If you’re a typical American, you drive roughly 12,500 miles per year. If your car gets 25 miles per gallon, that means you buy about 500 gallons of gas during the year. When gas was selling for $2.80 per gallon, you spent $1,400 on fuel for the twelve-month period. At $3.80 per gallon, you’ll spend $1,900 for the same amount of gas, an additional $500 over the course of the year, or an extra $42 per month. Even though we cringe at rising prices, the cost of gas in the U.S.is relatively low compared to the rest of the world. For example, the average cost for a gallon of gas throughout Europeis $9.85. That’s an average. In Norway, you could pay almost $11.54 for a gallon of regular – ouch! If nothing changes, higher gasoline prices may also become a permanent fixture of American life, so it’s a good idea to prepare for those days before they arrive.
How high will gas prices go? Some experts say Americans could soon pay almost five dollars a gallon; however, that all depends on where you live. Residents of some states, such as California and New York, would probably pay more for gasoline because of the taxes they add to every gallon pumped. Citizens in other states, such asTexasandColorado, would pay less. For most people, the best way to reduce the cost of operating your car is to change the way you drive. What kind of savings can you expect? That depends on your current driving style and the kind of car you drive, but, by using the reasonable recommendations that follow, and others available on our website, you might be able to improve your fuel economy by as much as 35%. Even if your results fall a bit short of that mark, this advice can help the average driver save dollars, not cents, and you can actually adopt most of these changes without too much difficulty.
There are many traditional approaches to saving on gas, many of which are available in our free guide, Driving As If Your Budget Depends On It!, which can be accessed on our website. For now, let’s focus on some new approaches. I’m a child of technology, and with the evolution of smartphones and tablets, I’ve become even more excited about the way you can use these devices to save money. One thing that helps me save on gas is planning my trips via websites like GoogleMaps and MapQuest. These sites allow you to choose from a variety of trip options, such as routes that avoid traffic or follow the shortest route. On my errand day, I enter my departure point and destinations, select the shortest route option, and the site plans my trip. I send the info to my phone, and I’m on my way.
I also try to use a strategy I learned from the shipping giant UPS – avoiding left turns. Sounds strange, but after years of research, UPS discovered that when its trucks made mostly right turns, their fleet recorded better gas mileage. The biggest difference with only making right turns is that you’re not waiting for traffic from both ways coming against you. Instead of wasting gas sitting in traffic, avoiding left turns keeps trucks moving and drivers have found they make deliveries faster. It’s also good news for UPS’s bottom line. By turning right, the company says it saves over 3.3 million gallons of gasoline.
There are also a lot of apps you can download that will help you save on gas prices. AAA, a name synonymous with driving, has developed a fantastic free App called AAA TripTik Mobile. It provides the latest gas prices, maps, directions, and much more. One of the best options of TripTik is the ability to find the cheapest gas on the go. In one click, you can see the current gas prices at the gas stations near you. Another App to consider is GasHog, which tracks the fuel consumption of your vehicle and offers tips for improving your fuel economy. GasHog does not require Internet connectivity for any of its features, and it operates in areas with no mobile or WiFi coverage.
For other gas savings tips, please visit www.cambridge-credit.org/driving to download Driving As If Your Budget Depends On It! This free guide offers tips and strategies you can use to ease the pressure of rising gas costs. Until next time, I’m Thomas Fox for Cambridge Credit Counseling.