5 Tips for Saving on Your Fuel Costs

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low hanging papaya picked4

I bet you are wondering about this photo of a papaya tree. Isn't it beautiful? It's in a friend's yard. I'll explain why it's here in a minute.

Parents are doing everything they can to stretch their budgets these days. Heating and cooling one’s home is a big monthly expense and last week I made a few suggestion on ways to help lower those expenses.

If you’ve tried some of those ideas, please leave me a comment letting me know what worked, what didn’t, and why you think they did or didn't work. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Ok, so I talk a lot about picking low-hanging fruit, which to me means making the biggest impact with the least effort. It’s an important idea for moms, right? Because we just don’t have time to do everything. Did you see the low-hanging fruit in the photo of the papaya tree above? Look at it again below.

papaya tree

I know, right? Sometimes the low hanging fruit is hard to see, even when it's right in front of us.

So this week, I thought I would share some ideas for helping lower the costs of running the car, another one of those low-hanging fruits right in front of us. After the house, the car is often a family’s largest monthly expense.

So here are 5 tips for helping lower the cost of car ownership by picking some of the low-hanging fruit.

1. Check Your Tires

In Mexico, gas station attendants will still wash your windows and inflate your tires. I miss that! But even though it requires a little more effort in the States, it’s still low hanging fruit. Invest in an inexpensive, but reliable, air pressure gauge from your auto parts store. The gauges on the hoses at the gas station are notoriously unreliable.

Then look for the air hose at your gas station or see if you have an air compressor in the garage or at the neighbor's house. Fueleconomy.gov says, “you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires properly inflated.”

That might not sound like much but over a year it adds up. The tires will last longer, too, and it's safer.

2. Clean Out Your Car

This isn’t a typical fuel saving suggestion. But we’re moms. And I don’t have to tell you, hermana, how things can pile up in the car when you’re carrying kids around. By the way, what are you carrying around back there?

Sometimes I’m afraid to look. But if  books, tools, last season’s sport equipment, and the rest are lying around back there, maybe it’s time to have the kids remove them. If you’re carrying an extra 50, 100, even 200 lbs around all the time, that’s going to affect your fuel efficiency, and that costs money.

3. Consider Using Regular Grade Fuel Instead of Premium Fuel

Unless the manufacturer of your vehicle says you should use Premium, Regular works great for most vehicles and is a lot cheaper. As of this moment the difference between the Regular and Premium at the station near my house is 22 cents per gallon. That's a big difference. Check your owner's manual.

4. Pay Less to Fill the Tank

Which brings me to the next point. As of this writing, there’s a 22 cent spread as well between the costs of a gallon of regular gas at the different stations in my small town.

The two stations that represent the highest price and the lowest price are just 3 short miles apart. How do I know? Gas Buddy, a fantastic iPhone app that uses crowdsourcing to track the prices of gas in town.

5. Plan Trips, Drive Less

With a little bit of planning, one of the best ways to save on the cost of fueling and maintaining your vehicle is to drive less.

Try to combine errands and ask whether you need to take the car at all. It sounds like a lot of work and deprivation, but try it for just one week and see what happens. You might be surprised.

Keep saving!

Silvia Martinez
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