It’s Frugal Friday! The time when we take a few moments to focus on tips and hints for frugal living.
I love living “out in the country,” and I love having a big family. I also love that our family camps and uses our boat for spring-summer-fall fun. The only downside to all those things is the amount we spend on gasoline. With four kids and the need to be able to tow, my mom-mobile is a full-size 8-passenger Chevy Express van (this for the mom who never wanted a minivan…well, there’s nothing “mini” about my van now! Watch what you wish for…). It’s oh-so-roomy, versatile, tows our camper, hauls our stuff, looks sort of dorky on the outside, but suits our family’s needs. All except the gas guzzling department. We’re in the mid-teens MPG for most driving, and even lower when we tow the camper. Ugh (especially with our 6667-mile road trip this summer!).
So, we do what we can to help keep gas costs down. Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful for you, no matter how fuel-efficient your vehicles are. A little advance planning can help take at least some of the sting out of the price at the pump. And until they make a 6-passenger Prius that can tow 6,000 pounds, I need all the help I can get!
- Maximize FuelPerks: We talk about this all the time in our Giant Eagle matchups. You get 10¢ off per gallon for every $50 in groceries you buy at Giant Eagle. Plus they offer Bonus FuelPerks deals each week, and several times a year they run Double FuelPerks (20¢ per gallon) on gift cards. Ways to get the most out of your FuelPerks:
- ALWAYS get 30 gallons when you redeem! If your gas tank’s not that big (mine is in my monster van!), buy a few extra 5-gallon cans so you can max out your discount. If you take less than the 30 gallons, you’re leaving free gas on the table! Take the cans home to fill up your second car, your mower, or whatever else you need. Just make sure you store them carefully!
- Buy gift cards at GE to pay for restaurants, vacation, or other shopping. Making a big electronics purchase? Might as well get free gas for it by buying Best Buy cards at Giant Eagle, then paying with those. We got tons of free gas by getting Lowe’s and Home Depot cards and using them to help pay for our basement renovation. Same goes for department stores, restaurants, and even Disney World. If you’re spending the money anyway, get gift cards first to earn FuelPerks.
- Take advantage of Bonus FuelPerks offers. If it’s something you’ll use anyway, these Bonus FuelPerks deals frequently make them free or super cheap after your free gas and coupons are factored in.
- Be strategic with your driving: Consolidate trips if possible to reduce the amount of driving you need to do. If you’re running low on milk, it’s great to have someone stop on their way home rather than make a separate trip out. If you’re making a longer trip to visit family or see a doctor, consider other nearby errands that you might be able to complete while you’re out.
- Consider a gas rewards credit card: Some of these aren’t as great a deal as they used to be–unfortunately our BP Visa card doesn’t give nearly as much back now as it did a few years ago. Some cards are specific to gas stations, and others just give cash back for gas station purchases. Research the options, and see if one might be beneficial for your family (just make sure you pay it off each month, or the interest charges will negate any gas savings!).
- Maintain your vehicle: Properly inflated tires, clean air filters, and other basic maintenance can make a big difference in the performance of your vehicle, and can affect gas mileage. Good maintenance can also lengthen the lifespan of your car, which is also frugal!
- Consider mileage when it’s time to car shop: Our family size and need to tow limit the type of vehicle we can buy, but most families have a little more flexibility in this area. Hybrid vehicles tend to be more expensive than standard gasoline vehicles, but even gas-powered vehicles can get good mileage (for instance, the Chevy Cruze can get up to 42 MPG, and is a moderately-priced car). Depending on how much you drive per month (and the price of gas), you might actually come ahead by spending a little more on a car with much better gas mileage–do your math, and figure out what will work best for you.
How about you, Sisters and Misters? Any tips for how to save at the pump? I’d love to hear some of your ideas in the comments or on Facebook. Thanks for sharing!
If you’re just joining the Frugal Friday series, check out these previous posts:
- Tracking Your Spending
- Creating a Budget
- Making Frugal Choices
- Fighting Spending Envy
- Could You Cut the Cable?
- Saving on Food Expenses
- Schedule to Save (keeping track of due dates to avoid fees & penalties)
- Staying Organized with Holiday Shopping & Rebates
- Frugal Lovin’ (Love & money, plus date night on a Shoestring Budget)
- Waste Not, Want Not (buying what you’ll use, and using what you buy)
- Frugal Fashion
- Frugal Beauty
- Frugal Cooking tip: Prep Once, Eat Twice!
- Budget Check-Up
- Plan ahead for Christmas
- Creating an Emergency Fund
- Getting by on a Single Income
- Reducing Fixed Expenses
- Free Printable Frugal Living Resources (meal planners, expense trackers, and more!)
- Tips for Tax Time
- Healthy Eating on a Budget
- Frugal Living with Kids
- Frugal Fitness
- Save with Second-Hand
Megan has been frugal most of her life, but has been really honing her frugal skills as the chief home economist for her family of six, surviving and thriving on a single (teacher’s!) income. If she can do it, you can too!