The good news is that gasoline prices are not expected to skyrocket this summer. The bad news is that gasoline prices are still around $3.50 a gallon which is hardly inexpensive. In fact, the government recently forecasted an average of $3.79 a gallon for the summer driving season. Nearly $4 a gallon is actually being touted as good news. When gas prices drop, they usually drop pennies at a time and yet it seems that consumers are expected to rejoice at the meager savings.
The reality of the high cost of gasoline is that it can take a heavy toll on a person’s budget. We’ve seen many families who are financially stressed because of having to put gas in their truck, van or SUV, or must commute a fair distance to work or school. And people on fixed or limited incomes, such as students or retirees, are often hard hit as well. A few tips from Credit Counseling of Arkansas (CCOA) for those looking to keep their gasoline costs under control:
- Don’t “floor it.” Fast starts and Indy 500 style driving drastically cut down fuel efficiency.
- Make sure your air and gas filters aren’t dirty.
- Check to make sure the air pressure in your tires is adequate. Underinflated tires not only result in lower gas mileage, but wear out your tires sooner as well.
- Extra weight makes your car work harder. If your trunk is doubling as a storage closet, remove some items.
- Explore your options. If possible, use public transportation. Ride a bike short distances. Or find carpool friends to split the costs. Even just carpooling a few days a month can be worth it.
- If you don’t already have a lock on your gas tank, consider buying a locking gas cap, which is fairly inexpensive. Gas siphoning is becoming increasingly more common.
Stretching your gas dollar can be helpful, but if it’s not enough, you may need to take a step back and look at your overall household budget and see what else you can adjust.
Mark Foster is Director of Education with Credit Counseling of Arkansas (CCOA). CCOA is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Visit CCOA online at www.CCOAcares.com
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.