Five ways to ease your pain at the pump

Unless you have been living under a rock – or rely solely on your legs to take you places – you have undoubtedly noticed all of the news about the sky-rocketing gas prices. Despite the fact that I have been inundated with this news for the past week, it truly didn’t hit me until I pulled up to the pump yesterday. Talk about sticker shock!

If the prices have left you in pain at the pump as well, remember there are steps you can take to make sure they don’t send you into a financial tailspin.

  1. Search for the best price. Gas prices usually vary from one area of town to the other. Websites such as GasPriceWatch.com can give you detailed information about the gas prices at stations in your neighborhood.
  2. Drive sensibly. Did you know that exceeding the speed limit by just 5 mph can result in an average fuel economy loss of 6 percent? Constant accelerating and braking wastes gas, and according to CNN Money, it can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent when driving at highway speeds and by 5 percent when cruising around town.
  3. Plan trips in advance. If you know you have to run multiple errands in a day, make a plan that will help you consolidate the number of trips you have to take. This tactic is also useful for driving down the cost of road trips. Gas prices vary from one city to another. Plan your route so you don’t get stuck paying extra because you have no choice.
  4. Routinely maintain your vehicle. Get your vehicle checked on a regular basis  to make sure all systems are running smoothly. Make sure spark plugs and sensors are replaced on time and the tire pressure is at the right level. If these aren’t maintained, your vehicle will have to work harder, which means guzzling more gas.
  5. Look into alternatives. Research other methods of transportation. These could include carpooling with co-workers, using public transportation or even riding a bicycle. With the growing number of affordable hybrid vehicles on the market, you may find that you can save money by investing in a new car. Not sure if you can afford a new car? Check out one of the many automotive budgeting calculators MMI offers to help you make an informed decision.

For more tools to help you save at the pump, watch Best Gas Credit Cards, a video that shows you a few simple ways to save an additional 15 to 30 cents on every gallon.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.