Although gas prices vary throughout the country, the cost per gallon in most areas is either approaching or slightly over $4.00. With much of the enormous increase coming over just the past several months, nearly everyone regularly driving a car is feeling the pain at the pump.
Many times, simply avoiding a higher-cost expense is the solution to getting your spending budget back under control. But most people can’t suddenly stop driving—they need to drive just to get to work. Quitting your job in order to save on gas is obviously not the answer. Fortunately, you don’t have to go right to the life changes that might make you miserable to reduce the rest of your spending. First, start with these five quick tips, each of which can help you spend less with minimal pain.
Tip # 1: Read ebooks—at the library
You’re a voracious, motivated, and tech-savvy reader. (Why else are you here?) Your local library might just have an e-library. If they do, borrow the ebooks you want and save. No reading device yet? Increasingly, libraries are lending Amazon Kindles.
Tip # 2: Combine trips
Combining two or more car trips into one won’t just save you gas money, it will also save you time. Consequently, I am a big fan of this tip no matter the price of gasoline. If you need to get to the grocery store and the warehouse club—just a mile further down the road—visit both, one right after the other. Add a third or fourth destination (maybe even the library?) at the same time to really take advantage. Driving for volunteer work? Don’t forget, you can often deduct mileage driven to and from it on your tax return. Save those receipts!
Tip # 3: Negotiate your cable, phone, and Internet bill(s)
With increasing competition between phone, cable, and satellite companies, the bargaining position between you and the utilities has changed dramatically over the last several years. To take advantage, however, you must initiate the dialogue. Why pay more for the same? Cut your bill immediately by calling at least two providers to get the best deal. Don’t be afraid to play them off each other.
Tip # 4: Look at how much you’re paying for insurance
You’ll never impress anyone with expensive insurance premiums. If it’s been more than a couple of years since you requested alternative companies quote on your car insurance, it’s time to make a few phone calls. Don’t be surprised if you can save a few hundred dollars per year. Also, don’t forget to ask about association or other discounts available to you.
Tip # 5: Use your points
You’ve earned all of those hotel or frequent flyer points. Trust me—using them is much more fun than earning them. Although redeeming airline points for free flights isn’t the most straightforward exercise, a couple of hours and some flexibility could easily save you $300, $400, or much more on a ticket. When cash is tight, using alternative currency (your points) is a particularly great way to go . . . away.