Can you save on gas prices even as they keep dropping?
People who drive even a little bit have probably noticed a pretty nice trend in the last few months: Gas prices are dropping quickly. The days of a gallon of fuel being around $3 or so seem like a distant memory already, and some experts think it's possible that things could get even more affordable in the near future, as the summer driving season - when gas prices typically spike - comes to an end.
Already, the average national cost for a gallon of gas is at lows not seen in at least a decade, and still the average family in the U.S. spends some $2,500 on fuel alone each year, according to a report from GMA On the Money. That number can also balloon quite quickly, depending upon how much the family drives each week (i.e. if parents have long commutes to work, or the activities kids have on the weekend). But there are also numerous ways to save even as prices fall, and consumers who can take advantage may be able to pocket hundreds of dollars' worth of savings over the course of a year.
How can it be done?
Usually, the best ways to save on gas involve just using it more efficiently, and that can be done by driving smarter, using various technologies to help the cause, the report said. For instance, there are now tools that can be plugged into a car directly, which will tell a driver when they're doing things that burn more fuel than is necessary. For example, stepping on the gas too hard to accelerate, or braking too suddenly, can waste a lot of fuel, and these devices will actually let drivers know how much this kind of aggressive habit can cost them, especially because they allow users to input how much they spend on fuel. Some users cut their gas consumption by 30 percent as a result of these devices.
Another thing that can be done in this regard is to use auto-updating mapping apps to identify parts of even a familiar commute that might be experiencing heavy traffic, avoiding these congested stretches can save plenty of money, the report said. Sitting in stop-and-go traffic or idling for even 10 minutes burns a lot of fuel, and that's something commuters end up doing a lot, so avoiding that issue may save in the long run as well.
What else works?
Finally, many gas stations now charge consumers more for using credit cards to fill up their tanks, so paying with cash or a debit card could save them even more money. In some cases, using apps to find the cheapest gas in an area might also be a good idea.
Given that this can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings, it might be wise for consumers to use that extra money to pay off debt or build up a savings account. That kind of effort can put consumers on much better financial footing going forward.