If your gasoline costs are breaking your budget, you are not alone. Knowing how to save money on gas has become a must for all of us. If you have been struggling to keep your tank full, let me show you every way I know to save money on gasoline; plus what to do if you run out and can’t afford to buy more.
I drive a Subaru Outback. A year ago, it took me roughly $35.00 to fill my 18-gallon tank. These days, I’m pushing $70 or more just to buy that same 18-gllongs and let me tell you; my budget is feeling it.
I would imagine yours is as well no matter what you drive.
As gas creeps closer to $5.00/gallon, we are all going to feel it eventually; especially those of us that drive larger or heavier cars.
But while saving money on gas may seem like some unknown ancient magic spell, the truth is, it’s not actually that difficult. Obviously, we can’t help what the price per gallon is at the pump, but we can help our cars maximize the gasoline that we are paying for and maximizing what our cars use will ultimately help us to save money on gas.
Use a Gas Savings App
Most of us use smartphones at this point, so why not put it to work for you? Using a gas savings app does exactly this.
GetUpside is the gasoline savings app that I personally use the most often. It allows me to quickly scan gas prices around me so I can chose the cheapest, but it also gives me cash back when I buy gas a lot of the time.
No really, they pay cashback on gasoline. Up to $0.25 per gallon back! It is a fantastic way to save money on gas since it quite literally puts some of the money you’re spending back in your pocket.
It’s super simple to save money on gas with GetUpside too:
- Download the app HERE
- Claim an offer near you
- Fill up your car
- Upload your receipt or use the “check in” option
- Get your cash back!
If GetUpside doesn’t sound like something you’re interested in, check out the GasBuddy app. It does the same thing with one big exception. To my knowledge, GasBuddy to does not give cash back on gasoline. I don’t use it often enough to know for certain though so if I am wrong, please let me know.
Earn Free Gas Cards
What better way to save money on gas than by getting that gasoline free? Sites such as InstaGC and Swagbucks give you the chance to earn points that you can exchange for free gas cards or free gift cards.
This can be a great way to save money on gas since the money you’re using to pay does not come out of your regular family budget!
This is something that I personally have done monthly since 2011. There are a ton of sites that will let you earn free gas cards or other free gift cards, but my two favorite are the two I mentioned a minute ago; InstaGC and Swagbucks.
With InstaGC, you complete offers, click links, listen to music and more to earn points. Cash out as soon as you get to $1.00. You can cash out by gift card, Paypal, Direct Deposit and even use it to earn free Bitcoin! Gift cards and Paypal payments are paid instantly as long as they are under $25.00!
Sign up for InstaGC HERE and get free points when you sign up.
With Swagbucks, you can earn points for searching the web, printing coupons, paying games, watching videos and so much more. It’s super easy to earn points with them. Payout options range from gift cards to Paypal. Once you request, your payout is sent in 7-10 days.
Sign up for Swagbucks HERE and get free points when you sign up and confirm your email.
Buy Groceries to Save Money on Gas
While groceries are expensive, sometimes they can actually save you money. For instance, Kroger often gives me coupons that triple my normal fuel points for a three day period.
These triple fuel points can often add up to almost $1.00 off per gallon for me if I do my monthly grocery shopping while I have the coupon.
This isn’t a Kroger specific promotion. In fact, most grocery stores that offer a gas station as well will often have these promos. Using them can be a fantastic way to off-set the cost of groceries and to save money on gas.
Even if you don’t have a coupon or promo for extra points, if you’re earning them by purchasing your groceries, use them. Even a dime off per gallon can really add up depending on what you drive.
Use Sale Promotions to Save Money on Gas
In addition to those coupons and fuel points, some stores will run other promos that can earn you bonus fuel points. For instance, Kroger often runs gift card promos. Buy specific gif t cards and earn three to four times the normal fuel points.
To make this work for you, use these promos to purchase gift cards for things you regularly spend money on. For instance, pick up a Netflix gift card if it’s included and use that gift card to pay your bill. Another great option is to use them to get Visa gift cards that you can use just like cash.
Doing it this way will still allow you to pay those expenses you must pay each month, but also earn you the bonus fuel points you need to save money on gas.
