Today, I am launching a new, multi-part series called "Where to find the Cheapest..." Each part of the series will focus on a new item, which people are trying to find for the lowest price possible. With the price of gasoline at an all-time high, I figured "Where to Find the Cheapest Gas" is as good a place to start as any.
About five years ago, when I first moved to Oklahoma, I enjoyed some of the cheapest gas prices in the country. At the time, gas was about $1.23 a gallon. I didn't know it then, but those were good times. I could fill my car's gas tank for about $14. Not bad! Now, $14 barely gets me a quarter tank of gas in my mini-van, and that certainly doesn' t last very long.
We all know the tried-and-true advice of making sure you have enough air in your tires, keep your car tuned up, get your oil changed every 3,000, etc. This is not one of those articles. This article is about finding the rock-bottom cheapest gas possible...although these days, cheap gas is relative. In Oklahoma, I'm paying about $3.10 a gallon. In some areas of California, gasoline is more than $4 a gallong. Yikes.
Oddly enough, gasoline prices can vary wides from one gas station to the next in your very own city. Near my home, gas is always more expensive, because it is a nice suburb next to Oklahoma City. If I drive about 10 miles down the road, closer to Oklahoma City, gas prices drop nearly five cents a gallon, just because it's in a different zip code. I usually go there to get my gas because I have to drive there every day anyway. I probably wouldn't travel that far just to get gas, that would defeat the purpose of going there in the first place.
If you aren't sure where the cheap gas in your city is located, check out Gas Buddy.com. Users report cheap gas prices to Gas Buddy, and they are posted for everyone to see. You can even search by zip code to locate the cheapest gas prices.
If the gas in your area is about the same no matter where you go, try to make those gasoline purchases work for you. If you have a child that you hope to send off to college one day, sign up for Upromise. If you register your credit cards at Upromise, a percentage of your qualifying purchases are socked away in a college fund for your kid. You can even roll over those savings into a 529 college savings plan. One of those "qualifying purchases" is gasoline at ExxonMobil stations. Every time you buy gas and use your credit card, a few cents out of every gallon is being saved toward your young one's college fund. In the interest of full disclosure, Upromise is an advertiser at Savvy Frugality, but I am also a user. In the past few years, about $75 has been placed into my kids' college fund as the result of purchases I would have made anyway. Now, $75 won't exactly pay the tuition, but it's free money.
So-called "gas cards" have been around for awhile, but now you can get gas credit cards with rewards. If you are in the habit of paying off your balances every month, this might be a viable option for you to purchase gas with your card, pay it off, plus earn rebates on your gasoline purchases. The BP Visa Rewards Card offers a five percent rebate on purchases after an introductory period, but here are others as well.
Of course, some gas stations will cut you a break on the price of gas if you leave the credit card at home. There is a gas station on Route 66, not far from where I live, that doesn't even accept credit cards. All transactions are in cash, but the price of gas there is usually about five cents a gallon cheaper than other it is at other nearby gas stations. Find those stations in your area, and bring your cash. It can save you a few bucks over the course of a few fill-ups.
Aside from these ideas, I have simply started driving less. I only live a few blocks from my job, so I have started walking more. I'm having some maintenance done on my bicycle, and I plan to use that more, too. If you have a decent public transportation system in your area, invest in a monthly bus or subway pass. It will certainly cost less than filling up your car's tank a couple of times a week.