When you start driving, your gas money kinda becomes the adult version of your lunch money. And with studies showing that drivers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego may have spent as much as $17 billion on gas in 2017, and $6.8 billion of that expense essentially wasted due to congestion and bad driving habits in peak traffic, it's becoming more apparent than ever that drivers all over the country may need to be a little more conscious of their gas budget.
Saving money for gas is hard when all you really wanna buy are hot cheetos and a subscription to Tidal (controversial, we know). We get it. But it’s not impossible, and at Aceable, we’ve been-there-done-that enough times to write the book on how to be efficient with your gas money. Leggo!
How To Save Money
When it comes to saving money, it’s the little things that have the biggest impact. Here are some tips we love:
- Save your spare change and turn it into cash.
- Sleep on your purchases. Online shopping? Put it in your cart, but wait until the next day to see if you really want it after all.
- Use online apps to help you save where it counts. Tip Yourself, Qapital and Digit are all apps that allow you to automatically save money without putting in too much thought or effort.
- Cook more (or eat at home) instead of eating out so much.
Driving to Save Gas
- Using your brakes requires gas (the car turns gas into heat and brake powder). Try to drive in a way that allows you to use the brakes sparingly. For example, if you have a red light ahead, there’s no reason to speed towards it. Coast as much as possible.
- Don’t accelerate rapidly, speed or brake aggressively. According to FuelEconomy.gov, this type of behavior could lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds, and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic!
- Drive at a slower speed. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds over 50 mph. Use cruise control to maintain a constant speed. (If you choose to drive slower, make sure you do so in the right lane.)
- Avoid traffic, especially stop-and-go traffic. That may mean leaving for school or work a little earlier to beat the traffic rush. While losing precious sleep sounds pretty rough, it might be worth it if you’re committed to saving money.
- If you do get stuck in traffic, try to coast at a consistent, low speed instead of constantly starting and stopping again.
- Don’t idle. Turn your car off if you’re waiting for someone. Idling can use a quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour!
- Be reasonable with your AC usage. You don’t need the AC on blast at 60 when it’s 80 degrees outside.
- Keep your vehicle well-maintained. That means routine checkups and servicing, like keeping your fluids in check, replacing your filters and changing your engine oil.
- Remove excess weight from your vehicle. Get rid of the bike rack if you’re not using it, and clear out all that junk from your trunk.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Under inflated tires can reduce your fuel economy and cost you 5% to 6% more in fuel consumption.
Technology Is Your Friend
- There are tons of apps out there meant to help you find the best prices on gas. We especially love GasBuddy and Gas Cubby.
- Use apps to scope out traffic and how to avoid it. We love Waze for shaving off buckets of frustration from our commutes.
- Scout out grocery stores with gas stations. Some offer loyalty cards with fuel points.
Miscellaneous Gas-Saving Hacks
- Get a credit card that gives good cash back rewards for spending on gas. Chase Freedom offers 5% rewards on rotating categories, one of which includes gas. The Discover it - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer also offers 5% cashback on rotating bonus categories, which historically includes gas in the first quarter. The Amex Blue Cash Preferred gives you an unlimited 3% back on gas station purchases year round.
- Use mass transit, bike or walk when possible.
- Don’t buy oversized or gas guzzling cars (that’s a given!).
- Avoid gas stations right off the highway, as they’ll be more expensive.
- Buy gas early or late in the day (as temperatures rise, gas density falls - so you get less of it). Also buy gas early on in the week, as prices will go up throughout the week.