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$5 gallons are here — get used to it. 6 strategies to avoid getting gouged as gas prices climb

·6 min read
$5 gallons are here — get used to it. 6 strategies to avoid getting gouged as gas prices climb
$5 gallons are here — get used to it. 6 strategies to avoid getting gouged as gas prices climb

With supply chains disrupted from the pandemic and a war raging in Eastern Europe, we are facing a scenario no one ever expected. And it’s impacting energy prices.

The average price of gas in the U.S. is hovering around $5 per gallon, up from $3 per gallon a year ago. They're even higher in some states, and are expected to keep rising.

Never mind increasing interest rates and the rising cost of living; it’s higher gas prices that really have Americans worried. While abandoning your car might seem ideal in times like this, it's not always possible. The best you can do is to make some adjustments to your routine.

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1. Limit how often you use your vehicle

The obvious thing to do first would be to limit the amount you drive. If public transportation is an option, consider making the switch. Yes, it may take you more time to get to work, but the savings could be considerable.

For example, let's say you need to fill up your tank once a week, and it now costs you about $100 each time. Taking public transportation instead might cost you closer to $40 a week. That's a considerable savings, and you don't need to worry about paying for parking.

Unfortunately, taking public transportation isn't an option for everyone. If that's the case for you, there may still be ways to reduce your car usage. If possible, consider walking or biking to the mall, or any activities you would usually drive to.

Carpooling is likely a lot more appealing these days, so it might be worth asking your co-workers to see if anyone is interested.

The key thing is to try to cut down the number of trips in your vehicle.

2. Look at driving habits and car maintenance

You can make your gas last longer by changing some of your driving habits.

For example, accelerating from a stop at a more gradual speed does increase fuel efficiency. You could also let your car coast or ease up on the gas pedal if you see that a light is turning red. Break earlier and avoid accelerating for no reason.

You could try and switch to your cruise control more often on highways, and keep to the right lane where traffic tends to be slower.

Some basic car maintenance could also help. Ensuring your filters are clean, removing any unnecessary cargo, and checking your tire pressure regularly can help increase your vehicle's performance.

Even removing any flags you have on your car in support of your favorite sports team can help, as it'll reduce the drag on your car.

3. Use an app to find cheaper gas

One of the most popular apps for saving on gas is GasBuddy. Once you open it, you can quickly scan a map to see how much gas costs at nearby stations.

You can also search by ZIP code or city if you know you'll be traveling or taking a road trip shortly. These prices are generated by users who report them in real time.

4. Use your loyalty points

The major gas chains have loyalty programs where you can earn rewards every time you fill up. The points you earn can later be used to get discounts on gas and merchandise.

Don't forget that any points you've earned through your bank's travel rewards program could also be redeemed for gas. You could potentially redeem your points for a gas gift card or claim your gas purchases as a statement credit.

In most cases, using your points for gift cards or a statement credit is not as valuable as using your points for travel. That said, if you need some relief at the pumps immediately, it might be worth cashing in those points.

5. Use your credit cards

Many credit cards offer an increased earn rate when making gas purchases. With gas prices so high these days, you could get a fair amount back.

While earning cash back on gas is appealing, you need to read the fine print.

Some of these cash back cards pay out once a month, while others may pay out annually. Plus, you need to consider the annual fee that may come with the card.

6. Switch to an electric vehicle

Granted, switching to an electric vehicle is easier said than done. Many cars have a 12 to 24 month wait time, and though they cost more than combustion vehicles, the savings on gas could still be worth it in the long run.

For example, the Chevrolet Bolt EV has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of around $31,500. and a full charge gives you a range of about 248 miles. To fully charge the battery, it’ll cost about $5 in electricity. That’s significantly less than fueling up at the pumps.

Additionally, there are a lot of incentives available to make the switch to an eclectic vehicle. The federal government offers a $7,500 tax credit. But be aware that it's only worth $7,500 to someone whose tax bill at the end of the year is $7,500 or more. Let's say you buy an eligible vehicle and you owe $4,000 in income tax for a particular year. That's all the tax credit will be and you don’t get a refund for the other $3,500. Many states also provide additional incentives if you purchase an electric vehicle.

What to read next

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  • Ready to escape the dismal stock market? Unfortunately, “cash is not a safe investment,” says Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates. “It’s not a safe place because it will be taxed by inflation.” With the consumer price index hitting a 40-year high of 8.6% in May, you’ll need to get creative to find strong returns. Here are five alternative investments to chart a new course.

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.