Tips to help beat the high cost of gas

On Guam, gasoline often plays a big role in our lives and our wallets, and there’s no way to predict how the cost of fuel will rise in the next few years. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your money and lowering expenses in the Auto & Gas category on your budget.

Consolidate your trips. It makes sense to run several errands at a time and save gas, rather than making multiple trips to and from your home. It just takes some smart organization: keep a notebook nearby or start a list on your phone, and keep track of the errands that you need to run as they come up. This can also be a good reason start using a day planner, or to search for software that can help you organize your life.

Start a hobby based at home or in your village. Sticking close to home can help you save on gas and help you rediscover playgrounds, beaches, shops, and restaurants in or near your village. You may also be able to walk or ride a bike to these spots, rather than jumping in your car and using gas.

In earlier columns we discussed learning culinary skills at home, along with gardening and landscaping, which are both enjoyable and can help you save money on food expenses. You can also go for jogs around your village, use a nearby community center, learn an instrument, take up woodworking, or explore any other hobby that both interests you and can be practiced within your community.

Remove extra weight from your car. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heavy items in your car can reduce your car’s fuel efficiency. Try to empty your car of heavy objects unless you need them specifically for your trip, and remove the racks and objects attached to the outside of your vehicle if you don’t intend to use them. By increasing your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, you save gas and money.

Keep your tires inflated to your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure. Another tip from the Department of Energy: keeping your tires inflated properly will give you better fuel efficiency. Just as you need to work harder to pedal an under-inflated bicycle, your engine works harder to keep your car moving with under-inflated tires. Prevent this from happening by keeping your tires inflated to the recommended amount.

Buy a fuel-efficient car. The best way to save on gas is to use a car that was designed with fuel efficiency in mind. On ww.fueleconomy.gov, you can compare cars in terms of fuel efficiency, using your current gas price.

The savings are clear: comparing a 33-combined MPG (miles per gallon) vehicle to a 20-combined MPG vehicle, a driver could save $1,250 annually on gas expenses using the vehicle with the higher MPG. (This assumes 15,000 miles driven per year, with 45% highway driving and 55% city driving, and a price of $4.28 per gallon.)

You can also consider a hybrid vehicle for fuel efficiency. Compared with the previous vehicles, a 50-combined MPG hybrid vehicle under the same conditions saved $650 in annual fuel costs compared to the 33-MPG vehicle; compared with the 20-MPG vehicle, the hybrid saved $1,900. Hybrids can be more expensive than some traditional cars, but you should also factor in fuel savings when comparing your options.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years experience in retail banking and with financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com.

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