4 Painless Ways to Save Money on Gas

Well, it looks like inflation will stay high for a while longer. The U.S. inflation rate hit another new high this year – 8.6%. Many economists expected inflation to go down, but they were wrong. As a consumer, this isn’t surprising at all. Food, gas, housing, utilities, hotel rooms, and flight tickets are all noticeably more expensive than last year. We’re going on a summer vacation soon and I spent a ton of money to book everything. It was painful. I don’t like spending money, but we need to go see families and friends. It has been too long.

This is why the economists got it wrong. Consumers say they hate inflation and they plan to be more frugal. However, we are all spending our savings like there is no tomorrow. Can you blame us? The last two and a half years were rough. The world is finally opening up and we gotta go. Unfortunately, the more consumers spend, the longer inflation will keep increasing.

Ugh!

Anyway, we are heading off on a road trip very soon. The flight tickets were more than twice what I used to pay so I decided to drive instead. A road trip is better anyway. We can stop and see more people. The price of gasoline is high, but driving will still be much cheaper than flying and renting a car. (Have you tried to rent a car? Yikes!) And we’ll have a bit more control. We can drive conservatively and save some money on gas. Here are 4 ways to help get everyone through this oil spike. The national average gas price is over $5…

*Okay, I fibbed a bit. These are not painless. That’s just an eye-catching title to get you here. But once you get used to them, they are pretty easy to do. Read on!

Drive Less

The best thing you can do to save on gas is to drive less. It is that simple. We don’t drive much and usually only fill up once a month. That is very unusual in the United States. We designed our life to be less car-centric than most families. Here are some of the things we do.

  • Live in a walkable neighborhood. We spend a lot more time walking than being in a car.
  • Take public transportation. Mrs. RB40 takes a bus to and from her office.
  • Group errands together. When I have to drive to do errands, I try to group them. For example, I went to get an oil change and took the opportunity to buy some Asian groceries.
  • Try carpooling. If you can stand to spend more time with your officemate, this might be a good option.
  • Bike more. We can all use more exercise, right?   
  • Join the micromobility movement. I charged Lime scooters for a few years. It’s a fun way to get around. You can also rent electric bikes or get some other cool micromobility devices like One Wheel.

I realize that driving less can be very difficult for most Americans. However, I bet you can cut back on driving if you put your mind to it.

Drive Efficiently

Now that gasoline is very expensive, it’s time to examine our driving habits and drive more efficiently. Here are some ways to get more miles from a tank of gas.

  • Drive slower. The faster you drive, the more gas you will use. This was why the National Maximum Speed Limit was set to 55 mph in 1974.
  • Avoid idling. If you’re just waiting, turn the car off instead of idling. Some new cars do this automatically. When we visited Iceland, the rental van had this auto stop/start technology. It turned off the engine automatically when I stopped and put the car in neutral. Then it turned back on when I put it in gear. That was really cool. Every car should have this feature.
  • Scan ahead. There are many situations where you can take your foot off the gas. If a light turns red, just cruise to a stop instead of accelerating into it. If the cars ahead are slowing down, then take your foot off the gas and hover above the brake. It’s safer too.
  • Accelerate smoothly. In most situations, you don’t need to stomp on the gas pedal. That uses a lot of gas. Accelerating up to speed smoothly and you’ll save at the pump.
  • Minimize drag. We have a cargo hauler. It’s very useful when we go camping, but it really screws up the aerodynamics of our car. Take the box and the bars off when you don’t need them.
  • Use Cruise Control. Cruise control helps you maintain a constant speed on the highway and it will save gas. Our cruise control really sucks on hills, though. It accelerates like crazy. I drive manually whenever the road isn’t straight and flat.

Maintain Your Vehicle

A car uses more gas when it isn’t maintained regularly. Here are a few things you can do.

  • Inflate your tires properly. The U.S. Department of Energy says that you lower your gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 PSI drop. Check the sticker on your driver-side door jam to see the proper PSI.
  • Oil change. Take your car in for an oil change on schedule. Old oil will reduce your gas mileage.
  • Tune-up. Maintain your car as scheduled in the manual. A bad oxygen sensor, clogged injector, and many other things will cause your car to use more gas.

Be Smart

Lastly, be smart about your transportation needs.

