If you've been to the gas station lately, you've probably noticed that gas prices are creeping up. Unfortunately, this means that every time you drive, the cost of whatever you're doing - whether it's ferrying your kids around, running errands or just commuting to work - becomes more expensive, too.
While no one person can influence the price at the pump, there are a few things you can do to cut your costs. Here are seven realistic ways to protect your pocketbook from rising gas prices.
1. Organize a Car Pool
People like to work close to where they live when they can, so chances are good that you have at least some coworkers who live near you. Rather than having to struggle with the cost of gas alone, make an effort to organize a car pool and help spread that cost around. Work with your human resources department if you can, and consider passing around a sign-up list with everyone's addresses. Then, take everyone who is interested and plot them on a Google map. This strategy will help you and your coworkers determine an effective carpooling strategy.
2. Join a Van Pool
Companies like VPSI offer van pooling services for professionals. These services guarantee that you'll arrive at work on time; plus, you'll get a few extra minutes to read and prepare for your day on the way.
3. Get Moving
If you live close enough to where you work to make it on foot, by bike or on roller blades, try doing this a couple of times a week, weather permitting. Instead of sitting in traffic, give your body some much-deserved exercise - and stretch that precious tank of gas just a little bit farther.
4. Leverage Reward Programs
If you're enrolled in a credit card rewards program, you should check to see whether you can cash out in gasoline gift cards. Instead of ordering that appliance or gadget that you'll never use, spend your rewards points on something that you use every day - gas. If you're not enrolled in a rewards program, double check whether one would be cost-effective for you.
5. Fix Your Car
When your car goes in for an oil change or repairs, listen for any advice the mechanic gives about basic maintenance. Ensuring that your car is well maintained and running at its best can affect fuel efficiency. This is especially important if you're driving an older car.
6. Get Smart
Rather than stopping at the first gas station you see, take a proactive approach to finding the best prices. AAA TripTik and Gas Buddy are great applications to help you start your search. If you have an iPhone, check out Gas Cubby.
7. Plan Ahead
Use a service like Google Maps to plan your trips to ensure you're taking the shortest route to your destination. If you're currently in the market for a new GPS device, make sure to buy one with live traffic data. The worst way to waste gas is by sitting in traffic.
The Bottom Line
Driving is a means to an end, and that end should not require you to waste money. Instead of giving in to rising gas prices, find a way around them. Keep track of how much you're spending on gas so that you can keep unnecessary expenses under control.