Since the start of the year, gas prices have skyrocketed. This week, the national average for a gallon of gas is $4.97 for regular and $5.74 for diesel. However, during a recent trip to California, I was paying way more than the national average to fill my tank. At this point, nearly everyone is starting to feel the pain at the pump. And, it doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon. If soaring gas prices aren’t in your budget, here are a few ways to help you maximize your savings and offer relief as prices continue to rise.
7 Ways to Relieve the Pain at the Pump
1. Join fuel rewards programs.
One of the easiest and most popular ways to save on fuel is to join a rewards program. Many companies have created their own rewards programs and offer great savings to loyal customers. They all work with the same basic concept of earning points at the pump for every dollar you spend. However, some offer additional perks through partnerships with other retailers to offer greater incentives and savings.
Circle K Easy Rewards
What’s great about this program is that it’s free to join and easy to understand. You get 10 points for every gallon of gas and 20 points per dollar for items from their store. Once you reach 2,000 points, you earn $2 off your purchase at the pump.
Exxon Mobil Rewards+
Exxon Mobil offers even more ways to earn. Not only does it give members 3 points per gallon of fuel and 2 points for every dollar spent in the convenience store and car wash, but you also get $1 off for every $100 you spend. And if you’re an AARP member, you can earn even more points with each purchase.
Some rewards programs, like BPme Rewards, also have incentives for new members. BP is currently offering $0.05 off per gallon during your first month. However, all members can earn an additional $0.05 when you spend $100 on gas from BP and Amoco stations. They also regularly offer special bonuses and opportunities for additional savings.
Shell Fuel Rewards
While many competitors are offering fuel rewards, Shell is taking it a step further. In addition to earning points for gas and convenience store purchases, they offer additional points from qualifying purchases with non-fuel retailers. So, you can earn $0.10 for every $50 you spend with participating vendors. This means that you can build points even faster.
Speedway Speedy Rewards
Speedway Speedy Rewards is very similar to other fuel rewards programs. You earn 10 points for every gallon you buy with them and 20 points per dollar on store merchandise. But, it offers more flexibility in how you redeem your rewards. You can use your points to claim coupons, gift cards, free merchandise, and entrance into sweepstakes. Also, be sure to check for special offers and ways to earn additional points as well.
2. Comparison Shop for the lowest gas prices.
The golden rule for budget shoppers is to compare prices before you buy. The same holds true when it comes to buying gas. Use the “gas” feature on Google maps to find the cheapest gas near you. Or, you can also download the GasBuddy app to compare prices. It works with over 150,000 gas stations nationwide to help you find the lowest rates no matter where you are.
3. Carpool or share a ride whenever possible.
Although people have been doing this for years, carpooling is gaining even more support now that gas prices are skyrocketing. So, if you live near one of your coworkers or in the same neighborhood as other families who attend the same school or activities as your children, consider starting a carpool. In addition to saving you money on gas, it will also give you more free time in your busy schedule.
4. Ensure that you are properly maintaining your vehicle.
Learning how your car consumes gas and ensuring the proper maintenance are important things for every car owner to know. However, maintaining your vehicle can save you gas money as well. When your car is at its peak performance, you get more miles to the gallon. Here are a few basic things you can do to ensure that your car is getting optimal gas mileage:
- check the tires for proper air pressure
- check fluid levels and choose the correct oil
- perform regular tune-ups
- replace your air filters
- limit your use of the AC
- drive the recommended speed limits
- maintain speeds and accelerate gently while driving
- turn off your engine when you park
Depending on what kind of car you drive, there may be additional things you can do to improve the gas mileage as well.
5. Lighten your load.
This tip for easing pain at the pump comes down to physics. By reducing the total weight of the vehicle, you gain better gas mileage. So, it’s a good idea to unload everything that isn’t necessary. Some models even have removable seats which can drastically lighten your load. You can also remove racks to decrease wind resistance and boost your savings.
6. Buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
I’m not saying you should run out and buy an electric vehicle tomorrow. But, if it’s time for a new car, perhaps you should consider a more fuel-efficient model. Large SUVs and trucks have their purposes. However, it may take a small fortune to drive them in the current conditions. If gas prices are a major concern, look at other models that consistently get more than 30 miles to the gallon. You can also compare hybrid options for even greater fuel savings.
7. Find a job that lets you work from home.
Although there are many more postings for remote positions, you don’t necessarily have to find a new job to work from home. Many offices are transitioning to a virtual or hybrid environment to save money. Therefore, choosing to work from home could also solve some of your financial problems. It would eliminate the daily commute and decrease your transportation budget. This could help relieve some of the pain you may be feeling at the pump.
The Hard Facts
Unfortunately, gas prices are spiking worldwide. While prices are high here in the U.S., Europe is paying nearly double. And, there is no telling how long we will be paying elevated prices. There is a real possibility that the price of gas could go up even further.
The only long-term solutions are to find new sources or decrease our reliance on gasoline. However, in the meantime, you can find ways to ease the pain at the pump and use these tips to lower your monthly expenses.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.