  • Avoid bigger vehicles. If you rarely need a big SUV, then just buy a smaller vehicle. SUV sales plunged the last time gas was expensive. However, they became popular again when gas got cheaper. People keep forgetting that gas is a big part of their transportation expenses.
  • Go for a Hybrid or electric vehicle. These gas-efficient vehicles are much more established than just 10 years ago. I would strongly consider a hybrid or electric the next time we need a new vehicle.
  • Buy the right grade of gasoline. I think everyone knows this, but I’ll put it here just in case. Some people like to put premium gasoline in their cars. They think premium must be better than regular, right? Wrong. Your car is tuned to use a particular octane. If the manual says to use regular, then buying premium won’t make any difference. Only some sports cars need high octane gasoline because their engines have higher compression ratios. For regular car owners, premium is just a waste of money.

Alright, that’s all I got. It’s summer and we are all looking forward to a nice drive. Enjoy!

Bonus

For the youngins and young at heart out there. Heh heh.

If you are a DIY investor, sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your investments. I log in almost daily to check my accounts and cash flow. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

Image credit – sippakorn yamkasikorn

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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15 thoughts on “4 Painless Ways to Save Money on Gas”

  1. We’re about halfway through our road trip and we’ve spent $950 on gas so far. We’re breaking a lot of your points in this list with an SUV and pulling a small cargo trailer, but it is what it is. We have brand new tires on the car and trailer and we’ve been stopping at every Costco we can along the way to save a little more money. And then we’re using Gas Buddy as well to find cheaper gas when there’s no Costco.

    Gas sure seems to get a lot more expensive the further west we’ve traveled! That could just be prices going up as we’ve continued on though as well.

    Reply
  2. Just got back from Lake Tahoe from Phoenix! Road trip! 527.00 rt for gas , California was at high as 7/8 dollars a gallon. I feel like I’m in Europe!
    But food & hotels were really high too! Shockingly high! Had to go on vacation tho!!

    Reply
  3. Removing all unnecessary accumulated stuff from the car helps.
    My brother drives around with a full trunk that he seldom goes into and course he complains about the price of gas.

    Reply
  4. we’re driving from buffalo to virginia beach this weekend for a family wedding. when all is said and done it will cost less than 200 bucks round trip which isn’t bad. the real cost is being a little tired.

    other than this we thankfully still drive very little. i think i buy a tank of gas per month and mrs. smidlap fills up every two months when we’re just around home.

    enjoy your road trip! it really is a good way to travel if you have the time.

    Reply
  5. The Washington Post did a story the other day about how the price of gasoline is causing an uptick in AAA roadside calls for empty gas tanks. They interviewed a young man who lives in Texas and regularly commutes home from college (a 60-mile trip) in his 14mpg Silverado pickup. I found it difficult to work up much sympathy.

    I guess that makes me the evil coastal elite. We fill up our 40+ mpg Golf every six or eight weeks, and 100% of those trips are discretionary — visiting family, music rehearsals and concerts, or me being too lazy to walk a mile and a quarter to the grocery store. We’re seeing the gas price hit in other ways; trucked in goods cost more, and I really feel for folks on the edge who have trouble soaking up that expense. But at the same time part of me isn’t all that torn up for this country to maybe finally understand the actual cost of its oil dependency.

    Reply
  6. Haha, that music video is hilarious! The simple fact of the matter is that most people still “race” to the next red light or drive well over the speed limit on the highway. They aren’t trying to save gas. Why? Who knows — Maybe it’s ego or “animal spirits”. Your guess is as good as mine.

    Until I see behavior start to actually change, I don’t think gas prices are high enough yet for people to truly care.

    Maybe that’s cynical of me, but I don’t see most people treating energy as precious yet.

    Reply
  7. The gas prices have been a non-existent concern for me because I drive so little. I have two cars and didn’t put any gas in either in May. I could possibly make in through the end of June and not fill either of the cars.

    Sometimes my friend in Vancouver calls me and asks me what the gas prices are in Edmonton. I usually have no idea.

    In fact, gas prices could double or triple and I would still not be concerned. But, if the price of food, utilities, restaurants, property taxes, and travel doubled or tripled I would be a lot more concerned.

    Reply

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