It's getting more difficult to find cheap gas these days. Even with using those online sites like gasbuddy.com or mapquest.com, the price of fuel at the pump is rising faster than ever.
Within one week, the price at my local cheap gas place jumped from $2.99 to $3.07, and then to $3.11 a gallon. I could drive 50 miles east and get it back down to $3.03 but what's the point if I put a hundred miles on the car to do it?
You may want to check on your local grocery chain. More of them are offering discounts on gasoline.
According to EAI, Inc., a company that tracks the petroleum sector, there are about 5,000 supermarkets and warehouse clubs around the country that offer discounts on gasoline. But to get that discount you either have to spend a certain amount in the store or join the warehouse club where the price of membership starts at $40 a year.
With gasoline prices up close to 10% this year already, the savings could be substantial. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average American household spends about $2,000 per year on gasoline. A $200 annual savings cuts that budget by 10%, allowing you to use that money to pay down debt, or buy better groceries.
So here are 10 ideas for reducing your gasoline bill that you may not be aware of. The first three come from Smart Money magazine.
1.Loyalty rewards at supermarkets. Shoppers with the supermarket's loyalty card are eligible for discounted gas which is usually about five to 10 cents cheaper than nearby filling stations. Customers can earn deeper discounts by spending more money in the store. The more they spend, the deeper the discount. For example, Kroger customers who spend $400 in the grocery store can get a discount of up to 40 cents per gallon. That's $10 off when you fill up your SUV's 25-gallon fill-up. The problem is that over the long run you may not save that much money because you're doing all of your shopping in one store and not looking for grocery items of household staples that could be found for less elsewhere.
2.Warehouse club membership. Major warehouse clubs such as BJ's, Costco and Sam's Club sell discounted gas at select locations. It's usually five to 10 cents less per gallon than nearby service stations. The deal is offered only to club members, who pay at least $40 for their annual membership. Costco plans to open at least 12 more fuel stations in the next year. It also offers 3% cash back on gas purchases for consumers who pay with a Costco-AMEX card. The downside here is that you'll need to buy at least 364 gallons of gas to recoup your $40 membership fee.
3. Gas station credit cards. Gas stations have teamed up with credit-card companies to offer branded credit cards that give generous rebates on gas purchases. The Gulf Platinum MasterCard offers up to 3% rebates for gas purchased at Gulf stations and 1% everywhere else. And with Shell, if you buy at least 45 gallons of its gasoline using their Shell card you can save five cents per gallon up to 100 gallons per month. The negative here is that if you carry a balance on your credit card, the interest will wipe out the savings on gas.
4. Change the way you drive. Everyone knows that driving faster uses more gas, but you can also reduce consumption by slowing down for signals well in advance and not accelerating fast from stop lights or stop signs. Using cruise control on long distances can lower your gas usage by 33%.
5. Empty out your car every now and then. A lighter car uses less fuel.
6. Use the correct fuel. If your car doesn't require a higher octane gas, then don't waste your money buying it. It won't help your car or give you better mileage. The Federal Trade Commission recommends using the regular 87 octane gasoline, unless your owner's manual recommends otherwise, or your engine is knocking.
7. Plan your trips better. If you're heading out the door to run a bunch of errands, plan ahead for the most efficient route so you don't waste time and gasoline by backtracking. And if you need to go a certain route on a frequent basis such as to work, the gym, church or a meeting location, consider carpooling or taking public transportation.
8. Stop idling. If you are waiting, turn off your car. This may be difficult in the winter, but always remember that as long as your engine is running, it's burning fuel. So weigh your options. It might just be cheaper to shut off the car and go inside a store or coffee shop to wait.
9. Buy gasoline at night. Fewer people are buying gas at that time so you save gas you might otherwise use while waiting for a pump. Also, gas expands when it's hot so you may squeeze out a little more in the cool of the evening.
10. Keep your tire pressure steady and at the manufacturers recommended pressure. You can't always tell just by looking if a tire is under pressure. But when it is, it causes you to use more fuel.
Following these tips can help you save money and reduce the number of times you'll be shivering at the gas pumps this winter. I could also say you'll be contributing to a greener environment and reducing your carbon footprint but that's all beside the point.