone or text message, and even read a chapter or two of that new book you’ve been dying to read.
Car pool. Not only is it environmentally responsible, carpooling is also cost efficient. Four to five people can travel for the same price as one. Consider carpooling to work or school rather than driving solo. Pitch in a few bucks each week for gas if you’re riding in the car with a family member, colleague or friend.
Use a Walmart gift card to receive 3 cents off per gallon at select filling stations. This is still one of the best ways to fuel up cheaply. Simply walk into your local Walmart and purchase a gift card in a designated amount. Go to an affiliated gas station and use your card to pay at the pump. The amount that you save over the course of a year doing this one simple thing is astonishing. There are also plenty of credit card deals out there offering cash back and rewards to choose from.
Use Gas Buddy to find the best prices on fuel in your area. If you’re not familiar with Gas Buddy, you may want to take a moment to get acquainted with it. (You can even down load the app on your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad.) By typing in your zip code, you can see all of the filling stations in your area and the prices that each one is charging for a gallon of gas.
Keep your car maintained so it can run more efficiently. Do not go over the speed limit. Do not idle too much. Fill the tank fully. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. You can improve gas mileage by around 3.3 per cent by routinely monitoring your tire pressure. A tire gauge is therefore a wise investment.
Consolidate trips. Plan your errands accordingly. If you know that you’re out of certain house hold items, plan to pick them up on the way home from the doctor’s office. Also, stop and pay your bills and drop off your dry cleaning. Make it so you drive less but accomplish more.
Buy an electric bike. Electric bikes are much more economical than driving. They retail for about $350 to $400 and go up to 15 miles an hour. One charge can get a rider up to 20 miles in distance. The best thing about these bikes is that they don’t require a single drop of gas to run!
Eliminate the need to drive. Use online banking and bill pay. Make purchases through the net and have them delivered to your home. Walk or bike to your
destination if time permits. The point is to not give up driving entirely but to lessen your dependency on your vehicle. You do not have to fall victim to intermittent gas prices. Take charge of the situation instead of letting it get the best of you. You have control over your finances and how much you spend at the pump. Unleash the saver in yourself by finding alternatives to paying full price for fuel.
Like any other type of adjustment that you make in your life, the aforementioned list of suggestions is yours for the taking. Do what you feel is right for you and your family. If the price of fuel is the least of your concerns, then more power to you. If you’ve tried everything listed here and have suggestions of your own, I welcome you to share them with me. After all, we’re in this together. We might as well pool together our resources. Isn’t that what blogging is for?
Charissa is into frugal living and saving money.