Money Talks, So Should You

5 tips for saving gas money

Clint Williams
by Clint Williams, Dimespring Contributor

The average American household spends nearly $400 a month at the gasoline pump, according to the Oil Price Information Service, the leading U.S. provider of retail fuel price information.

The study, done in 2011 (when gas prices were higher), compared average gas prices with median incomes nationwide, also showed that U.S. households spent nearly 9 percent of their total income on gas last month. In some areas with more extensive mass transit, the fewer miles driven resulted in less of a bite. For example, New York households spent 5.5 percent of income on gas.

READ: 3 painless money management tips

But it’s easy to get more miles per gallon  and more miles per dollar  by changing your driving habits and taking the time to do proper maintenance.

Some tips to save on gas:

  • Slow down. The physics of it all are a bit complicated because  well, because it’s physics  but driving faster than 55 mph reduces fuel efficiency the faster you go. Every 5 mph you drive above 50 mph is like paying an additional 25 cents per gallon of gas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Don’t drive like a maniac. Aggressive driving  drag race starts, tire screeching stops  drops your mpg by as much as a third. It’s like paying an additional $1 a gallon. If you think this advice comes from a nagging federal bureaucrat, consider a test done a few years back by the editors of Edmunds.com, the automobile review website. They drove a Volvo S40 and a BMW X3 around 55-mile loop. The results? An average savings of 31 percent when driving moderately, compared to driving aggressively with rapid starts and stops.
  • Clean out the junk in the trunk. An extra 100 pounds of stuff in your trunk will reduce your gas mileage about 2 percent. As an example, 2 percent of $3.75 is nearly 8 cents a gallon.
  • Set your cruise control. Using cruise control does two things. It helps you maintain a reasonable speed and also nudges you to look ahead to anticipate traffic flow to avoid stopping and starting. The Edmunds drivers reduced fuel usage by an average of 7 percent using cruise control.
  • Keep up the pressure. Keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure improve gas mileage by about 3 percent. You’ll find that information posted on a sticker on the driver's side door jam or in your owner's manual.

READ: How much should I be saving for retirement in my 20s?

While the price of gasoline is beyond your control, there is plenty you can do to make sure you get the most out of each tank.

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Stacy Johnson of Moneytalksnews.com discusses some simple tips that can help you save $1,000 by the end of the year.

Clint Williams is an Arizona-based freelancer for DImespring. He has written for the Arizona Republic and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.