COMMENTARY | Did gas prices take a big chunk out of your 2011 budget? Well, according to a report, the average American household has spent $4,155 filling their gas tanks this year. That number accounts for 8.4 percent of the median family income and is the highest share since 1981. For my family, the cost of gas has made us make a few changes in the way we drive and will continue as 2012 begins.
Only One Car
Even though we are a family of seven, we have currently dropped down to only one vehicle. With only one tank to have to worry about filling, we are better able to budget just how much gas we will need. We also carpool on a regular basis to try and keep the prices down.
Using Our Feet
In our society, we have become dependent on jumping in the car and driving to where we need to go, even if it is just around the corner. The increased gas prices have made my family decide that walking is better. If there is somewhere we need to go that is local, we choose to walk instead of driving. The kids have learned that their bikes are a great form of transportation and not just a fun thing to ride around and do trick on.
With having only one vehicle and trying to cut down on gas prices, we have learned to combine our trips. Instead of running out to the store when we need one item, we make a list and make sure we have everything we need. We plan our trips out and make sure that one trip hits all the stores or locations we need. If we have to go a long distance for something, we try and work in other obligations or shopping into the same trip.
Take Advantage of Gas Discounts
Many grocery stores that also have gas stations offer discounted gas prices based on how much you spend in groceries. We have a few stores in our area that do this. We have made a point of shopping at these stores in order to use the discount and make sure we fill our gas tank when we have the biggest discount available. The only things you need to watch out for are the store prices. If you are paying more for your groceries at a given store in order to earn a gas discount, it may not really be saving you anything. Watch the sales and keep an eye on what you are spending.
I don’t see the price of gas dropping anytime soon so using some of these ideas may help you save a bit when it comes to your gas budget. I know it has worked for my family and we will continue to try and cut costs wherever we can.