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How to cut costs and save money at the pump

Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014 at 9:43:42 AM

Owning and operating a vehicle isn't a minimal expense. However, there are a number of ways in which drivers can keep their costs down. Today, one of the biggest concerns is fluctuating fuel prices, and avoiding pain at the pump can be tough if the right steps aren't taken beforehand. According to Kelley Blue Book, there are plenty of energy-efficient options out there for those looking to save on gas.

Whether you are interested in affordable auto financing and buying a new, energy-efficient vehicle or maximizing your time between fill-ups in your existing ride, figuring out how you can prepare will help you save money in the long run. Recently, Home Loan Investment Bank's Christine Dikdan offered some tips and tricks to cut back on these costly fuel expenses.

"Keeping fuel costs low starts with driving consistently," she explained. "That means no rapid acceleration or sudden braking unless necessary. My son used to drive his truck up large hills while punching the gas until he read the miles-per-gallon at eight, when it normally gets 17."

You can also pay attention to deals in your area. For example, Dikdan pointed out that Cumberland Farms offers a 10 cents reduction per gallon if you used an in-house debit card to make the purchase. At Stop and Shop, you can earn savings via a points system when buying goods in the supermarket. 

"Another avenue is carpooling to work or social events," she added. "Myself - I walk, bike and go rollerblading wherever I can on the weekends to avoid getting in my vehicle, unless it's necessary. The bonus here is savings on gas and vehicle wear and tear. The double bonus is fresh air and fitness for free."

You can also pick out a certain vehicle that suits your gas-saving desires. Dikdan noted that hybrid and electric cars can be a solid option, but plugging in these vehicles to charge brings its own set of expenses. So, make a pros and cons list and determine if these costs outweigh those associated with fuel.

As a final step to cut back on your monthly expenses, you may want to look closer at your insurance policy. While not the best step for everybody, you could reduce your insurance deductible to save money up front. 

"If you are not financing a vehicle - and it is relatively inexpensive - you may consider dropping collision coverage," said Dikdan. "Keep in mind if that insurance claim does happen - you will have to shell out more money. If you are on a very strict monthly budget, this may not be the move for you."

Overall, looking into insurance, auto financing and premiums can open more avenues for cost savings. But, like everything, there are pros and cons, so do your research ahead of time.