Barely Saving At The Pump
Something occurred to me recently. I was thinking of the amount of money I spend on groceries and how I save money on gas every month for spending 100 dollars or more. Well...
I sat down and really thought about how I could probably save money by taking the time to see what coupons are available for the week, especially since I spend so much in groceries. I then thought about how I probably wouldn't save much money because much of what I buy there probably aren't coupons for.
I figured that I'll save about 10 dollars per month if I'm lucky, plus spending less could make it more difficult for me to save at the pump. I asked myself the question, how much am I actually saving at the pump anyhow? I save 3 cents per gallon just for having a shopper's card and that amount goes up to 10 cents per gallon for every 100 dollars spent on groceries. So technically, I'm saving 7 cents for every 100 dollars spent. With a typical grocery expense for this store being just over 100 dollars per month, I usually get the 10 cents off once a month and use it when my fuel is at the lowest I'll allow it.
I would always get excited about the savings when fueling up, especially since with driving an SUV, going to the pump makes me feel like I'm throwing money away. After calculating how much I actually save at the pump, which most people probably would've calculated long before, I was pretty disappointed.
Here's the deal, my tank is about 18 gallons and I typically will put 14 gallons in at the most. So let's say I go to one gas station and the price is $3.50 and I go to the grocery store gas station and it's the same price, but I've got 10 cents off. 14 gallons of gas would cost me $49 at one pump and $47.60 with my savings. The reality is I save $1.40 compared to if I didn't have any discount, but since my regular discount would save me 3 cents, I actually save 98 cents a month for spending $100 in groceries.
I saw the amount and thought, If I took time to get a coupon every once in a while and saved $2 a week, I'd do far better than the pocket change I save at the pump.
Smarter Ways to Save
1. Not letting fuel go below half a tank. Saving 98 cents on gas actually cost more dollars because of the vehicle burning fuel less efficiently by of having less in the tank, plus there's far less hassle when you keep the tank full.
2. Accelerating less. I used to have a habit of slamming on the gas when the light turned green, not realizing it was killing my fuel economy, so now I gradually get my vehicle up to speed.
3. Using cruise control. The upside to cruise control is it keeps me at a steady speed and not constantly cycling between brakes and the gas pedal. The downside is it's useless in a lot of traffic and can make you pay less attention to changes in speed limit signs.
4. Fueling up when it's cool out. The early morning and late evening are usually the best times to fuel up because when it's hot out gas tends to evaporate more causing you to waste money at the pump. Much of that goes back to not letting the gas get too low. By keeping gas in the car, you have more control over when you fill up.
5. Keeping up with maintenance. Little things like, keeping the tires inflated properly, keeping the oil changed, and changing plugs go a long way in terms of fuel economy, I also like to put a fuel cleaner in every once in awhile.
So in the end, I care less now about saving that 98 cents every month and more about other ways to save. I save more just by doing little things like taking the 2 minutes it takes to find in store coupons.
I hope that others may learn from how saving a little every month was costing me a lot.
Apps to Save
- Apps can help you save at the pump - AutoWeek
- Paying the Dealer to Save at the Pump - NYTimes.com
The Ford Focus with the SFE option makes the car more fuel efficient, but also more expensive. It would take an owner years to recoup the extra cost.
- GasBuddy.com - Find Low Gas Prices in the USA and Canada
GasBuddy lets you search for Gas Prices by city, state, zip code, with listings for all cities in the USA and Canada. Updated in real-time, with national average price for gasoline, current trends, and mapping tools.