MINNEAPOLIS — While gas prices have started to dip over the past several weeks, higher-than-average costs can still have a big impact on the budgets of working American families.
Last year around this time, when a the nationwide average for gallon of unleaded hovered around $3.15 or so, paying a few pennies more for convenience might not have been big deal for most. But now that gas averages about $4.63 across the state, finding the least expensive place to fill up can save you serious dough.
Extra savings, compounded over multiple fill-ups a month, can impact the amount of groceries a consumer buys, whether they can pay the entire heating bill, or afford to spread a bit of money around to help keep local businesses afloat.
So how can you find the cheapest gas in town? The easiest and fastest way is by using an app that monitors fuel prices across Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro.
GasBuddy.com gets information from users reflecting prices at more than 150,000 stations across the country, sharing their price for a gallon of unleaded in real time. Here in the Twin Cities, the fuel app surveys prices at 1,106 local stations daily.
Fuel rewards programs are another way to save. Most big gas station chains (Speedway, BP) offer cash or points if you sign up for a rewards program, and you can maximize your savings by then paying for your fuel with a credit card that offers a percentage back on what you spend.
Regional or local grocery stores like Hy-Vee have rewards programs offering gas discounts that increase with the amount of money you spend on groceries and supplies.
And while this sounds simple (and obvious), reduce the amount of miles you drive. Work remote when you can to eliminate the commute, and maximize the efficiency of trips and stops when you run errands.
Finally, make sure your trusty steed is running at peak efficiency, and think about your driving behaviors.
- Keep speeds down
- Make sure tires are at recommended pressure
- Remove excess weight from vehicle - pushing more uses additional fuel
- Be gentle on take-offs and stops
- Keep the windows up to reduce wind drag and increase aerodynamics
- Don't wait until almost empty to fill - desperation reduces your ability to price shop
"The simple things are starting to make a profound impact on how many miles you'll get out of that tank of gasoline," said GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan on a recent Facebook Live.
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