by Maurie Backman | May 16, 2021
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Gas prices are soaring. Here's how to cope.
For many of us, gas is an essential expense. But following the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, many East Coast states have grappled with a major gas shortage. And in the spirit of classic supply and demand laws, that's driven the price of fuel way up. Many drivers are paying $3 a gallon or more to fill up their cars, and it's hurting a lot of people's budgets. If you're struggling with high gas prices, here are some steps you can take to ease the pain.
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Though gas prices tend to rise and fall regionally (and, often, nationally), individual gas stations still dictate their own prices. Filling up at the right station could spell the difference between overpaying substantially or paying less. To this end, it helps to do some research. Apps like GasBuddy look at gas prices in your neck of the woods so you can identify those stations that deal the least-harsh blow to your wallet. Remember that driving around town to find the cheapest gas prices costs you money, because you use fuel to do so. You're better off researching at home ahead of time.
You may be in the habit of jumping in the car to run errands at random. But when gas prices are soaring, that can be hard on your wallet -- you could end up making extra trips that cost you a lot. A better bet? Map out your trips and errands at the start of the week, and combine them where possible. For example, if your local supermarket is 10 miles away, but you pass it on the way home from work, do your food shopping then, rather than coming home, doing some stuff around the house, and then going back out for groceries.
Using a credit card won't lower your gas price up front. But the right credit card can reward you generously for filling up on gas. If you don't already have a credit card with great gas rewards, it pays to apply for one quickly. You may find that in addition to cash back on gas, you also get cash back on other purchases you make on the regular.
Rising gas prices are never fun, and as we head into the summer, they could mess up a lot of people's plans. If you're paying more at the pump, take a close look at your budget and see if there are other costs that you can cut back on to compensate.
You might think that paying a few dollars extra for gas here and there isn't a big deal, but over time, it could hurt you -- and if you're living paycheck to paycheck, it could even land you in debt. By being mindful of your spending across the board and using these tips, you can avoid a serious hit to your finances due to inflated gas prices beyond your control.
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