How to Deal with High Gas Prices
Feeling Pain at the Pump?
Here’s a Primer on How You Can Survive the High Costs and Save Money.
Gas prices are currently rising, which isn’t surprising since the oil demand is incredibly high while supply is tight. You can expect that the gas price will continue to rise before it falls, and what you need to do right now is to ride through the current costs. The question is, how can you survive (and save money during) the continued fuel increase?
There are many ways you can save on gas, such as the obvious way of looking for a cheaper gas station. Given the current policies that US President Biden is implementing to reduce the side effects of climate change, gas prices are expected to continue rising. It will definitely do you good to learn a few tips to deal with it.
Why Are Gas Prices So High in the US?
Americans are currently experiencing the pain of gas price increase, and it’s getting many people riled up. Politics have always been in the middle of gas prices, enough that many people are blaming President Biden for the recent price hike. However, this is far from reality because it has always been supply-and-demand that affects the price of crude oil.
It is the high demand for gas and the current low supply that drives gas prices upward. Gasoline and diesel come from crude oil, a natural resource that has been much affected throughout the pandemic. Because the pandemic made it so that fewer people were driving, major oil companies decided to reduce production.
Thanks to a lot of people getting vaccinated, the US has started to lift restrictions. As a result, there is a sudden rise of people buying gas, but there is not enough supply. Last October, the members of OPEC were supposed to agree about more barrels produced, but it didn’t happen. OPEC instead decided to keep the current production rates.
As expected, gas prices rose because of the lack of response from OPEC. In addition to this and the high demand, the Colonial Pipeline went offline for almost a week. The biggest fuel pipeline in the US was forced to close due to a cyberattack. Because of the shutdown, there was a countrywide gas shortage, pushing prices even more.
This isn’t the only incident that caused an increase in crude oil prices. On October 1, a key pipeline supplying fuel to the southeast suffered a breach and spill. Due to heavy rain and flooding, the repairs took some time before being completed. This again caused a shortage that led to an increase in gas prices.
The Different Ways You Can Save on Gas
The higher gas prices right now aren’t that unexpected due to the consequences of all the incidents that affected the supply of crude oil. The prices will likely rise even more, making it essential that you come up with ways to save on gas. The rest of this article will give you some gas-saving tips to get through the oil price hike without it hurting your pocket too much.
Change Your Driving Habits
It only makes sense that the first step towards saving on gas involves rethinking how you use your car. The idea is to change the driving habits that cause you to keep going to the gas pump. Several possible scenarios can happen when you examine your driving habits, such as deciding to buy a more energy-efficient car or opting to walk/cycle on shorter journeys.
Know the Mileage of Your Car
It would help if you got an idea about the mileage of the cars you currently drive. Knowing their mileage will help you see how exactly the price increase impacts your gas costs. You can figure this out better if you change your driving patterns, track them, and see if there are any improvements. The insights you get from this can help you decide what to do next.
Assess the Impact of the Rising Gas Prices on Your Family
How does the increasing gas prices actually affect your financial situation? Is the gas price hike as terrible as you believed it to be? If you’ve proven that it is actually making a significant dent in your budget, you can start thinking of more ways to improve your situation. It’s also the perfect time to re-examine your budget.
Change Driving Style and Properly Maintain Car
Many factors can affect your car costs, such as your driving style and whether you conduct the necessary maintenance your car needs. Changing to a relaxed driving style could be your greatest fuel saver compared to braking sharply and constantly changing lanes. On the other hand, keeping up with maintenance ensures your car is in its best condition.
Learn the Current Gas Prices
Do you know the current state of gas prices? You have to make sure you know this to make informed decisions whenever you get your car filled up. One way to stay updated is using apps and sites like Gasbuddy.com. They help check gas prices in your location, so you can go to the spots where you can save the most.
Say No to “Gas-Saving” Devices
Don’t be fooled by these so-called gas-saving devices. A lot of them don’t actually work, so you only waste your hard-earned money. You would be better off trying more practical tips than using devices that say they can “lower” your gas feeds without much effort. There might be some that actually work, but there’s a bigger chance of you getting a fake.
Utilize Fuel Rewards Programs
Is there a gas station where you like to go? They might have a rewards program, and it would be a waste not to take advantage of that. If you enroll in their fuel rewards program, you can collect points that may equal discounts whenever you fill-up. It may seem small, but you can add as much as $50 to your savings when those points accumulate.
Use Apps To Shop Around
One of the things that can add to your gas costs is missing a gas station that sells significantly cheaper fuel. It’s the worst feeling, too, when you’ve already filled your tank, drove for a while, and then saw there could have been a better option. It’s a good thing you can avoid that by using apps like Waze or GasBuddy. Before you get your tank filled, use any of these apps to find where the cheapest gas in your vicinity is.
