March 18, 2022
Extension Tips: Don’t let gas prices wreck your budget
By Tracy Courage
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Arkansans paying record-high gas prices
- Personal finance expert offers money-saving tips
- Several Arkansas counties seeing prices at the pump above $4
LITTLE ROCK — With gas prices hitting new all-time highs in March, Arkansans are feeling the pinch at the pumps.
The average cost of a gallon of regular gas nationally was $4.27 on March 18, up from $2.88 a year prior, according to the American Automobile Association. Earlier this month, regular gas prices reached a recent high of $4.33 per gallon on March 11, with diesel prices hitting a high on March 12 at $5.13 per gallon.
As of March 18, Arkansans were paying an average of $3.84 for a gallon of regular gas, up from $2.69 a year ago. Average gas prices in southern Arkansas were higher than in other parts of the state with prices in Montgomery, Howard, Miller, Nevada, and Desha counties all averaging above $4 per gallon.
Geopolitical tensions and supply and demand are among the factors affecting the spike in gas prices nationwide, which are the highest they’ve been since 2008, according to AAA.
“Paying more at the pump can have a big impact on a household budget,” Laura Hendrix, associate professor of personal finance and family resource management for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said. “Hopefully, gas prices will return to normal, but until they do, there are several ways people can curb costs.”
Hendrix, an accredited financial counselor, offered these money-saving tips:
Carpool. Walk or ride a bike. Use public transportation if it is available. Work remotely from home if possible. “Plan your trips,” Hendrix said. “You can reduce miles by combining errands so that you make stops along a planned route.”
When it comes to fuel efficiency, slow and steady wins the race. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph improves gas mileage by as much as 15 percent. Drivers can also improve gas mileage by not driving aggressively. Jackrabbit starts lessen fuel efficiency by as much as 5 percent. Steady driving uses less fuel, so use cruise control when appropriate.
Maintain your car
To get the best mileage, stick to a maintenance schedule. Check and replace air filters regularly. Get regular oil changes. Use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil, and keep tires properly inflated and aligned.
Remove excess weight in your vehicle to improve fuel efficiency. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce fuel economy by as much as 2 percent. Excess weight in the luggage rack on top creates wind resistance and lessens fuel efficiency.
Use less air conditioning
Use air conditioning as little as possible. However, for some vehicles, running the air conditioner may be more cost-effective than driving with the windows down, which can cause drag and reduce aerodynamics.
Avoid idling when possible
Turn off the engine if you have a long wait.
Compare gas prices at stations near your home and work. Check the owner’s manual for the recommended octane level of gasoline for your car. Don’t pay more for the expensive, high-octane gas if your car doesn’t need it.
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
Look for other expenses in your budget that you can cut or scale back to have extra money for gas. “Sometimes it is necessary to adjust a spending plan to allow for uncontrollable changes in expenses,” Hendrix said. “When gas prices return to normal, you can resume your regular spending habits.”
For more resources on living resourcefully, visit www.uaex.uada.edu/money. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
Cooperative Extension Service