With summer in full swing and the price of oil hovering near $90-100 per barrel, everyone is feeling the pinch at the gas pump. High fuel costs affects us every summer, and this one is turning out to be no different.
Except this year, the high cost of filling up our gas tanks has been compounded by the economy’s continued slump, high unemployment, meager savings account rates, and other trouble spots in families’ finances.
Here are five ways to save some money this summer on your gas bill.
- Keep your car moving. I know that it may seem like a counterproductive idea to keep driving to save money on fuel costs, but stop and go traffic can play havoc on your fuel gauge. Depending on the amount of congestion that you encounter, you could be adding a lot to your fuel bill. Studies have shown that stop and go traffic can reduce mileage at least 5% to 10%. While living in the traffic-riddled city of Atlanta, my brother-in-law used to have a theory that you could save a lot of time on your daily commute by only making right-hand turns. Who would have thought that something so simple could save you money, as well.
- Tune up your car. Studies have shown that tuning up your car can save you money on gas by improving your fuel economy. In fact, simple tune ups can save you approximately 4% on your gas costs. If you can avoid major mechanical problems with your car, you could also save on car repairs.
- Clean out your trunk. Studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy found that your fuel consumption will be up to 2% higher if you drive around with an extra 100 pounds in your car’s trunk. So, for example, if you have a 15 gallon gas tank in your car that you fill up once a week, that extra 2% in fuel costs can add $50 onto the roughly $2,500 that you spend on fuel per year (assuming $3.50 per gallon gasoline). Instead, you could save money this money if you’d just stop carrying around needless gear and added weight in your car’s trunk.
- Use gas reward credit card. You can earn up to a 5% rebate at certain national gas station chains in rotating categories by using a credit card like the Chase Freedom when you fill up. Make sure you enroll each quarter to be eligible and note that the 5 percent is earned on purchases up to maximum quarterly spend. Plus the Chase Freedom card has no annual fee. While many of these credit cards have high interest rates, the savings or rebates may be well worth your time and effort in gas savings if you pay your credit card bills off every month instead of letting your balances carry over and accrue interest. The best credit cards can help you earn a rebate on your gas costs.
- Carefully pick the day you fill up. I used to work at a gas station, and one of the tips that I learned was to not fill up your car while the fuel truck is there replenishing the gas station’s fuel tanks. Pumping in the new gas stirs up any sediment in the station’s large tanks and can be transferred to your car while you are filling up. Timing can also save you money on changing gas prices. Many gas station owners change their prices on Thursday mornings by 10AM. Beat the deadline if you think prices are rising, as they often do heading into the weekend when more people are on the road.
While many of these fuel (or cost) saving measures may not seem like much when you look at them individually, they can add up to some serious savings when you combine them. Saving 10% or 20% on your fuel costs can put hundreds of dollars back in your savings account every year. This can make a huge difference in your family’s budget when times are tough.
What about your fuel savings? Do you fill up your tank every week? What are some things you do to save money on gas? Did I miss any good tips?