By Deborah Nayrocker
How much did you pay at the gas pump last time you filled up the tank? With gas prices on the rise, perhaps you’ve decided it’s time to cut fuel costs.
How can you cut transportation costs? Following car care tips, driving smarter, and being a sharp shopper can help. Here are ways to get started:
- Gas mileage decreases above 60 miles per hour. By driving slower and staying within the speed limit, you’ll save on gas.
- Driving smoothly increases fuel efficiency. Speeding up and braking eats up gas. Using cruise control for highway miles stretches gas dollars.
- Lighten the load in your trunk for better fuel usage. Loaded roof racks also increase drag on the vehicle.
Keep your vehicle regularly maintained.
- Regular oil changes and checkups can keep your car running smoothly. Kelly Williams, spokesperson for Be Car Care Aware states, “A clogged air filter can reduce fuel efficiency by up to 10%. It’s like a person trying to breathe with a bad cold.”
- Keep tires properly inflated. “Underinflated tires can reduce gas mileage by up to 15% and contribute to dangerously unsafe vehicle handling,” Williams said.
- “Air conditioning can also affect fuel costs. Blasting the air conditioner will sap your fuel economy by 10 to 20 percent,” Williams added.
Use sharp shopping skills.
- Avoid buying the highest octane of gasoline when your car can use the lowest grade of gasoline. Check the information in your auto owner’s manual. And when filling the gas tank, stop at the full mark. Extra gasoline will spill or seep out.
- Compare gas prices in your area. There can be considerable price differences even within a five-mile range. Comparison shop for the better deals.
- Consider selling the gas-guzzler. Shop around for a more fuel-efficient vehicle within your price range.
Shorten your commute to work.
If you have a long commute to work, consider finding a job closer to where you live. You will not only save on gas, but you’ll reduce wear and tear on the car.
My cousin’s family lives in southern California. When her children grew older she and her husband considered their priorities and decided to buy a home closer to work. Although real estate costs were a little higher, they knew they wanted to spend less time commuting on freeways to and from work. This enabled them to spend more time together as a family. And transportation costs were cut dramatically.
Take advantage of fuel discounts.
Does your grocery store use rewards cards that offer fuel discounts? For every $100 spent on groceries, our family receives a 10-cent per gallon discount off fuel purchases. These savings add up month after month.
Plan your errands for efficient use of gas and time.
Plan to make fewer trips for errands. By efficiently planning your route, you can drive fewer miles.
When I have home and business tasks to do, I list them. Then I prioritize them according to the best route to take when driving to do errands. This saves gas and time.
Find a less expensive way to get where you need to go.
- Carpool. Some of my friends with school-age children take turns driving their children to and from their private school. Some adults with longer commutes to work choose to carpool.
- Use public transportation. Thousands of dollars a year can be saved by taking public transportation to work.
- Ride your bicycle or walk. Besides spending less, you’ll enjoy the benefits of having an active lifestyle and better health.
By cutting auto and transportation costs, you can have more money in your wallet at the end of the month. And you can jumpstart your savings for other expenses and goals.
Deborah Nayrocker is an author and columnist. She is the award-winning author of The Art of Debt-Free Living and Living a Balanced Financial Life.
Copyright 2008 by Deborah J. Nayrocker. All rights reserved.