Don't Let Gas Guzzle Your Budget

Hey Everyone!

I hope you are having an amazing and productive week. In this post I'll be covering eight strategies to help with your gas budget. Have you noticed an increase on your gas receipts? It's not in your head, the change has been slow, but it's definitely happening. This year gas prices have spiked to their highest point since 2014. There are a number of reasons for the price increase including:

-an increase in travel

-ending the Iran deal and reinstating sanctions

-the value of the US dollar is on the decline

Unfortunately, all of these things are completely out of our control, but there are a few tactics to help you save at the pump. None of these tips will reduce the actual gas price but will ensure you get your money's worth when you fill up.

1) Utilize grocery store rewards programs. If you frequently shop at grocery stores with sister gas stations, you probably have signed up for a customer loyalty program. Use it! Many of these supermarket chains across the country offer discounts based on the amount spent on groceries within that month. Of course you don't want to buy more groceries to save ten cents, so be sure to download bonus coupons to really knock down the price at the pump. For example, Krogers offers double and sometimes even triple points for groceries purchased within a particular window of time. All I have to do is go to the app or online to download the coupon to my card, set my next grocery trip during its validity dates and rack up the points. The most I have ever saved was sixty cents, I made sure to wait until my tank was empty before I filled back up to really take advantage of the discount lol.

A few other stores that offer similar programs include Winn-Dixie, Safeway, Bi-Lo, Albertsons, Food City, Giant Eagle, Market 32, Shaw's, Pay-Less Supermarket, Fred Meyer, QFC and Fry's Food.

2) Refill your tank at the halfway mark, don't wait until you're nearly on empty. We've all heard this one before, but why? There are a few reasons but here are the ones that matter to me the most:

- You will wear out your fuel pump by riding your car on E - Gas evaporates when it makes contact with air, more empty space in the tank leads to more evaporation

3) Use your tools and resources to save. Google Maps will pull up nearby gas stations and those that are on your route, along with their gas prices. GasBuddy is also a great site that will keep you updated with all the prices of the stations near and far. MapQuest has an extremely cool tool on the website, I'm not sure if it is on the app because I don't use the app. It allows you to add you car to your trip and will estimate the cost of gas based on your car's average MPG.

4) Keep your vehicle weight low. The heavier your car is the more gas it needs to keep pushing along. When is the last time you cleaned out your trunk? Check and see if there is anything in there that can be placed in the garage or elsewhere.

5) Get oil changes and general maintenance conducted regularly. I will tell you from first hand experience, if you push back your oil change, you will pay for that decision in gas. My car averages 28-30 MPG most days, when it's time for an oil change that number quickly drops to 23-25. That can be a difference of 80+ miles at every fill up! Make sure to keep your car in tip top shape for optimal performance and largest gas savings.

6) Avoid traffic by leaving earlier or later, to avoid rush hours. Sitting stagnant in traffic is a great way to burn gas while getting nowhere. I used so much more gas when I worked downtown, forced to sit stagnant on I-20 for at least 15 minutes every morning. I now only go to the office three days a week and my drive is all street traffic. I still deal with a ton of cars but I'm continuously moving throughout the commute.

7) Fill up at night or in the morning, when it's cooler. Oil expands with a rise in temperature. So if you fill up in the middle of the afternoon with the sun beaming, you are going to pump quite a few expanded molecules. This means you can fill up completely, take your car home and will have less gas in your tank when night falls and the gas molecules shrink back down to normal size. (WARNING: I have no science background, don't quote me)

8) This one may be a bit of a stretch, but I figured I would list it anyways. Move to one of the ten states with the lowest gas prices (Missouri, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Kansas). I haven't done any additional research on these states but the costs of living may be lower too.

I hope these tips are useful to you the next time you head to the gas station. But, keep in mind gas prices are predicted to increase over the next few months. Be prepared by squeezing a few extra dollars into your gas envelope now. If you are interested in more tips on saving money make sure to subscribe to my blog, check out the current posts and purchase my new book.

If you are interested in learning more about creating a budget that works for you and helps you meet your financial goals make sure to tune into my Instagram livestream this Saturday at 7pm EST for my training on Budget Basics. If you don't follow me on Instagram you can find me here @sonshine_enterprise

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