In a gas-price rant, my 80-year-old neighbor recently told me he remembers buying gas for around a quarter a gallon in the 1960s.
He’s fuming about paying $4 – or more – now.
I looked it up. Sixty years ago, the average price of gasoline nationwide was 32 cents.
If you adjust for inflation, that 32 cent price in 1962 is equivalent to $2.98 in 2022. So instead of a 13x jump since then, technically, it’s less than a 2x move.
Still, I can’t blame him for being upset about rising gas prices…
With inflation at record highs… home prices out of reach… and skyrocketing food prices… paying more to fill the gas tank is taking an economic toll on many Americans.
And with the war between Ukraine and Russia dragging on, Americans will likely feel the pain for at least a few months more.
According to analysts, there are only two surefire ways to reduce long-term gas prices: Drilling for more oil or reducing our dependency on it.
And since those two ideas tend to fall on opposite sides of the political spectrum, it’s unlikely we’ll see any meaningful moves in either direction in the near term.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take now that don’t require action from the federal government.
I’m not talking about conventional investments like Exxon Mobil (XOM), the United States Gasoline Fund (UGA), or the United States Oil Fund (USO). Although, they are viable ways to play rising prices in the short term.
Instead, I’m going to give you something much more valuable… Advice that will help you save on gas in the long term – no matter where prices go from here.
My 2022 Pump-Savings Tips
Gasoline is a necessity… We hit gas stations on an as-needed basis. And even in today’s remote-work environment, we still need our cars to pick up groceries or run errands.
Rising gas prices hit even harder for people like my neighbor, who’s on a fixed income. And like many of us, he wants actual solutions… not a political blame game or speculative market plays.
So if you’re willing to be open-minded and disciplined, here are 11 tips for saving gas money:
Buy gas early in the week. A GasBuddy study reports Monday is the best day of the week to buy gas. Since there’s variation across states, you can view GasBuddy’s Best and Worst Days to Buy Gas, By State.
Download a free gas-price finder app. GasBuddy, Gas Guru, and Gas Prices by MapQuest are all top-rated apps. They are easy-to-use ways to find the cheapest gas station(s) in your area.
Pay in cash. Some gas stations offer lower prices if you pay by cash. They usually advertise it on their price boards, and the difference can be as much as 10 cents or more.
Use a credit card with max gas rewards. See NerdWallet’s Best Gas Credit Cards of March 2022. Make sure to pay off the charges each month to avoid paying interest.
Sign up for a gas station reward program. Most gas stations (ExxonMobil, Shell, Speedway, etc.) have them.
Take advantage of warehouse clubs. BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club price gas cheaper as an extra membership incentive.
Keep your car in good shape. Maintain a clean air filter… keep tires properly inflated and aligned… stay on top of oil changes and use the recommended grade. Basically, stick to a regular maintenance schedule.
Drive sensibly. Speeding and jackrabbit starts and stops hurt fuel economy. Use cruise control when possible.
Use GPS. A navigation app, like Waze, Google Maps, or Apple Maps, will provide the most efficient route to a destination.
Consider alternative transportation. Carpool. Ride a bike. Or use public transportation.
Of course, similar to using coupons at the grocery store, these tips will only save you a few cents here and there on your gas prices. But over time, they’ll add up to a bundle.
And when gas prices eventually come down, you’ll continue to save at the pump if you follow these tips. So it’s a great way to turn spare change into a bigger bankroll.
Start Small, Save Big
As the war in Ukraine continues, it’s likely gas prices will continue to climb over the coming weeks and possibly months.
Pair that with rising inflation, and it’s easy to see why people like my neighbor are so upset.
It’s becoming more expensive to do necessary things like buy food, heat your home, or drive your car.
So if you don’t already do them, try a few tips from the list above for about a month. Then compare what you paid for gas versus the month before. And let us know how much you save right here.
The tips I shared above aren’t a silver bullet for rising gas prices… but saving a little bit here and there will add up over time.
Analyst, Palm Beach Daily