In the last week, gas prices have increased by around $0.17 per gallon. Experts predict that the prices will continue to rise in light of troubles in the Middle East and sharp rises in the price of crude oil. Here in Wichita, we’ve seen gas prices jump a dime at a time, overnight. Gas is currently around $3.21 per gallon, and is expected to reach $4.00 per gallon by the summer. In light of this latest gas crunch, consumers need to be proactive and take steps to conserve fuel and money. As a certified financial advisor, I hear a lot of questions on how to save money and stretch a dollar. Here are some common sense and not-so-common sense things you can do to make your gas dollars stretch farther.
This is something I do even when gas prices are low. Combine errands and trips so you don’t have to drive as many miles. And if your school district offers school bus service for your kids, definitely take advantage of it (we don’t have this option, living in the City). I’ll hit the dry cleaners and the post office when I pick my kids up from school, since these locations are halfway between their schools. I can just make a big circle. Or I’ll run by the grocery store after I drop them off at school in the morning, since it is on my way home. When I have to go anywhere in the City of Wichita, I do all my errands at once, and plan my stops out in a big circuit, trying to make direct trips and avoid long stoplights. A little bit of planning and time with Google Maps can save tons of cash at the pump.
Keep Your Car Well-Maintained
This goes almost without saying. Keep your oil changed as per manufacturer’s specifications, and keep your tires properly inflated. Brush snow and ice off your vehicle. Only run the defroster or air conditioner when necessary. I am lucky to be married to a certified ASE Master Mechanic and graduate of the Ford ASSET program, so all of our cars are well-kept, and I don’t have to worry about this.
Change Your Shopping Habits
This is something that many advisors forget to tell you. The rising cost of fuel affects more than just prices at the pump. Groceries and other items that you purchase from stores will rise in price due to the increased costs of fuel. Companies have to pay to transport the goods from point-of-origin to the retailer, and as fuel costs increase, they increase the prices of the goods to compensate. Buy in bulk, comparison-shop, hit the local discount stores, buy generic when possible, and clip those coupons! By spending about 30 minutes a week on perusing store ads and clipping coupons, I cut my grocery bills in half. You can also have groceries delivered or shop online – with cash-back programs and free shipping codes, you can save so much more than you can by shopping in person.
Work From Home / Tele-Commute
If you have the option to work from home, take it. I am lucky to be self-employed as a freelance writer and financial advisor with my office in my home. I save thousands of dollars a year by not having a commute to work. If you can’t do this, consider cutting your hours at work, and picking up a work-at-home job to fill in the gap. This will save money in the long run.
There are tons of ways to save money when gas prices rise. Sometimes you just have to be creative and think outside the box. If you have any questions about this or any other financial topic, seek the services of a qualified financial advisor.
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