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52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Cut Your Fuel Costs {Week 38}

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

One simple way to save $100 per year is by lowering your fuel costs. If you shave off just $3 in gasoline costs every week, that’s well over $100 in savings per year.

Here are some practical ways to consider lowering your fuel costs:

1. Have a cash budget for gas.

We used to always pay for gas with our debit card, but while we tried to stick with our allotted budget, we found it was easy to go a little over every month — especially with fluctuating gas prices. We switched to using cash only for gas last year and we’ve seen a decrease in our gas budget. Why? Because we are more mindful of our gas usage and because cash forces us to stick with our budget.

2. Buy lower-grade fuel.

Unless your vehicle requires higher grade fuel, there’s no need to spend the extra cents on it per gallon. While it might not seem like much, those extra cents add up quickly!

3. Observe the speed limit.

Each vehicle is different, but typically gas mileage plummets when you drive over 60 miles per hour. In fact, it’s estimated that for each five miles over 60 miles per hour you drive, it’s the equivalent of paying an additional $0.24 per gallon!

4. Combine errands.

Have a general rule of thumb that you won’t go out shopping or running errands unless you have at least three stops to make. Before you go, map out the most efficient route. Not only will this save you time, it will also lower your gasoline expenses. Plus, you’ll likely carefully consider whether or not that quick trip to the store for milk or bread is worth it or whether you can make-do with what you have on hand.

I’ve also found it helpful to limit errands and shopping to one or two days per week and to work errands or shopping trips into driving I’m already planning to do. For instance, if I’m going somewhere close to the health food store, I’m going to try and work in a stop there to save me making an extra trip later in the week. It only takes a little bit extra time and it costs me almost nothing in fuel since I’m already going to be driving by.

5. Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle.

If you have more than one vehicle in your household, use the vehicle with the highest miles per gallon as often as you can. According to FuelEconomy.gov:

A vehicle that gets 30 MPG will cost you $903 less to fuel each year than one that gets 20 MPG (assuming 15,000 miles of driving annually and a fuel cost of $3.61).

Over a period of 5 years, the 30-MPG vehicle will save you $4,515.

Planning to buy a car in the near future? Aid your decision-making by using the Fuel Cost Comparison Calculator.

6. Travel during non-peak hours.

As much as you possibly can, plan your trips when it’s non rush-hour traffic. You’ll get to your destination(s) more quickly and you’ll conserve gas.

7. Consider using public transportation.

While public transportation might not seem feasible for you, if gas is eating your budget alive, it’s worth checking into. According to a study by the American Public Transportation Association, you can save over $9,000 per year by using public transportation.

Of course, this number is going to be inflated for you if you don’t work outside the home and have a regular commute, however, it’s important to note that this figure was based on a $2.75 per gallon price. With most of us paying at least $3 to $4 per gallon, if you have a daily commute, the savings could even be higher than $9,000 per year if you use public transportation!

Find more ways to save on gasoline in this post.

How do you save money on gas?

photo credit; photo credit

Other posts in the 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year series

  1. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 This Year: Bake Your Own Bread (Week #1)
  2. 52 Ways to Save at Least $100 This Year: Make Your Own Coffee at Home (Week #2)
  3. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Ditch Your Cable Package {Week 3}
  4. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Order Prescription Glasses Online {Week 4}
  5. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners {Week 5}
  6. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Mixes {Week 6}
  7. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become a One-Car Family {Week 7}
  8. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Surround Yourself With Frugal Friends {Week 8}
  9. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 a Year: Eliminate Disposable Products {Week 9}
  10. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 a Year: Cut Your Own Hair {Week 10}
  11. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Use Cloth Diapers {Week 11}
  12. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become Best Friends With Your Freezer {Week 12}
  13. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Rent Movies for FREE {Week 13}
  14. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Ask for a Discount {Week 14}
  15. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Cancel Your Gym Membership {Week 15}
  16. 52 Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Get the Best Bang for Your Buck at Yard Sales {Week 16}
  17. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Grow Some Of Your Food {Week 17}
  18. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Cut Back on the Soda Pop Habit {Week 18}
  19. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Buy in Bulk {Week 19}
  20. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Price-Match at Walmart {Week 20}
  21. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Ditch Your Landline {Week 21}
  22. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Refinance Your Mortgage {Week 22}
  23. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Follow a Local Deal Blogger {Week 23}
  24. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Use a Coupon Database {Week 24}
  25. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Plan a Weekly Menu {Week 25}
  26. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Strategically Use Daily Deal Sites {Week 26}
  27. 52 Different Ways to Save At Least $100 Per Year: Shop at Aldi {Week 27}
  28. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Buy Used Books {Week 28)
  29. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Buy Used Clothing {Week 29}
  30. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Shop With Cash {Week 30}
  31. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat Less Meat {Week 31}
  32. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Is this really a good deal? {Week 32}
  33. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: 3 Ways to Save on Online Orders {Week 33}
  34. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Turn Your Clutter Into Cash {Week 34}
  35. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Get Organized {Week 35}
  36. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Have an All-Cash Christmas {Week 36}
  37. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Sign Up for Swagbucks {Week 37}
  38. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Cut Your Fuel Costs {Week 38}
  39. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Frequent the Library {Week 39}
  40. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Simplify Birthday Parties {Week 40}
  41. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Brown Bag It {Week 41}
  42. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Snacks {Week 42}
  43. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Use a Programmable Thermostat {Week 43}
  44. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Limit Eating Out {Week 44}
  45. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Get a Bang for Your Buck on Travel Expenses {Week 45}
  46. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Don't Pay For Pre-Made Baby Food {Week 46}
  47. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat More Beans {Week 47}
  48. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Homemade Cards {Week 48}
  49. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Shop At More Than One Store {Week 49}
  50. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat From the Pantry {Week 50}
  51. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Stay Home More {Week 51}
  52. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Develop Contentment {Week 52}

