Gas Prices Hit 7-Year High: Here's How to Cope

by Maurie Backman | Published on Oct. 9, 2021

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Woman refueling her car at a gas station.

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Gas is an unavoidable expense for many. Here's how to compensate for higher prices.

It's hardly a secret that inflation has been running rampant for months, causing the price of many common goods to rise. And now, those who drive frequently may really be feeling the pain.

The price of gas recently reached a seven-year high. On a national level, the average price for a gallon of gas is $3.22 according to AAA. And that's the highest since October of 2014. Meanwhile, in some parts of the country, the cost of a gallon of gas is topping the $5 mark.

The tricky thing about rising fuel costs is that gas is unavoidable for most people. Anyone who has to drive to work must fill up their car. In fact, in many parts of the country, it's almost impossible to get around without a vehicle. So many people have no choice but to pay up.

If higher gas prices are hurting your wallet, here are a few steps you can take to better cope with them.

1. Plan your driving strategically

Many of us hop in the car without giving it much thought. But with gas prices being where they are, now's the time to plan your trips more carefully. If there's a grocery store you can stop at on the way home from work, do it if it saves you a few miles of driving. Mapping out your errands and landing on the most efficient routes could mean fewer fill-ups.

2. Carpool

Whether you use your car to get to your office, drive your kids to school, or haul your teenagers to soccer practice, chances are there are other people in your life with similar schedules and destinations. It pays to explore your options for carpooling while gas prices are high. It could save you not just money, but time as well.

3. Get a credit card that rewards you for fill-ups

Some credit cards offer generous rewards for everyday essentials like gas and groceries. If your cards don't offer much cash back for fill-ups, then it may be time to apply for a new credit card with gas rewards. Imagine you're currently getting 1% back at the pump, but there's a card out there that will give you 3% or 4% back. That could make a huge difference if you fill up your car multiple times a week.

4. Pick up a side gig

It may seem silly to get a second job just because gas prices are high. But remember, it's not just gas that's more expensive these days -- it's pretty much everything. And if you're having a difficult time covering your expenses, then taking on a side hustle could make it so you're less stressed financially. That said, the one side gig you may not want to get right now is driving for a ride-hailing service -- since gas is more expensive.

Unfortunately, the higher cost of gas is making it hard for many people to manage their bills. If you're being hurt by rising costs at the pump, don't resign yourself to going over budget and being forced into debt. Instead, do your best to find ways to cope with those increases until prices start to come down.

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