Manage Rising Fuel Costs With Plastic
Gas prices have been out of control lately. Now that Melissa is driving to school everyday, our monthly gas costs have gotten much higher and our budget is feeling the pinch (or should I say punch).
We do have a plan for reducing our gas costs outside of the obvious suggestion of driving less.
First, using the Internet we can find the cheapest gas around. Personally I prefer Gas Price Watch. There is a good article with several options for finding cheap gas at Search Engine Watch. The article is a bit dated, but the few links I checked beyond Gas Price Watch still had some useful information.
Even though I like to confirm the information on the Internet, I know the cheapest place in our area already. There is a huge Mr. Car Wash nearby with a ton of pumps that uses cheaper gas prices to pull in more folks. I try to fill up at that location exclusively and judging by the traffic, I’m not the only one.
This location’s strategy relies on high volume and upselling with their car washes and oil changes (both heavily advertised). They even have unique gifts like local jellys and gifts inside the store. I bet they more than make up for the cheaper gas prices through these other services. This isn’t an issue for me as I generally won’t pay to get my car washed – it’s just too expensive – and I always pay at the pump so I avoid all temptation by not even going inside the store.
Another way we’re looking to save money at the pump is through our credit card. We have a Citibank Driver’s Edge card and get 3% back on gas and automotive purchases (as well as on grocery store purchases – our other big expense every month.) We took a while to choose our credit card and now it’s paying off. By transferring our Driver’s Edge rewards points to ThankYou network points, we can get rewards of $50 Shell gift cards.
Originally we wanted to use our reward points to get gift cards to chain restaurants so we could eat out without affecting our budget. These days we eat nearly all of our meals in as Melissa practices new techniques for culinary school. When we do get a chance to go out, we rarely want to go to a chain restaurant but instead want to try new and interesting foods.
Because we haven’t been choosing the same old restaurants (the only restaurants for which we can use our ThankYou reward points), we have a backlog of unspent points that will now be buying us gas. Even just one giftcard will make a noticeable dent in our monthly gasoline purchases. Short of changing to a motorcycle for a commute, I think this will be one of our best bets for helping our budget absorb higher gas prices in the short term.
So what are you doing to save money on your fuel costs? How has it affected your household?
Image Source: A_Siegel