You might have heard that the government is mulling an increase in the gas tax. The U.S. Highway Trust Fund is nearly broke, it relies primarily on a federal gas tax for revenue.
Prices have gone up, as a result of inflation, and gas prices have gone up even faster… but the federal gas excise tax has been stuck at 18.4 cents ever since 1994.
Regardless of what the government does to the gas tax, we can all agree that it seems like gas prices don’t ever seem to go down!
So if your budget is feeling pinched because of how much you’re spending on fuel, here are four tips on how to save on gas.
Consider Alternate Transportation
Is it possible for you to bike to work? Biking to work can be a fantastic way to get exercise and save money on gas, since you’ll be relying on your own personal fuel to get you to work or school.
If you don’t own a bicycle, there will be some up front costs involved as you purchase a bike and a helmet. You’ll also have to adjust your schedule a bit, since biking will take longer than driving, but it is ultimately healthier for you and your wallet.
If biking is not possible, what about, mass transit like a train or bus? You may be able to even reap the benefits of the Commuter Transit Tax Benefit if your employer offers this type of transportation benefit.
If you’re like most, driving to and from work or school accounts for most of your gasoline usage. Carpooling can be an effective way in reducing the amount of fuel you use.
I know driving yourself has so many benefits – you have control over when you go into work and when you leave, you can run errands during the day when you have access to a vehicle, you can respond to emergencies, and it’s just nice to be able to come and go as you please without having to coordinate with someone else.
But carpooling saves you so much money… so how can you reconcile the differences? Try carpooling with a friend just once a week. This week, you drive. Next week, your friend drives. Out of ten days, you cut your fuel usage by one day.
As you get more comfortable, you can start adding days. Ease into it and you’ll soon see that it’s not nearly as bad as you think it is!
Telecommuting is becoming an increasingly popular option for folks who want to get work done but don’t want to sit in traffic. Talk to your supervisor to see if your work could be done at home.
Ease into it to see if you can be effective by telecommuting – try for one day a week. You may find that you are far more effective at home, without the distractions. You may also find that you are not effective at all!
In the end, you don’t want to jeopardize your work, so be mindful of your effectiveness. If it works out, this can be a great way to save on gas.
If You Must Drive Your Car…
If you must drive a car, here are a few quick ways you can conserve fuel.
First, drive slower. The speed limit might feel absurdly slow but the slower you drive, the less fuel you use. As you increase speed, you increase drag, which means your car has to burn more fuel to maintain its speed.
Since you aren’t driving cross country, going 10 MPH slower is probably going to mean getting where you’re going just a few minutes later.
Clean out your car. Some fuel conservation extremists go as far as removing their spare tire, which I think is a terrible idea. But are you lugging around boxes of junk you don’t need? Extra weight means you’re burning fuel moving junk around.
Cruise if you can. Cruise control is your friend on any car rides, especially longer ones, because the car is better at managing speed than you are.
Instead of speeding up and braking, cruise control helps you maintain a level speed.
Lastly, check your tire pressure. You want it exactly as the manufacturer demands because that’s how you get the most efficient fuel economy out of your car and it keeps your tires lasting as long as possible.
Here’s to hoping they don’t increase the gas tax!