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36 Comments

  • Elizabeth says:

    Saving a few cents on gas can lead to engine problems and big repairs bills. It is being penny wise and pound foolish. We have friends who tried that…eventually had to get another car. Ours still going down the road, of a similar make and age. My hubby buys the best gas he can (in other ones, gas that does not make the engine ping or other signs that say the gas is not very good), plus any time he gets ethanol gas, he also puts in additives to help the engine burn the gas better. I would advise instead of saving on cheap gas, to drive less. Find ways to take the bus, or share a ride shopping or whatever with friends. Shop online. Those are better ways to save gas. (I come from a long line of people who work on cars for a living…maybe some man can come on here and better explain what I have tried to share).

    • birthrightrose says:

      My vehicle has a MPG read out on the dash board. When we buy the cheaper gas, we get about the same miles per gallon as with the premium. At 3.50 per gallon we get 30 MPG, at 3.75 for premium, we get 38 MPG. The factor I like is with premium we fill up less often, and I feel like I’m treating the vehicle a bit better. It’s akin to eating organic vs conventionally grown produce!

    • Elizabeth says:

      PS…reading other comments below…when we live near a Costco, or anytime we drive to one (in some locations it has been an hour or more away, but we still go shop there a few times a year) we do fill up on gas…and hubby feels it has always been good gas too…good quality. We made a trip from Seattle area to Sacramento area this summer, and he looked up where all the Costco gas stations were and we only used their gas on that trip…so not only saved money up front, but we feel the gas was the best quality as well!!

    • Bonnie says:

      When we bought a new Dodge, we were advices NOT to buy mid or high grade as it would be bad for the engine. We have owned 3 Dodge vehicles and never any engine problems with low grade gas.

  • Sue says:

    Get to know which gas stations are usually the cheapest in your area. We easily save 20 cents per gallon by going to a local cash only station. There are areas in my county where I will NEVER buy gas.

  • Since we have doctors/therapy appts for my son several times a week, there’s no real option to drive less, or at off-times, etc. We spend a lot of time in the car :).

    But, we save at least $0.30 per gallon purchasing our gas a Costco. Since we fill up weekly, it makes a big difference! We probably save close to $200 a year!

    • Molly says:

      I am not sure what state your are in, but in Texas there is a driving program that takes people to an from their appts. That would be another way for you to save on your gas. Check to see if there are any programs in your area that offer that service. Usually the doctor’s offices have fliers that advertise the program up on their sliding windows or bulletin boards. You never know.

  • Shelley says:

    1) A manual transmission (think: stick shift) generally gets a few more mpg than its automatic counterpart – plus, I shift into neutral and coast downhill (and partially up the next hill), thus using no gas.
    2) A K & N air filter will add 2-3 mpg and will last one MILLION miles (you clean and “recharge them yourself – quite easy!) so you also save on replacing less efficient disposable air filters. A K & N filter can be purchased at any auto parts store and cost about twice what a regular air filter costs, so it pays for itself quickly.
    3) Empty the trunk of all “extras.” Why pay to haul the extra weight around?
    4) NEVER buy a new car (too much depreciation in the first 2 years.) I buy one 3-4 years old, keep it well maintained, and drive it forever.
    5) When considering a used vehicle, spend the money to have a trusted mechanic look it over well so you know what needs replaced/repaired. This is also good for negotiating the price you pay.
    6) Some states charge personal property taxon vehicles. Ours has one declare what they own on January 1st. SO, if you buy a vehicle and wait until Jan. 2nd, it’s like getting a year off of paying personal property tax on it. Likewise, if you’re selling a vehicle, try to get it sold before the end of the year.
    7) If you plan to hang onto a vehicle for several years, look for a model without all the bells and whistles. Electric door locks, windows, antennas, etc. all have motors which eventually need replaced. When was the last time you heard someone’s window crank or “pull-up” door lock knob needed replaced?

