5 Ways to Save $1,000 at the Gas Pump Each Year
by Christian Hudspeth
If you're a typical driver, you may be paying $1,000 more than you need to on gas each year.
And if you're like me, you'd prefer to spend that money on something more worthwhile! After all, $1,000 could be enough money to take your family out to dinner once every month. Or enough to pay off a sizable portion of your auto loan. Or, if you were to invest that $1,000 each year in stocks that generated an 8% annual return, your savings would grow to $49,083 after 20 years, or a whopping $124,192 in 30 years' time.
Good news: any of these things could become a reality. With just a little patience, planning, and access to a computer or smartphone, I'm confident that almost anyone can follow the tips I'm about to share to save hundreds or even $1,000 or more on gas expenses with their existing car.
So put your cotsly Tesla-buying plans on hold. Here are five no-brainer tips to saving up to $1,000 or more at the gas pump each year.
Editor's Note: All savings estimates are based on a national average of around $2.50 per gallon of gasoline, average driving of 15,000 miles per year and an average 25 MPG fuel economy.
Sometimes it's hard to swallow your pride and ride in the back seat. And sometimes it's even harder to spend even more time with your co-workers. But you have to think of carpooling like this: If your car gets 25 miles per gallon with one person, then it effectively gets 50 miles per gallon if two people are riding in the same car.
If you're always the one doing the driving, it should be no problem to split the cost of gas with your co-riders. Alternately, each person in the carpool should take a turn driving, so that fuel costs even out among the group.
Carpooling comes with another added benefit: Riding with others also lets you take advantage of your city highways' HOV lanes, allowing you to fly past traffic with less stops and starts -- saving time, fuel and money.
Gas Savings: $175 per year (14-mile round trips into town, five times a week)
2. Suppress the Road Rage
The car resource experts at Edmunds.com ran a full battery of driving tests to see how well driving calmly would improve fuel efficiency over aggressive driving... and the results were phenomenal.
When comparing aggressive drivers (75-80 MPH speeds, sharp accelerations, fast braking) to calm drivers (using cruise control at a speed of 65 MPH or lower, slow accelerations and coasting rather than braking), the group saw fuel economy improve from 24.5 MPG to 32.5 MPG. That's a fuel economy boost of 35%!
So don't speed, don't tailgate and don't gun it off the starting line and you'll thank yourself when you have all that extra money left in your bank account.
Gas Savings: Up to $450 per year, depending on how aggressively you currently drive.
3. Use Traffic-Fighting Sites and Gas Apps
It's happened to us all. You drive your usual route to work and low and behold, you're stuck in a worse-than-usual traffic jam. Sitting in traffic will get you 0 MPG and is a waste of time.
Before you heard out for the day, check Google Maps or Waze to see live traffic conditions in metro areas and find the least-congested (and thereby most fuel-efficient) route to take.
When it's time to fill up, check the Gasbuddy.com app to find the lowest priced gas stations that are conveniently along your route.
Gas Savings: Up to 375 per year, depending on how much traffic you face daily (city-like driving estimates: 20 MPG).
4. Plan and Combine Errands
You drive to the grocery store to pick up eggs for breakfast. Then you head back out to drop by the bank an hour later. Then you realize that you need to go to the post office. Sound familiar?
Not planning your route can cause a whole lot of back and forth driving, which wastes gas and keeps your engine from reaching peak efficiency. Instead, reach for a pen and paper (or use your smartphone) in the morning, write down all the errands you're planning for the day, and get them done all while your car is warmed up to maximize your MPG and minimize unnecessary extra trips.
Gas Savings: $210 per year (By avoiding three extra 14 mile round-trips to town per week)
5. Shop Online orAhead
Have you ever driven all the way to the store just to pick up one or two things only to find that those 150-pound wall hangers you were looking for were sold out? Stop doing that! If you're not sure if a store carries a product that you want, give them an old fashioned and gas-free phone call. They'll be happy to tell you if it's in stock and you know you won't be wasting a trip.
Or you could just avoid making any trips at all by shopping online. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 45% of all car trips are for shopping and errands -- meaning almost half of your gas money goes to something you could avoid altogether.
And with most of your favorite stores offering the same product online with free shipping on orders of $25 to $50, it won't be long before you're clicking your way to hundreds in gas savings.
Gas Savings: $120 or more (assuming 8 mile round trips to the store, three times a week) depending on how often you go shopping and how far you live from the store.
If you can learn how to effectively plan errands, ride with others, resist speeding and use technology to your advantage, you could pocket an extra $1,000 a year (or more) following these tips!