Work from Home if Possible
If driving to work is costing you almost as much as you make each week, working from home may be a better option if you’re able to do so. After all, it costs nothing to go from your living room to your “office” when you work from home.
If you’re looking for work at home ideas because you don’t think your job will allow you to do so, these 10 ways to make extra money quick are all able to be done from anywhere with an internet connection. You could also consider learning how to start a money making blog just like this one. Blogging is able to be done from anywhere you can connect. I am proof of that – I am typing this post from the front seat of our 18-wheeler.
Air Up Your Tires
The tires on your car need to be aired up even when they are not flat. Tires that are improperly inflated don’t ride as well and cause your car to use more gasoline than you should.
If you are not sure how much air to put in your tires, check the sidewall of one of them. Along with the tire size, the recommended amount of air is written into the rubber of the tire itself.
Give Your Car a Tune Up
Just like underinflated tires use more gas, a car that is not running the best it can does too. Every 3 months at a minimum, you should be checking to make sure your car is in peak condition.
This means making sure your oil is changed on time, making sure your spark plugs are good and filling any other fluids that may be low. You will also want to consider checking belts, your air filter and anything else that may have your car running a little rough.
Use Your Windows and A/C Correctly
It may be hot out, but using your cars air conditioning at the wrong time can cost you. After all, your car have to work harder to use the a/c and when your car works harder, you use more gas.
To best optimize a/c use, its simplest to break ut down by where you are driving. For city streets and areas where you are driving 35 mph or less, roll your windows down instead.
However, once you get above 35-40 mph wind resistance comes into play. At this point, it is cheaper to roll the windows up and use the air conditioning.
Keep Your Speed Down
Remember, when your car works harder, it uses more gas. Guess what speeding does? It makes your engine work harder and you waste gas.
Instead, slow down. Keeping your speed 5-10 mph below the speed limit will usually make a very noticeable difference in your gas mileage.
Use Cruise Control Only When It Makes Sense
Cruise control can be a great way to save money on gas, but only if it is used correctly. If you sre driving on primarily flat roads, your cruise will save gas.
If, however, you are driving hilly or curcy roads, don’t use it. Because cruise keeps your car at a steady speed, it will use more gas going up hills just to maintain that speed.
Don’t Idle for Long
Obviously, if your car is running, it is using gas, but some people like to idle their cars because they think they will use less gas than they would restarting the engine.
Usually, this is not true.
If you are going to be more than three or four minutes, it’s much more fuel efficient to simply shut your car off.
We are all familiar with this one, but it bares repeating. The simplest and most effective way you can save money on gas is to just drive less.
Whether that means you walk or take a city bus or it means you don’t go somewherw you normally would, the fewer miles you put on your car, the more gas you’ll save.
Use Correct Motor Oil
All cars use motor oil, but using an incorrect oil can cause your engine to work overtime. I could go into the full details but for the sake of time, I will just put it this way: an oil that is either too thick or too thin for your engine will cause excessive wear and cause you to get a much lower miles per gallon rate out of your tank.
If you aren’t sure which oil your car takes, check the oil cap. Most newer cars have it written into the cap.
It will also save you money on gas to make sure you do oil changes on time. You should change your oil every 3-5,000 miles depending on the vehicle you drive. It can be cheaper to do this yourself, but if you are not comfortable doing it yourself, companies such as Midas often offer oil change deals to help you save on having them do it for you.
Learn How to Control Your Car in Traffic
Traffic stinks if you’re stuck in it, but it can also eat your gas. This is because most people do not actually know how to properly drive in heavy traffic; especially stop and go.
If you are stuck in traffic and are constabtly doing the stop, shoot ahead, hard brake thing, you are wasting gas. Instead, allow the person in front of you to move a bit before you do. Ease the gas instead of mashing the pedal and try to keep an even speed.
Have an Errand Day
When you need to run errands, group them all together and run them all on the same day. This ensures you aren’t wasting gas for one small errand. It also allows you to plan the most fuel efficent route and time of day.
Fill Up When Temperatures are Cooler
The time of day you fill your car up matters. Gas us less dense during the cooler morning hours. I am not getting into the science behind it, but you basically get more gas than you would later in the day; without spending extra money.
Watch Where You Fill Up
If possible, never fill your tank at a gas station right off the interstate or highway. These gas stations are often priced $0.15 or more per gallon than those farther from the main road.
