Gasoline prices suck. Seriously. We all know it. And we all want to figure out the best way to save money on gas, especially as prices increase during the summer. So, I’m sharing my gas saving tips. I am not a car expert (ha ha ha!) but I know how to save money on gas for my car, because I’m frugal like that. The two biggest things you can do to save money on gas are drive smarter to increase your fuel economy, and shop smarter to lower your cost per gallon.
How to Save Money on Gas
Improve Your Miles Per Gallon
1. Don’t drive.
It has to be said. If you don’t drive your car, you won’t spend money on gas. Save trips for when they are necessary and think about walking or biking somewhere, or even taking a bus.
2. Combine errands.
And when you do drive, run as many errands as possible
3. Don’t idle your vehicle.
Not only does idling hurt our poor atmosphere, it also hurts your pocketbook. Stop it. If you are waiting for someone, turn off the car. If you are in the drive through lane, turn off the car. Stopped for a train? Turn off your vehicle. I’d even go so far as to suggest you turn off your vehicle at those long stop lights. Why idle for two minutes? Stop and go traffic kills your fuel economy, so don’t let it anymore!
You are driving along and you see that a stop sign or stop light is ahead. What do you do? Do you wait until the last minute to hit the brakes? Or do you slowly apply the brakes over the next 100 feet? May I suggest you coast to slow down for as long as possible. Coasting is great for your fuel economy as you are not engaging the gas, nor the brakes. Obviously once you approach the stop light or sign you will have to apply the brakes and actually stop, but coast for as long as possible. Plus, chances are some of those red lights will change to green before you even have to apply the brakes! Also, coast to accelerate: take your foot off the pedal when going along. Don’t worry too much about the speed limit, you’ll slow down soon as the road levels and you continue to coast.
5. Go easy on the gas!
Want to know what eats up your gas? Speeding up after you are stopped. That’s part of why my previous point about coasting makes sense. If you don’t ever have to come to a complete stop (because the light changed as you were slowly slowing down and approaching that intersection) then you won’t have to hit the gas very much at all to get back up to the speed limit. But, no matter when you are starting up again, go easy on the gas! Slowly press down on that gas pedal and get up to speed. Don’t worry about the people behind you. Just remember you are helping them save on gas costs too! Plus, sometimes speeding up too quickly after a stop sign or light just means speeding so you can get to the next stop. It just doesn’t make sense. Easy does it guys and gals!
6. Drive on the highway.
Because stop and go traffic is the worst for your fuel economy try to avoid it as much as possible (but use the two previous points when you can’t) and take the highways and interstates.
7. Avoid rush hour (and school zones too).
Obviously, for some, you can’t avoid rush hour traffic. You have to work at a certain time. But, when you aren’t working, try hard to avoid those peak traffic times. Run errands after the kids are asleep, go out earlier on a Saturday, or do grocery shopping during the day if you can. Being stuck in traffic, stopping, and starting, is not so great for fuel economy. For the same reasons, try to avoid school zones during drop off and pick up. I like to avoid them during school hours too so I don’t have to slow down, but that’s really more of a personal preference.
Lowering the Cost Per Gallon
8. Don’t wait until empty to fill up.
Waiting until the last minute isn’t a great thing when you’re talking about gasoline in a car. One, if you run out of gas you will be stuck somewhere. Two, it could end up costing you way more than you want to pay. I recommend filling up your car whenever gas prices are low. Gas prices fluctuate frequently, so if you know what the average cost per gallon in your area is, you should also know when the prices are at the low point, and probably set to go up that lovely $.30/gallon increase. In fact, if you notice that some of the gas stations in town have just raised their prices, be sure to fill up at the next one you see that hasn’t done so yet!
9.Fuel reward programs.
With the variety of fuel reward programs available, you need to be taking advantage of at least one of them! Don’t pay full price at the pumps! Sometimes, it’s even as simple as paying cash, or buying a (needed) cash wash with your fill-up. Then there are individual gas station rewards cards, cash back credit cards, and grocery store loyalty cards too. Some credit cards earn you 1-5% cash back on all of your gas purchases (which isn’t much, but hey, it adds up!)
Kroger Fuel Points Reward Program
My personal favorite way to save money on gas is through the Kroger fuel rewards program. I love Kroger. And a big part why is their fuel points! Every dollar I spend there earns me a fuel point or more. Every 100 points is $0.10 off per gallon, combining up to 1000 points per month or $1.00 off per gallon. While we don’t usually get up to 1000 points in a month (points start fresh each month, but can be redeemed the following month still), we’ve mastered the system. Here’s how:
We pretty much do all of our shopping at Kroger, ensuring we rack up those fuel points. Plus, we even accumulate fuel points for WIC orders and all our non-food purchases (which are quite a few each month). And, right now Kroger is doing their 2x Fuel Points promotion again this summer! If you download the promotional coupon onto your Kroger card and then shop at Kroger on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays from now until the end of July, you will receive twice as many fuel points! I am now officially shopping only on Friday or Saturday mornings for the next few months. They also run great fuel point promotions on gift cards where sometimes it is 4x the fuel points instead of the standard 2x.
Optimizing Fuel Savings – Lowing the Average Cost Per Gallon
But, we don’t just cash in on those fuel points whenever and however. We want optimal savings at the pump! We generally let our fuel points accumulate as much as possible, waiting until both of our vehicles (an Accord and a Suburban) need a good amount of fuel and gallon prices are low. Sometimes, however, this means we will splash a few gallons in a tank for a day or two, or will even skip using the fuel points to fill up the Honda because gas prices aren’t so crazy high and we only have like 200 fuel points. Either way, we watch and track the fuel price trend in our city like a dingo watches a baby. We just know when the price is right and set to spike its regular $.30 hike overnight and try to fill up before that happens.
The reason we do this is so we can use our Kroger fuel points for the maximum amount of gallons allowed – 35 gallons. Our big suburban boasts about a 30 gallon tank, and our Honda Accord about an 18 gallon tank. Neither car can hold 35 gallons alone, so that means wasted savings.
So, my husband and I drive both of our vehicles to the nearest (cheapest) Kroger fuel station, kids in tow. My husband handles the gas pump, and I move around the vehicles. Once the first vehicle is filled, I quickly pull it forward, run back to the other car and pull it forward, while my husband stands there holding the pump in his hand so it doesn’t reset, and then fills up the second vehicle until we hit the max 35 gallons (the pump automatically stops). If the second vehicle still needs more fuel we may or may not fill it up at regular price, depending on whether the price is at a high or low.
The reason we go through all the hassle of saving up points, splashing in a gallon or two here and there, waiting for the price to drop, instead of filling up, and take both vehicles to the pump at the same time, is to lower our average cost per gallon long-term. And it works. I would bet we are averaging $3.25 a gallon so far this year. Right now the average cost of gas in Indianapolis is $3.90, so the savings are HUGE! We’re easily saving $35 or more a month on fuel by shopping at Kroger (which we already do anyway because of the other great deals. And no, Kroger is not paying me to say this stuff – I wish!). If we had a Kroger credit card (we don’t) we could save an additional 5 cents per gallon as well.
Using Kroger fuel points is one of the smartest and easiest ways to save money at the pump, much better than those 1-3% cash back credit cards!
So tell me, how do you like to save money on gas? Any tips for me?