Gasoline prices have climbed at a record pace this week, rising from a national average of $3,656 on March 2 to $4,318 on March 10.
A combination of continued inflation and President Joe Biden’s recent decision to ban Russian oil imports is to blame, experts say. Announcing the decision on Tuesday to implement new sanctions with immediate effect, Biden said, “Today’s decision is not without a cost here at home. Putin’s war is already hurting American families at the gas pump,” he said. “With this action, it will go up even further.”
This cost translates into tight budgets and more families living paycheck to paycheck as consumers are impacted not only by higher prices at the pump, but also by higher prices for goods and services that rely on diesel truck and rail transport and larger trips. prices as kerosene costs also rise.
“Seasonality is part of the impact, part of the summer essence, but the main thing is still the situation in Russia,” says Patrick De Haan, head of oil analysis for GasBuddy. “The risk, the possibility of further disruptions and escalation are taken into account. The United States only gets small amounts of crude oil and products from Russia, but it is also a commodity world and US sanctions have considerable effects on the ability of other countries to also buy oil from Russia.
Consumers can protect themselves from the worst of these rising prices by researching the best gas prices, using a gas app, and taking other steps to cut costs from their budgets in anticipation of high fuel prices.
Make lifestyle changes to reduce expenses
When one item in your budget increases, other items must decrease. Consumers now have to budget for both high gasoline prices at the pump and rising prices across industries, says Denton Cinquegrana, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.
“Keep an eye on the diesel,” Cinquegrana wrote in an email. “Crude oil and gasoline are front page news. But it’s diesel that drives the economy and prices there are skyrocketing more than gasoline. This means the price of everything goes up, items on the shelves of grocery stores, big box retailers, malls… Fuel surcharges for trucking are going to be passed on to the consumer.
Review your budget and look for opportunities to save money in other expense areas to offset increased transportation costs. This could mean cutting back on discretionary spending to make room for a larger transportation budget this month or altering your lifestyle to avoid bearing the brunt of today’s high gas prices.
Gas prices are high and experts do not expect prices to drop, especially as pandemic cases in the United States decline and the hot summer months approach. Take public transportation whenever possible, carpool with friends, and avoid planning car trips or booking flights for the next few months. Consider working from home instead of fueling up for a long commute to work, if possible.
Consider joining a warehouse club like Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s Wholesale Club to take advantage of discounts on bulk merchandise and member-only gas stations that often offer lower prices than other stations in a given area.
“Your budget is a living tool that should change due to various financial priorities or influences,” wrote Thomas Racca, manager of Navy Federal Credit Union‘s personal finance management team, in an email. “Start by looking at all the areas where there might be room to cut back. For example, if there’s a streaming service you don’t use frequently, cancel your subscription for a short time. Or commit to make more food at home and go to eat less.These small adjustments can help offset the additional financial burden that gasoline will have.
Save money on gas at the pump
From one station to another, prices vary. Save a few extra bucks on your budget by shopping around for the cheapest gas in town. You can achieve this by taking a quick drive or downloading a gas app.
Most gas apps work by asking users to enter their zip code and then displaying user-provided gas prices at various stations in that area and directions to the nearest gas stations. Popular gas apps include GasBuddy, Gas Guru, and AAA TripTik Travel Planner.
Some gas stations offer rewards and loyalty programs that can help you reach your budget goals at the end of the month. Exxon Mobil Rewards+ and Shell Fuel Rewards are two popular options, each offering savings at a rate of 3 cents per gallon.
Others offer discounts to customers who pay in cash. While it might be inconvenient, if it saves you money at the pump, now is the time to try this budget-saving strategy.
Finally, make sure your vehicle is well maintained to better fuel mileage possible.
Check tire pressure, replace spark plugs, and check your car’s alignment to save money on gas, and drive slower to avoid wasting gas when accelerating or braking abrupt. Even try to get things out of your trunk to reduce the weight of your vehicle.