    • Andrea says:

      Very few vehicles come with manual door locks and windows any more, because most consumers don’t want them. We looked recently and couldn’t find anything (we wanted a commuter car, not a work truck, LOL).

      Some brands of new cars hold their value very well, so the old rules about depreciation are not necessarily true. Due to the recession, newer used vehicles are in high demand; we recently made out very well on a trade-in of a popular model. Some new vehicles come with free maintenance contracts, so you really have to consider the life-time costs of owning the vehicle, especially if you’re paying cash or getting (near) zero-percent financing.

  • Karolina says:

    Fill the tank in the morning when the temperature is lower – the fuel is more dense and you can get more miles out of it. It definitely works in hot states like California.

  • Maranda says:

    My grocery store gives gas rewards at local gas stations after you spend certain amounts at their store. If you already shop there, it works out quite well.

  • We drive a lot at our house. And with 6 of us in our family, it’s not possible to share rides when going out. We’ve found that purchasing gas at Costco is the best way for us to save money on gas. When I filled up earlier this week, gas was $.43 cheaper at Costco than any other area gas station!

  • Jillian Kay says:

    Here in DC public transportation isn’t inexpensive. I’m actually considering driving to save money.

    But, I do the same as you — fill up a certain amount, and when it is gone, I stay home. I can make a tank of gas last 6-8 weeks. Of course that will change if I start driving to work.

  • Margery H. says:

    Don’t forget carpooling! We used carpooling every weekday for 8 years and saved *many* hundreds of dollars in gas! Even last week I carpooled with a friend to a homeschool field trip which was 2 hours away.

  • Lana says:

    We take advantage of fuel rewards programs at your local grocery store. I typically have a fill up about every 6 weeks for 50-60 cents off. Also since we are loyal to one particular brand of gas their rewards program pays off, too. We use debit because we don’t want to have to go inside to pay. We always have gas money leftover at the end of the month.

  • Susan says:

    Don’t forget gas rewards if you have them in your area. Albertsons stores in my area offer $.05/gal for every $50 you spend, pre-coupons. It adds up quickly. Fred Meyer (Kroger affiliate) also offers a gas reward that can be redeemed at different places. I hardly ever gas up my car without getting at least $.10/gal off.

    I respectfully disagree with #2. While I do try to save money on gas, I don’t pinch pennies by buying low-quality gas. It’s like buying low-quality food. You may save now, but you’ll pay dearly in the long run.

    Limiting driving helps a lot. I have a 50 minute round trip daily commute, during which I pass right by every store I ever need to go to, plus the mall. Easy to do my shopping without making a special.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention carpooling. I have a teenager involved in an activity that is quite a ways away from our home but not too far from my office. I arranged for another parent to pick her up and take her, and then I take both kids home. This way, instead of making two daily trips across town three ays a week, I only make one. Not only does it save me a lot in gas, it gives me 2-1/2 hours of time each week that I used to spend driving.

    • Tabitha says:

      #2 may depend on your vehicle specs. I have a Honda Odyssey and the manual specifies the “cheaper” gas. I don’t really save anything buying premium because my engine was designed for low grade fuel. My husband has a Lexus that requires premium. It stinks at the pump and he doesn’t get as good mpg as our minivan.
      Check the manual and buy what’s recommended.

  • Susan says:

    I don’t understad #3. Highway mileage is always better than city mileage.

    • Melissa says:

      Highway mileage is better because you aren’t starting and stopping, but at speeds higher than 60 the mileage plummets because your engine is running at higher rpm’s. I had to follow my husband home from Columbia MO to Joplin MO (4 hours) and we couldn’t go any faster than 55 the whole way due to the load he had in the trailer and I got 29mpg instead of the 22mpg I got on the way up doing 65-70 the whole way.

  • Ann says:

    I realize this goes against your first point about paying with cash, but we use our Costco American Express for gas. It earns us 3% cash back regardless of where we get the gas.

