One of the most common financial complaints that I hear is that the price of gasoline is too high. I agree that it's tough to see higher fill-up costs at the pump, but I sometimes wonder if some consumers doth protest way too much? Most people have bigger expenses than gasoline to worry about and gas costs are one of easiest expenses to reduce.
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Gas prices are visible and frequent
If you own a car and use it regularly, then you will probably be familiar with market gas prices since you probably buy gas at least once or twice a month (or a lot more frequently). Because gas is a commodity and is sold in standard unit prices, it's very easy to compare the price with other gas stations and with the price you paid last week. For most other consumer goods, the unit costs are not as quite as transparent
How much of your budget goes towards gasoline costs?
This will vary widely for different people but in my case we spend about 2% of our net pay on gasoline. This is probably on the low side since we don't use our car everyday. Groceries, on the other hand, take up about 16% of our budget. Keep in mind that our grocery budget includes a lot of common household items such as diapers, kitty litter etc.
My point is that if I want to cut back on our expenses or even just complain about them, I should focus on what's important. Our gasoline bill could double and it wouldn't make a big impact to our budget. If our grocery bill doubled then we would be hurting. I suspect the average consumer has many other expenses which are much bigger than gasoline costs.
How to lower your gas costs
Here are a few ideas on how to lower your gas costs. There are many other lists on the internet which are a lot more comprehensive but I've tried to stick with a few solid ideas that if applicable, will make a significant difference.
Drive less – If you can reduce your driving then you will reduce your gas consumption by a proportional amount. This can accomplished by planning your trips better – if you drive to the grocery store seven times a week then do some planning and cut the trips down to twice a week. If you can carpool or take transit to work instead of driving then you will save money.
Drive slower – the faster and more aggressively you drive, the more gas you burn. No more racing!
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em
Consider investing in oil related companies. The stock prices won't be perfectly correlated to your gasoline costs but over the long run if the price of oil keeps rising then your stocks (I would look into buying an exchange traded fund) should perform well.
Other posts on gasoline prices and driving tips
Frugal Dad says gas prices are still relatively cheap.
My Two Dollars says to stop complaining about gas prices.
Debt Free Revolution delivers pizza so she knows all about gasoline saving driving tips. Check out the funny photo on this post!
Cash Money Life explains hypermiling which is extreme gas savings.
Being Frugal says she doesn't drive as much to save gas.
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