With gas prices climbing higher, the amount you spend getting to and from work or just running around your neighborhood can add up if you are constantly driving. According to the U.S. Energy Formation Administration, the average American spents almost $3,000 or 7 percent of income in gas. Fortunately, these costs don't have to be harmful to your finances, and with better technology and public transportation becoming more convenient, there are other options.
Maintain Your Vehicle
If you own a car, there are a few tricks you can incorporate into your daily habits to make your drive more efficient and reduce the amount you have to spend on gas. Keeping your car and engine tuned will help it run better. When buying a new car, consider more fuel-efficient alternatives such as hybrid vehicles.
One of the simplest ways to make your car more efficient is to check that your tires are inflated to the correct pressure. Tires with too little air will use more gas. When driving, try to avoid making lots of small or sudden stops with fast start-ups. These actions will suck through a tank of gas faster and can raise your maintenance costs.
Another driving tip is to consolidate your errands. You can avoid wasting gas by doing all your errands at once instead of running around town multiple times during the week. Putting all your errands together could also help focus your shopping and help avoid overspending by stopping at a store simply because you are in the area.
Shop Around for Gas
When it comes time to fill up, compare prices at different gas stations, as they can vary as much as 20 percent. Save money by doing a little research to find the best price in your area or along your route to work. Even a difference of 20 cents can add up to a few hundred dollars in savings each year.
If you have to drive to work, share the cost with other commuters. You can also take advantage of highway carpool lanes to make your trip faster. Sharing rides is also beneficial for the environment, as it cuts your pollution in half. Each person only has to pay a small share of the driving costs per week, helping both the driver and the riders.
Take public Transit
Consider taking the bus or train to work instead of driving yourself. Not only will you save money on gas by getting a commuter pass, you aren't polluting as much as you would by driving alone. In addition, you won't have to pay for parking. Driving less may also be beneficial for your car insurance, giving you a lower premium. If you use public transportation to get to work, some employers will subsidize part of it or you might be eligible for a tax deduction.
Use public transportation instead of taking cabs when possible. Cab fares can add up quickly, but you can cut them out and save more by taking public transit home instead. If you take cabs frequently, the savings might help you start a fund for something else.
Cycling is becoming more popular among commuters, as many cities have started to build bike lanes to accommodate more riders. Weather permitting, consider riding your bike to work. You will save money while being environmentally conscious and even get in a workout. Some offices even have locker rooms as an incentive for more commuters to start using other methods to get to work.
If the distance isn't too far, consider walking to work or walking to public transportation. You won't spend a dime by walking, and it is good for you. If your work is too far, walk instead of driving when you are running errands such as going to the post office.