    I also have the GasBuddy app. It is free and you can either allow it to find your location or enter a zip code and it will list the gas stations with their gas prices for all types of fuel.

  • Susan in St. Louis says:

    Lately the price for gas at Costco has been a good thirty cents/gallon lower than the regular station. That is huge! Just another reason I love my Costco… 😉

  • Lucy says:

    1. Buy grocery at local Kroger, also buy gift cards when they promote Fuel points rewards.

    2. Use Discover card for anything when they promote 5% cash back, it will add up if you drive a lot.

    3. Use a gas station at local warehouse club, I shop at Sam’s club once a month, where in a hour drive, but I get a gas there when I go there.

    I’m a mail carrier, so when Discover card promotes 5% cash back, I will get so much cash back quick and it’s really worth it.

  • Jessica says:

    Don’t ride the break or put the petal to the metal. Time the lights and coast when possible, instead of slamming the breaks at the last second. Get the junk out of your car. Every 100 pounds of junk shaves a few percent off your fuel economy. Get the snow off the top of your car in the winter. Not only is it a hazard to others, but it’s heavy and reduces the aerodynamics of your vehicle. Check your tire pressure. Keep tires inflated properly.

  • Kelly says:

    Costco is always 20 – 30 cents cheaper in our area. We always fill up at Costco and use the Costco American Express card that gives you an extra 3% cash back once a year on fuel purchases. The gas savings alone pays for our member ship each year. My husband and I both drive quite a distance for our jobs, so trying to conserve on gas just isn’t an option in our house, we have to have it to get to work!

  • Katie L says:

    We went to a single car in 2010 and it’s been great! We pocketed money from the sale of the car, plus we’ve saved on gas, maintenance, and insurance.

    This works for us because I’m home with the kids and we homeschool, and we’ve chosen to live within five miles of DH’s work. I plan to have the car Tuesday & Friday, and I try to plan all our shopping errands and Drs appointments then. Husband bikes (and sometimes runs!) to and from work most days. If there’s a conflict such as bad weather on a day that I need the car, we drive him to work and pick him up as part of our other errands.

    The extra money we spend on bike maintenance is less than we’d spend on oil changes alone. We fill up our minivan 2-3 times per month, and we spend between $100-$150 a month on fuel.

  • Ashley P says:

    Using cash has another benefit…many gas stations give you a discount for using cash instead of credit. Most of the stations in our area shave 20-30 cents/gallon off for cash customers. 🙂

  • This is one of our most painful budget areas. We live in the boonies, so my husband commutes an hour to work, so our gas budget is $500 per month. (The only way this is economical for us is that we are living in his parent’s basement for free while we pay off our student loans, so we have a high gas bill, but no rent or mortgage.)

    Since he can’t do much about his gas use, I’m the one who can make a difference in our gas spending. We go into town (45 min away) very rarely and when we do, it’s for the entire day. All doctor’s appointments, library visits, grocery shopping, etc is neatly planned into those trips. We grocery shop once a month. On Sunday for church, all five of us pile into my husband’s car because it gets 30 mpg instead of 20 mpg like the minivan. Moving the car seats back and forth isn’t my favorite, but it saves us over $100/year.

  • Emily says:

    The grocery rewards program has been very helpful – especially when they have extra points for certain purchase amounts. I’ve saved as much as 60 cents per gallon.

    One thing I don’t see on here is keep your tires inflated to the right pressure. That really does make a big difference in gas milage – and Mythbusters even proved that!

  • Kim says:

    I recently put a Shopkick app on my Android. Shopkick gives you kicks (points) for walking in stores &/or scanning items. I often get 45 kicks to just walk in Target! I just ordered my 2nd $10 gas card with the kicks I’ve earned. Swagbucks has Sunoco & ExxonMobil gift cards too.

  • Kim says:

    When the weather is nice, another way to save gas is to WALK. I’ve found that it’s a good way to also get in some exercise!

    As long as where you need to go isn’t too far away (we live less than a mile from the grocery store), it’s a good chance to load the kids into the stroller and get your errands done. Plus the kids love being outside.

  • Andrea says:

    We save hundreds a year by staying home. Our gas *and* maintenance costs are lower!

  • We buy most of our gas at Wal-Mart with a Wal-Mart gift card which saves a couple cents a gallon. We also try to drive slowly, go into neutral when going down hills, and combining errands. It’s also good to keep your car as light and aerodynamic as possible, like taking roof racks off.

  • Christine says:

    Just started biking with my kids back and forth to school. The kids love it! They report feeling more awake when they get to school. It puts us all in a good mood, gives us some exercise and allows us to spend more time together.

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