It’s also best to avoid fueling at stations out in the middle of nowhere or in super small towns. No competetion means higher prices.
Optimize Wind Resistance
I mentioned wind resistance earlier, but its important enough to mention on it own. The more your car has to fight wind, the more gas you use.
A lot of things can affect wind resistance including the very design of your car. However, things such as luggage bags on the roof, bikes on the back and so on are the more common reasons. Remove these things to get better gas mileage and save yourself some cash.
Watch Your Weight
No. I am saying you need to personally lose weight, but your car may need to. Simply put, a heavier car uses more gas. If you are carrying a bunch of extra weight, take it out if you want to save money.
Avoid Emergency Fill Ups
Emergency fuel stops typically mean one thing; hitting the first gas station you see. Often, you will end up paying much more than you would if you had allowed yourself time to find a cheaper station.
A good rule of thumb to help you avoid an emergency stop is to start looking for cheaper gas when you get to half tank. This gives you plenty of time to be pick about where you stop.
Always Double Check Your Route
Getting lost or going miles out of your way only serves one purpose; wasting gas. Taking a few extra minutes before you leave home to double check your route will avoid either situation. It also allows you to find the most direct route to where you are headed avoiding extra miles that don’t need driven.
Baby Your Gas Pedal
When I was younger, I loved hearing my engine roar as I mashed the gas pedal. Little did I know I was costing myself extra money just to hear that sound.
When you put the gas pedal to the floor, you flood your engine with more gasoline than necessary which ultimately wastes it. Instead, baby your gas pedal. You will take off and reach speed more slowly, but you’ll save money.
Use a Lower Octane Rating
While higher octane gas does run smoother in your engine, it is also much more expensive than the lower octane stuff. If gas prices are too high for you to continue using high octane gas, changing to the lower octane stuff will not harm your car. It will save you money every time you fill up.
Have a Bit of Loyalty
Like grocery store rewards programs, most gas stations also offer loyalty or rewards programs. This means that you can often earn points off per gallon just by filling up.
The caveat with these types of programs is to only use them when that gas is cheapest in the first place. Saving money with points off does you no good if you’re paying a higher price per gallon in the first place.
Know the Best Day of the Week to Fill Up
Just like there is a best day of the week to buy airline tickets, there are also better days to fill up your car. Knowing when and planning to fill up on these days can save you quite a bit per gallon.
Gas prices tend to be cheapest earlier in the week as opposed to the end of the week or on the weekend. Because people often have weekends off work and are out and about, demand for gasoline is higher. When demand is higher, prices are higher. Filling up earlier in the week when demand is lower means you can save money on gas without compromising how much fuel you have in your car.
Carpool When Possible
Carpooling has always been a great option for anyone looking to save time or money. Right now with gas prices being as high as they are, it should be seen as an even better option. If you have a coworker who lives nearby or have a friend who needs to run errands when you do, carpool together and split gas costs. You’ll save money and time since carpooling with two or more people qualifies you for the HOV lanes.
What To Do if You Run Out of Gas and Can’t Afford More
Unfortunately, if fuel prices continue to rise as they have for most of 2022, there may come a day when you run out of fuel and can’t afford to buy more. If that happens, you aren’t totally stuck, but your life most likely did get at least a little bit harder.
If this has happened to you, try one of these options to help:
Start a side hustle
Side hustles are quick, on the side jobs that you do when you need to make more money. If you’re lost as to where to get started, HERE is a great list. They are not likely to make you rich, but they may just help you fill your tank.
Ask Family for Help
Family is there to help when you need it. If you need gas for a legitimate reason such as work, school or anything to do with your kids, asking your family is not beyond reason. You don’t even have to ask them for money. Check to see if they will be traveling in the areas you need to go. If so, you may be able to hitch a ride with them.
Talk to Your Coworkers
It’s not uncommon for coworkers to ride to work together. After all, that is how carpooling became a thing. Ask around and see if you can hop a ride with a coworker who may work the same days and times as you and lives nearby.
Contact Local Churches or Charities
Finally, if all else fails, local churches or charities will often help people with gas money when the gasoline is needed to get to work or medical appointments. If you’re in this situation, calling around will not hurt anything. The worst they can do is tell you no.