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When Gas Prices Wreck Your Budget

by Laura Hendrix - May 16, 2022

High gas prices can have a big impact on a household budget. Hopefully, gas prices will return to normal but until they do, here are some ways to help make ends meet.

  • Watch your speed. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, driving 55mph instead of 65 mph improves gas mileage by 15%.
  • Avoid aggressive driving. Eliminating “jackrabbit” starts and stops to improve gas mileage by 5%.
  • Avoid idling when possible. Turn off the engine if you have a long wait. 
  • Use cruise control when appropriate. Steady driving uses less fuel.
  • Use AC less. Use air conditioning as little as possible. However, on warm days, running the AC may be more cost effective than driving with the windows down – which can cause drag and reduce aerodynamics.
  • Maintain your car. Keep maintenance on schedule. Check and replace air filters regularly. Get regular oil changes.  Use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. Keep tires properly inflated and aligned.
  • Remove excess weight. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce fuel economy by up to two percent. 
  • Excess weight in the luggage rack on top creates wind resistance for additional reductions in fuel efficiency.
  • Shop around for the best gas prices. Compare gas stations.  Remember to use the octane level you need.  Check the owner’s manual for the recommended octane level of gasoline for your car.  Don’t buy a more expensive octane level if your car doesn’t need it.
  • Plan trips. Reduce miles by combining errands so that you make stops along a planned route.
  • Spend less time driving. Walk. Ride a bike. Use public transportation if available. Work remotely from home if possible.
  • Choose an efficient vehicle. If you own more than one vehicle, drive the one that gets the best gas mileage. If you are looking to purchase a new vehicle, consider energy efficient options like electric or hybrid.
  • Reduce other expenses to allow more income to be used to cover the cost of gas. Sometimes it is necessary to adjust a spending plan to allow for uncontrollable changes in expenses. When gas prices return to normal, you can resume your regular spending habits.


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