If you’ve filled up your car at the pump, paid your last energy bill, gone to the supermarket, or pretty much bought anything in the past few months, you may have noticed that prices have been going up and up. If you have already cut back on the non-essentials, you might be looking for new ways to keep a little extra money in your pocket these days. We’ve got you covered with these tips and tricks to stay ahead of rising price
Save at the Pump
With the average price of gas creeping up all the time, you might already be searching your couch for loose change just to make it to work in the morning. While the high price will still be a headache, there are a few ways to squeeze some savings at the pump and make your gas last a little longer
1. First things first, find the lowest price before you refill. The easiest way to find the cheapest gas station is to sign up for a membership at a big box store such as Costco or Sam’s Club. Because both companies buy all of their products wholesale, including gasoline, their prices for both gas and groceries are on average a good deal cheaper than many other chains.
Additionally, Costco gasoline meets the high standards of Top Tier Gasoline, which is a fuel performance specification enforced by leading automotive and heavy duty equipment manufacturers, all with the goal of verifying high quality gasoline that will keep your engine cleaner and thus more efficient.
If you aren’t in the market for another yearly membership, you can also rely on a few different apps to help you locate the lowest gas prices in your area. AAA, GasBuddy, and Gas Guru are all popular apps that can list nearby gas stations by price and distance.
Gasoline credit cards have also become very popular in recent times. These are cards that will give you a monetary amount back when you buy gasoline, usually 5 to 10 cents per mile. However, with prices so high, these gas cards might pale in comparison to more traditional cash back rewards offered by major credit cards. As this article from Consumer Reports outlines, credit cards offering rewards such as 3-5% cashback on gasoline will actually save more money than the rewards offered from gas credit cards.
2. Finally, now is the time to consider making the gas in your car last as long as possible. News19 has recently published an article on stretching your fuel with some main takeaways; keep your tires properly inflated to avoid lowering your gas mileage and avoid wear and tear; driving over 50 mph actually starts to lower your gas mileage significantly due to the added wind resistance; Avoid hard starts and stops, more acceleration means worse fuel economy.
3. The other big consideration for your car’s fuel is air conditioning. With temperatures reaching record highs all over the country, you might be leaning very heavily on your car’s AC to avoid melting into your seat when you drive home at the end of the day.
According to another article by Consumer Reports, there are actually a number of different ways you can get the most out of your AC that may not be readily apparent. For starters, the car’s AC works better when you’re driving due to the AC compressor running faster the faster the engine runs. That being said, you actually want to open your windows for about 20 seconds when you first start driving with the AC on. The car will most likely be hotter on the inside, and open windows will help the car cool down faster while the AC is getting started.
Additionally, it may very well be more fuel efficient to run the AC on the lowest setting. This is due to how most car AC systems work. They actually cool air to 38 degrees and setting the temperature higher doesn’t mean the car has to do less work, but rather it has to reheat the cooled air and work harder, leading to more fuel usage.
Save on your Energy Bill
While your car’s AC might be a point of concern, most people are now seeing that the AC in the home is costing more than ever. As much as you can scrimp and save and try and minimize your AC usage, when the temperature outside is hitting 90+ degrees, AC is simply a necessity. So how can you cut down on your bill without turning your home into a sauna?
4. According to an article from Maytag HVAC, there are a few simple tips and tricks that you can try out right now: To start with some obvious tips, keep your windows and doors closed and plug any leaks under doors and windows and in your attic; Program your thermostat and let it run. Constantly changing your thermostat hotter or colder can make it run longer than intended and lead to more energy usage, setting a program that only turns on the AC when you actually need it will lead to noticeably less usage; Shade your condenser. Keeping the windows closed and the shades down will keep your home cooler, but if the actual AC unit is baking in the sun it will have a harder time cooling down the condenser and thus have to work harder to pump cool air into the house; Additionally, make sure to maximize airflow around the condenser. High grass, plants and other obstructions can obstruct air flow and should be at least 2 feet away.
5. If you have a single unit cooling a full house, you might want to invest in a zoning system. If you’re spending most of your time in a few rooms, you’re losing money when your AC unit is cooling every room of the house at the same time.
If a full zoning system is out of your price range, a more affordable alternative can be a vent damper. These are simply covers or flaps that can block air vents to allow more air to flow to specific rooms instead of the entire house. Keep in mind however that Maytag HVAC actually warns about dampers, saying they tamper with the cooling load the AC is meant to cool. So double check with the HVAC company offering the service and see if the dampers will hurt the AC unit before taking any further steps.
Save at the Grocery Store
You may have also noticed your grocery bill going up recently. According to Bloomberg, grocery prices have jumped up over 11%. So how do you load up on your weekly groceries without breaking the bank?
6. An easy first step is to get a shopper card at the chain you usually shop at. Some cards work as simply as swiping before you pay to receive discounts on select items. Others are more in depth, allowing you to register for an account and earn cashback and reward points for buying the groceries you already have on your list. Eat This, Not That has put out an article outlining 7 of some of the best grocery store rewards programs.
2. Beyond the rewards you can get for buying groceries, there are a number of ways to save a few bucks on the groceries themselves. Generally speaking, certain brands will be cheaper than others for identical items. Read up on our article about choosing between name-brand and store-brand to see what to consider.
3. Stores will also feature sale prices on certain items and knowing when and which items will be on sale will give you the best chance to plan your purchases and save some money. Sometimes it is the manufacturer that decides which items to put on sale, and other times it is the grocery store itself.
Items that are expiring soon will often go on sale, so take note of perishables and seasonal items you find in the store. Holiday themed items are a great example of this. You can expect to see turkeys on sale after Thanksgiving and Christmas themed products going on sale right after the holiday ends. For other perishables like meat, there will often be sales prices right after they restock. For most stores this happens on the weekend, but if you are getting all of your groceries at the same place, it is worth a quick Google search to determine when your local chain restocks specific items.
4. Finally, you can turn to the internet to find sales at your preferred store. If you’re shopping a big chain, simply visit their website. Usual categories will not only include which items are on sale, but also advertisements for new products and prices, as well as exclusive coupons.