With gasoline prices constantly creeping upward, you're probably feeling the pain at the pump. As your children get older, your parental taxi service will get busier. Whether you're taking a summer road trip with the family or just want to save money driving kids to soccer practice, these helpful tips will stretch your gas budget.
Find the cheapest gas station. There is a free mobile app that will tell you which gas station is the cheapest in your zip code or near your workplace. Have your kids help you research by turning it into a treasure hunt.
Team up with your local grocery store to save money on gas. When you use their loyalty points at your grocery store, you can reduce the cost per gallon at their partner gas station. Most reward programs offer 10 cents off for every $100 you spend at their grocery store. Just ask your local grocery store if they offer that program.
Gas up at a station farther away from a freeway. Off-ramps to highway gas stations and city center locations often charge quite a bit more than neighborhood or rural gas stations.
Buy gas station gift cards. You can purchase these at a price less than the face value. Plastic Jungle is a web site that offers gift cards for gas stations, as well as for tons of other retailers. You can sign up for free email alerts to let you know when they have the cards you want in stock. If family members ask you what you want for your birthday or other special ocassion, tell them you want gas gift cards.
Watch your windows. Air conditioning in the hot summer months can drain your gas tank, so consider opening the windows to cool off the natural way. Driving with open windows on the freeway, however, will add drag to your car and reduce your gas mileage up to 10%. Task your kids with checking the windows every time you drive somewhere.
Carpool when possible. Busy moms are always looking for help with all of their taxi tasks to soccer practice and ballet rehearsal. Talking to the other parents can create new friendships too.
Make purchases online. When you shop online, you don't have to spend money driving to the store. Many online stores offer free shipping. If you do have to drive, plan your errands geographically, so you’re not going back and forth all over town.
Consider selling that gas-guzzling SUV. Yes, that large vehicle makes it easier to transport large groups, but it can get expensive. You may consider getting something smaller and more gas-efficient, if possible. Federal deductions for buying a hybrid car can be as high as $2000. How about driving a motorcycle or scooter instead of a car?
Use Regular unleaded gas. Unless your car specifically requires premium gas, regular unleaded gas is less expensive and can still get you from A to B.
Fly. With the high cost of gas now, sometimes it's actually cheaper to fly to your destination.
Drive slower. Did you know that your gas mileage actually decreases when you drive 55 mph or faster? Fast starts and stops during city driving will also spend more gas than if you take it easy. Drive slower and you'll also be setting a good example for your teenage drivers who often check to see if you're speeding.
Remove junk from the trunk. Beyond carrying an emergency preparedness kit for your family in your trunk (which I think is absolutely important), store all of those other unnecessary items in your garage rather than your car. Every 250 pounds of junk in your trunk lowers your car's fuel efficiency by 1 mile per gallon.
Inflate your tires and keep your car tuned up. Something as simple as keeping your tires properly inflated at all times will actually improve your gas mileage. Also, maintain your car properly by replacing the air filter, motor oil and spark plugs to achieve better mileage too. It's a good idea to teach your children how to do basic auto care.
Use lights sparingly. Most of us don’t drive with the lights on inside the car because it makes seeing the road a bit more difficult, but it also increases the energy load on the engine. Don’t turn on your headlights either, except during the evening hours or in the rain.
The word “Hypermiling” was selected as the best new word of 2008 by New Oxford American Dictionary. It’s a term used to describe the crazy techniques people use to maximize their fuel economy, such as the illegal (and dangerous) practice of tailgating behind a big truck to benefit from its drag on a freeway.
Another bad idea hypermilers like is to roll through stop signs, rather than stop all the way. Some even suggest that the word STOP is really an acronym which means “Slight Tap On Pedal.” While they may save a few pennies of gas per mile, they’re also more likely to be pulled over for breaking the law or for reckless driving.
Be safe on the roads, don't text or drink and drive, and save money.
Trina Boice is an author of 16 books, mother of four awesome sons, twin, surfer wannabe, online instructor for BYU-I, Ham radio geek, and money-saving expert. www.TrinaBoice.com.
Read her fun movie reviews at www.MovieReviewMaven.blogspot.com