First the bad news: That pinch you feel every time you fill up? It isn’t likely to get better any time soon.
According to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service’ Daily Fuel Gauge Report the national average price of a gallon of gas rose to nearly $3.50 a gallon this week. In California, Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, prices long ago topped that. To make matters worse some experts think they’ll reach $3.75 or $4 before long. “People are having to save and budget for gas more than ever, that’s for sure,” says Jason Toews, co-founder of Gas Buddy, a consumer advocate Web site based in Minnesota.
There is some good news though. According to Toews and others, you can save as much as 40% on gas without resorting to rationing. Just follow, MainStreet’s Ten Tips To Beat High Gas Prices (and to get the most out of what you put in the tank):
1. Research and Shop Ahead
The variation between what gas stations charge can be pretty stark, so find the gas station near you with the best prices and shop there first. In Los Angeles, for example, the per-gallon price can vary as much as 75 cents. Sites like Gas Buddy, and Gas Price Watch will help you locate the best deal in your town.
Bear in mind that as a rule, service stations, repair shops and car washes will charge you more because their profits come largely from other services so they don’t need to be as competitive at the pump. Also, some wholesale clubs will sell gas at cost or even at a loss as an incentive to get you into their store where they can sell you higher-ticket items.
2. Slow Down
Each five mph over 60 is like paying an additional 10 cents per gallon. Using cruise control to maintain your speed can go a long way, especially on long highway drives. Driving more carefully also helps: Avoid sudden stops and starts as erratic acceleration and braking can waste up to 50 cents a gallon.