As of Sunday, the average price for a gallon of gasoline was $3.93 in the United States. Holy moly. In some places it’s even higher than that. With rising prices, budgeting in fuel for travel for day to day or vacations is a headache. I’d like to open up a discussion on how YOU budget for this nasty expense.
What I Do
Generally, I follow my larger budget rule: budget liberally, spend conservatively. I calculate how many miles I have to commute for the month, then half it and use that for the everyday travel I have to do for errands, etc. Then I multiply 1.5 times my commuting miles by whatever the gas prices are now plus twenty cents. After I figure that out, I add fifty dollars, just to be safe.
Then the month wears on. A considerable part of my budget is tied up in gas. Unexpected things come up. And I borrow from my gas fund.
So what I’m telling you is that my way doesn’t really work. If I stuck to it, it would, but the fact of the matter is I don’t have the income to support my driving habits. So here’s some other ideas that may be more helpful than my own practice.
What You Could Do Instead
- Use GasBuddy to find the lowest price for gasoline in your locale.
- Use your gas rewards points from shopping at your local grocery store. (I do this. It only helps so much.)
- CARPOOL! Not only does that save you on gas, but you get to ride in the HOV lane and laugh at all the stupid people sitting in traffic.
- Use public transportation. Especially if you live in a city where this is a viable option for your travel needs. (Cough, cough, not Pittsburgh.)
- One of my classmates shared with me an interesting way she saves for gasoline. She plays scratch off lottery tickets for fun, and when she wins she doesn’t cash them. Instead, she sticks them in her car so that when her wallet’s empty along with her gas tank, she has some emergency money conveniently stored. It’s really like a savings account that bears no interest. I thought it was a great solution to a difficult problem. If you do this, make sure you don’t blow a whole lot of money trying to win gas money. Money for the lottery should come out of the “entertainment” part of your budget. When you win, lock the winning tickets in your glove box so no one steals them or is tempted to break into your car. I’d still budget for gas, but this is such a creative way to have that money there for emergencies.