When we pull up to the pump, most of us cringe these days. For some people, it’s no longer cost-efficient to drive into the office and forget recreational driving. A growing number of people are concerned about gas prices and don’t know what to do.
The first step is to honestly assess the current situation, implement functional behavior changes, and make a plan. Although we can’t control what the market does, we can control our spending and current debt levels.
Current State of Gasoline
AAA recently stated that the average gas price is $4.96 per gallon. Depending on where you live, this number can fluctuate several dollars. The demand for gas going into summertime is only getting more significant. Summer trips, boat rides on the lake or ocean, jet skis, four-wheeling, and toys we play with during this season are much more expensive.
Weekly gas prices are going up, and there is little sign of slowing down. In May, crude oil averaged $113 per barrel; however, this month, crude oil averages around $120+ per barrel. Most of us are hoping it’ll end shortly, but if not, there is a great expression we can all learn from, “proper preparation prevents poor performance.” We can give ourselves an advantage with this thought in mind regarding fuel consumption.
Many practical solutions exist when it comes to saving on gas. They all require different levels of behavior change; let’s face it, changing behavior is not easy. Especially when it comes to pumping gas while we check our email, scroll through social media, make a phone call, or do other multitasking activities. All too often, we mindlessly pull into the gas station and fill up at whatever price is on the pump that day. If you want to save a few hard-earned dollars, you’ll have to be more conscientious.
In the spirit of being mindful, take time to map out the day. Going to work or the grocery store is unavoidable, but avoiding a wreck that clogs your regular route can be averted. Simple mobile apps like Waze can show you the bottlenecks in traffic before you leave the house and help avoid gas sucking idle time.
Carpooling to work or with neighbors to run errands is another excellent way to save. Be sure to combine errands to complete as many as possible before the trip home. Even mapping out the most efficient route to make all the stops can shave a few cents on the dollar. This takes time and coordination with others but can impact the bottom line.
Tire pressure can impact fuel efficiency as well. A simple tire check at the gas station can burn less gas. In the same vein, lighten the load in your vehicle. If you have extra “junk in the trunk,” take it out. Jack Gillis, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, says, “For every 100 extra pounds carried around, your vehicle loses 1-2% in fuel efficiency. For every 100 lbs you unload, you’re saving the equivalent of 5 cents per gallon.”
Other Gas Hacks
Mobile apps like GasBuddy, AAA Mobile, and GasGuru can help find the lowest gas price in the area. Paying cash can save up to 10 cents per gallon at the pump too. Don’t forget that Costco, Sam’s Club, or Walmart+ membership. These deals will often save in the ballpark of 5 cents per gallon.
Recession on the Horizon
The longer-sighted effects of buying less gas can lead us to a recession. As of March, US gas consumption is down roughly 6 percent from the pre-pandemic period. Although summer is typically associated with road trip vacations, many of us are tightening the belt to brace for a difficult economic impact.
High gas prices impact every other item we buy. To bring the goods we need to market, they must be harvested, mined, processed, and shipped to our local stores or doorstep. All of these steps require fuel. It also involves gasoline to transport ourselves to jobs outside the home, which pays for the energy we use. It becomes a concerning conundrum because an economic slowdown is inevitable as we get more spending conscious.
In a recessionary environment, investors are more hesitant to stay in the market, and entrepreneurial endeavors become stifled. As inflation climbs alongside the recent raising of interest rates by the Federal Reserve, it becomes harder to borrow money to allow for significant economic growth. Less production and fewer job opportunities lead to fewer goods with an unstable financial future.
Debt can be debilitating during a recession or an inflationary economy. It can cripple your ability to buy necessary goods at the moment and significantly hinder larger purchases like a car or new home. The most considerable liability you have during economic downtimes is unsettled debt that doesn’t add overall worth.
Relieving yourself of the debt can be difficult, especially when making ends meet has become as cumbersome as today’s economy. If you’re looking at your finances and ready to pull out your hair, you’re not alone, and there is no shame in that—partner with a professional. Advocate Debt Relief has a team of highly skilled analysts standing by to help you assess the situation and navigate a healthy path forward. Times might be challenging, but a well-laid plan can help weather the storm ahead.