5 Frugal tips for saving when gas prices soar

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In its biggest jump since Hurricane Katrina disrupted Gulf refineries more than five years ago, the retail price for gasoline soared more than 30 cents, bringing the cost to $3.51 a gallon. Prices have been on a steady rise for the past two weeks, according to American Automobile Association (AAA) statistics released by CNN Money.

While high prices may cause panic for some consumers, remember there are steps you can take to make sure soaring prices don’t send you into a financial tailspin. The financial experts at Money Management International (MMI) offer the following suggestions to help you get the most out of your fill up.

1. Search for the best price. Gas prices usually vary from one area of town to the other. Websites such as www.GasPriceWatch.com can give you detailed information about the gas prices at stations in your neighborhood.

2. Drive sensibly. Did you know that exceeding the speed limit by just 5 mph can result in an average fuel economy loss of 6 percent? Constant accelerating and braking wastes gas, and according to CNN Money, it can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent when driving at highway speeds and by 5 percent when cruising around town.

3. Plan trips in advance. If you know you have to run multiple errands in a day, make a plan that will help you consolidate the number of trips you have to take. This tactic is also useful for driving down the cost of road trips. Gas prices vary from one city to another. Plan your route so you don’t get stuck paying extra because you have no choice.

4. Routinely maintain your vehicle. Get your vehicle checked on a regular basis to make sure all systems are running smoothly. Make sure spark plugs and sensors are replaced on time and the tire pressure is at the right level. If these aren’t maintained, your vehicle will have to work harder, which means guzzling more gas.

5. Look into alternatives. Research other methods of transportation. These could include carpooling with co-workers, using public transportation or even riding a bicycle. With the growing number of affordable hybrid vehicles on the market, you may find that you can save money by investing in a new car. Check out one of the many automotive budgeting calculators MMI offers to help you make an informed decision.

For more information on how to make wise financial choices at the pump, visit MoneyManagement.org and watch Best Gas Credit Cards, a video that shows you a few simple ways to save an additional 15 to 30 cents on every gallon.