Remember the good ol’ days when getting gasoline for your car cost you under $1 a gallon? Nope—not a lot of people do. Some of us weren’t even born or driving a car yet (hi there, 1988).1 But those sure sound like nice times. We’re definitely not in the glory days anymore.
In March 2022, the average price for a regular gallon surged to an all-time high of $4.17, leaving the old record from 2008 in the dust.2 With that spike, prices jumped 11 cents overnight and 55 cents since the week before!3 That’s just flat-out nuts. The average gas price then peaked around $4.33 before starting to come back down again.4 But fast-forward a couple months and gas prices started inching back up again, setting a new record of $4.43 on May 13, 2022. Sheesh.5
If you’re like most of us, you’re feeling the pain at the pump and scratching your head wondering how the heck to save money on gas. Well, pull up a chair, because these 12 tips will show you how to save money on gas—without having to trade in your SUV for a horse and buggy.
How to Save Money on Gas
1. Shop around for the best gas prices.
Sure, sometimes you’re riding on empty and you’ve got to get gas as quick as possible. But if you plan ahead, you can really figure out some slick ways to save money on gas. One way is to use an app like GasBuddy or Waze that searches your local area to find the cheapest gas prices around. Or you can pay attention on your way to and from work or the kids’ school to see which places offer the best prices.
2. Combine your errands.
Don’t make a special trip to get milk when you can just pick it up on the way home from work. You can cut back on trips to the grocery store in general by meal planning and keeping a list of all the household essentials you need. The fewer trips out, the less you pay in gas.
3. Take advantage of cash-back apps.
Apps can make your life a little easier—especially when they give you cash for things you already do. Check out cash-back apps like GetUpside that will reward you with cash every time you fill up.
4. Use that cruise control.
Stumped on how to save money on gas while driving on the open road? If you’re spending lots of time on the interstate, here’s a simple tip: Turn on your cruise control and save on gasoline and leg cramps.
5. Keep your tires inflated.
There’s a savings myth out there that overinflating your tires can save you money on gas. The reality is, this is a bit of a Goldilocks situation. Overinflating doesn’t help anything, and underinflating can actually hurt your gas mileage. But nailing the recommended tire pressure for your car is like that perfect bowl of porridge—just right. And those just-right savings will add up over time.
6. Ditch the extra weight.
Take everything off your roof rack and unpack the trunk or cargo space. Turns out, the more your car is weighed down, the harder your engine has to work to lug all your junk around. And a harder-working engine is a gas-guzzling engine. So, clean out your car, and enjoy less clutter and fewer trips to the gas station. Who knew figuring out how to save on gas was as simple as getting all the junk out of your car?
7. Join gas rewards programs.
Hear us loud and clear: We’re not talking about credit card “reward” points here. (Ew.) We mean that your grocery store might offer gas rewards—discounts on gasoline for buying stuff you have to buy anyway. You might have to sign up for a rewards card, but these are usually 100% free and 100% worth it. Cheaper gas from the place you already go to stock up on snacks? Yes, please.
8. Join a warehouse membership.
Here’s how to save money on gas with the cash you’re already spending at those bulk-buy stores (you know the ones). Some warehouse stores offer lower gas prices to members. Now, that membership will cost you something, but if you’re already a member, you might as well take advantage of that extra savings. And if you’re not a member, before you commit to anything, be sure the annual fee is worth it to save money on gas and other things (like all that bulk cereal shopping).
9. Stop buying premium.
Unless you have a fancy car with a manual that says it needs premium gas, the regular unleaded gas option works just fine. Switching to regular gas is probably the easiest way to save money on gas. You could save 20 to 60 cents per gallon just by making that quick switch, and most drivers don’t even notice the difference. Just be sure you double-check that premium gas isn’t a deal breaker for your car—or else things could get ugly.
10. Pay with cash.
Cash is king—even at the pump! Some gas stations charge a lower price per gallon if you pay with cash. It’s their way of skipping the processing fees. Sure, you’ll have to actually walk some extra steps to pay the cashier, but it’s worth it if you can save a few bucks every time you fill up.
11. Fill up earlier in the week (and never on weekends).
Monday is typically the cheapest day of the week to fill up your tank.6 If you can’t make it on Monday, try for Tuesday or Wednesday. And whatever you do, avoid the gas station on Friday, Saturday and Sunday if you want to save money on gas.
12. Turn your car off while waiting.
Here’s a simple way to save money on gas—turn the car off when you’re not actually driving it. Think about it. You’re sitting in your car for 5, 10, maybe even 15 minutes waiting on someone else to get in—and probably jamming out to your favorite song. We’ve all been there. But next time, turn the car off. Keeping your car running wastes gas even if you’re not driving anywhere!
What to Do With the Money You Save on Gas
Okay, so you’re saving cash with those tips. Great! But now that you’ve figured out how to save money on gas, what should you do with the extra money? We’re glad you asked. Saving money on gas is an awesome way to make a small change with your money that can lead to big results. And to get there, we’re going to pull from our 7 Baby Steps—the proven plan for ditching debt, saving for emergencies, and building wealth!
1. Save it.
Having extra money in the budget every month is a beautiful feeling. But don’t ignore it or you’ll spend it here and there without even noticing. The first thing you should do with any extra money is save up a starter emergency fund (if you don’t already have one). That’s $1,000 in savings as a safety net for when life happens. Once you’ve got this, jump into our second step.
2. Pay off debt.
Debt keeps you and your money living in the past. You can’t get ahead when you’re paying off something from last month—or last year. So, once you’ve got your starter emergency fund, put any extra money toward paying off debt with the debt snowball method. Because being stuck in the past is bad for your hairstyle, your relationships and your money.
3. Save even more.
Once you’re debt-free, it’s back to saving until you’ve got a fully funded emergency fund of 3–6 months of expenses. Then you’ll be ready for even bigger unexpected life moments—like a job loss, an emergency root canal, or a storm blowing the roof of your house away.
4. Invest it.
When you’ve got solid savings, you should start investing 15% of your take-home pay. Retirement is coming—so be ready for it!
5. Budget it.
You need to budget for whatever extra cash you get from using these gas savings tips. Don’t worry—a budget’s a great thing. It lets you tell your money where to go! Oh, the power.
Start budgeting with EveryDollar today!
Get ready to make figuring out how to save money on gas (and in life!) a no-brainer. Our free easy-to-use budgeting app, EveryDollar, makes budgeting a cinch. So, are we pumped when gas prices go up? Nope, not a chance. But you can tackle them head on by having your budget ready to go. You’ve got this!