Plan When You Get Fill Ups
It would be great if you could fill up your tank at a cheap price whenever it’s almost empty. However, what often happens is you have to stop at some national gas chain and get your tank filled with fuel priced at top dollar. Fortunately, you can avoid this by planning when you get filled up, thanks to knowing when prices tend to climb. This way, you can avoid the rising gas prices whenever possible.
Ensure Tires Are Inflated Correctly
Before you drive, be sure to kick the tires to make sure they’re not under-inflated. If they are, you will likely burn more fuel per mile than when your tires are correctly inflated. You could be wasting at least a dollar for every mile you drive around between fill-ups. If you want to maximize the efficiency of your fuel, ensure that your tires are properly inflated.
Try Synthetic Oil
Have you tried synthetic oil? It can make a significant difference in your engine by improving its efficiency. The drawback is that it will usually be twice as much to get a fully synthetic oil change than a normal oil change. But, when it comes to efficiency, you can expect synthetic oil to pay off in boosting the life of your engine.
Shut All Devices Off Before Turning Engine Off
When you turn off your engine, all the other devices like your AC, GPS, and phone charger also shut down. But did you know, you can save more on gas if you shut them all down before turning off your engine? This happens because your car takes more gas to restart with all your devices turned on. If they are off when you restart, your car naturally doesn’t need a lot of fuel to start, allowing you to save some gas.
Use Grocery Store Rewards Programs
Just like your favorite gas station, the grocery stores where you buy your necessities may have loyalty programs that include gas rewards. There are also typically points programs that allow you to collect points to pay for part of your gas costs. It depends on the grocery store, but one point may equal a dollar saved or even more. Some of them have expirations, so just make sure to use them before that time to get the most out of your gas discount.
Buy Fuel Using a Cash Back Credit Card
If you have never heard of cash-back credit cards before, you should definitely get one. Your responsible usage of credit cards lets you reap some fantastic rewards, including discounts on gas pumps. There are different conditions to use these rewards depending on the credit card, but either way, it’s a discount. Just make sure to pay off your balance to avoid incurring more charges.
Shop for the Right Fuel-Saving Car
So, you’ve decided to change cars, and you’re looking into fuel-saving vehicles. If that’s the case, remember to be smart about it. When gas prices increase, the sales of fuel-efficient cars often increase as well. Because everyone is looking to save on gas, the competition for fuel-saving cars drives up their prices. You don’t want to be cornered and swept away while the sales environment is hot, so be sure to prepare yourself before shopping around.
Get a Smaller Vehicle
Won’t you consider getting a smaller car instead? If your lifestyle doesn’t require you to drive around a large vehicle, switching to a smaller one can help you save not only on fuel costs but also on the purchase of the car and maintenance. Owning a small car and then renting a bigger one when needed is a lot less expensive. This way, you won’t be taking the full brunt of the costs of operating and maintaining a big car that isn’t fully utilized most of the time.
Don’t Overload Your Vehicle
This tip is part of changing your driving attitude. You can improve its fuel efficiency by not overloading your car since you aren’t putting pressure on the aerodynamics. When you place cargo on the car’s roof, it likely puts a strain on your engine and affects your fuel mileage. You can still put items on the top, but avoid excess weight as much as possible.
Don’t Idle for More Than a Minute
If you want to save on fuel, avoid idling if you can. Just a minute of idling is enough to consume about half a gallon of your gas per hour. At the same time, it emits carbon dioxide that returns to the atmosphere, increasing your carbon footprint. Some of today’s engines consume less gas if you turn them off and then restart instead of letting them idle for a while.
If you want to save on gas costs, start by changing how you drive. Avoid accelerating rapidly or braking hard, don’t idle for too long, and shut down all devices when you turn off the engine. Additionally, plan your trips and use apps to see where the lowest prices are. Take advantage of those reward programs, too, and if you can, try to bike or walk instead.
Don’t worry too much about gas prices because what goes up will eventually come down. If you factor in rising inflation, the current fuel rate is just as bad as in 2008, 2012, and even in the early 1980s. But, they bounced back, didn’t they? Instead of worrying, use the gas-saving tips mentioned above to get through the current high gas costs.
About the Author
Rick’s been with Money Fit by DRS for 18 years and early in his career, he managed two divisions, customer service, and credit counseling, before settling in his current role of managing the organization’s marketing efforts. He is known for being someone who’d give the shirt off of his back for you, and smile while doing it! He takes that positivity and problem solving to consumers when relaying a message of help, hope, and better times ahead. When he isn’t helping consumers regain control of their debt, he loves traveling and seeing new places.