Just when you thought it was safe to get back in your car and start going places again, gas prices started climbing.
Initially, the shortage was due to a lack of tanker truck drivers to deliver supplies to local filling stations. That could lead to some serious problems at the pump by Memorial Day and beyond.
CNN Business reports that as many as 20-25% of tankers are sidelined because there just aren’t enough qualified drivers to handle the big rigs. That translates out to a shortage of gasoline and higher prices, just as we enter the “summer fuel blend” part of the year that already causes gas prices to climb. (1)
But Wait! There’s More!
The recent cyberattack on a major US pipeline, stretching 5,500 miles from Texas to New Jersey, has interrupted the flow of fuel to the east coast. This pipeline accounts for roughly 45% of the gas supplies to the east coast. (2)
A brief interruption in the supply chain wouldn’t have much impact on availability or price, but if it continues — as it seems like it’s going to — we could be looking at some serious shortages — and price hikes.
And this isn’t even taking into account other potential causes for shortfall, such as hurricanes in the Gulf Coast or refinery fires.
10 Moves to Make Right Now
Prices are going to go up, almost certainly. The only question is, how much? As of this writing, gas futures jumped 3%, or about $2.217 per gallon. Assuming the cyberattack idles distribution, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start looking at various ways to save and ride this one out. Currently, the national average is $2.96 per gallon and climbing.
#1) Speaking of rides, consider ride sharing — carpooling — if you have a handful of friends or coworkers in the same neighborhood, all heading the same way at the same time. You can take turns with who drives and whose car you use, splitting the costs evenly. Even something as simple as going shopping with your neighbor can help cut costs. Why use two cars when one will do just as well?
Leave the Driving to Us
#1.5) For that matter, if your city has reliable mass transit — bus, train — you might consider leaving the car in the driveway and let someone else do the driving for a change.
Groceries and Gas
#2) Does your grocery store offer fuel points? Many do, saving you a dime per gallon for every $100 spent on groceries. And sometimes they run double fuel points specials. Your grocery receipt should tell you how many fuel points you’ve earned, but you’ll probably need to use them the same month you earn them, because sometimes they don’t roll over.
#2.5) Most filling stations have loyalty programs, offering discounts on gas prices. If you’ve been thinking about it but haven’t enrolled, this might be the perfect time to get off the fence.
All for One (And One for All!)
#3) Consolidate your trips. Instead of running a bunch of errands through the week, try to take care of all the errands that take you in the same direction that day. Plan your route accordingly, minimizing your drive time by figuring out the shortest distances between all of your points before you leave the house and avoid backtracking. You’re just wasting gas.
Even better, do as much of your shopping online as possible. You’ll probably find several deals and there may be free shipping.
Slow Down, You’re Movin’ too Fast
#4) It seems counterintuitive, but speeding — not taking your time getting to your destination — actually uses more gas. If your commute included 20 miles of highway time and you drive it at 60 mph instead of 70 mph, you’ll save about 1.3 gallons of gas over the workweek. That may not seem like much, but that’s probably $4-5 you’ve pocketed. (3)
#5) Even though we’re starting to see signs of life coming back, if you have a job where you can work from home, ask the boss if you can have one day to work at home. If anything, the pandemic has shown many jobs can be accomplished from home, so your boss may be agreeable to you and your coworkers having a telecommute day. (4)
The Price is Right
#6) Before you fill your tank, do your research. This doesn’t necessarily mean going from station to station, trying to find the best price. There are any number of apps that will do the legwork for you. Your best bet is probably gasbuddy.com. It has all the current gas prices in your area, and they update it regularly.
#6.5) Some days are cheaper for gas. If you’ve noticed this in your area, try to fill your tank at the same station on the same day each week. And don’t let the tank get down to empty. The more gas you need to fill it, the more it’s going to cost you.
And make sure you use the right fuel for your car. Most cars run just as well on “regular” as “premium,” so why pay the difference for something that doesn’t make a difference? (5)
She Runs Hot
#7) It may be time to have your car services. Something as simple as a tune-up — new points and sparkplugs, alignment, keeping your tires filled to the recommended pressure — can make a big difference in your mileage. Change the oil and filter, and make sure your air filter is clean. All of these things can impact the car’s fuel efficiency.
Size Doesn’t Matter
#8) Actually, in this case, it does. Given the option of driving the Escalade or the compact car, you should probably lean toward the smaller one. And if you’re a two-car family but one of you can drop the other at work and pick them up on the way home, consider taking just the one car.
#9) The old joke is, “Does your car have air conditioning?” and the answer is “4/80. All four windows down and driving 80 mph.” But there’s some real logic in that, because the A/C can quickly swallow up the gas. Unfortunately, keeping the windows down, especially on the highway, can add air drag and cause you to burn almost as much gas. But if you’re driving around town, keeping the windows halfway down, enough to keep the air circulating, should keep the car cool. And try to park in the shade whenever possible. This will help keep the car interior cool and help you fight the urge to crank the A/C. (6)
#10) If you use a credit card to pay for your gas, use one that offers cash rewards. You can use the extra points on something else down the line.
But let’s not kid ourselves. This could be a bumpy ride before it’s all over, and you might still be looking at some cash shortfalls because of the hike in gas prices (and you can probably expect food and other items that have to be trucked in to see prices climb). If that’s the case, Minute Loan Center has your back.
We offer a couple of options, either of which may be just what you’re looking for.
A). Our Installment Loan allows you to borrow money and pay it back in regular, monthly installments. Your monthly payment will always be the same.
B). MLC’s Line of Credit might be the right fit for you; if you live in Delaware or Utah. This is exactly what it sounds like: a line of credit, not a loan. So you can use as much or as little as you need, just like a credit card. You can use this for one big purchase or simple, everyday things like covering the cost of your weekly fuel purchases.
You’ll have access to your Line of Credit for one full year, even after you’ve repaid whatever amount you’ve already borrowed. The funds are still there and won’t go away until the end of your agreement.
For more information, visit our website at: www.minuteloancenter.com
1. Valinsky, Jordan. “Supply Chain Interrupted: Here’s Everything You Can’t Get Now.” CNN, Cable News Network, 9 May 2021, www.cnn.com/2021/05/08/business/supply-chain-shortages-pandemic/index.html.
2. Sigafoos, Stephanie. “Explainer: Will Ransomeware Attack on Colonial Pipeline Cause a Gas Shortage and Price Spikes?” Mcall.com, The Morning Call, 10 May 2021, www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-nws-colonial-pipeline-attack-gasoline-shortage-possible-20210510-ccycylaxq5b5rb44ddjqrkr7yy-story.html.
3. Editors, Reader’s Digest. “10 Ways to Save a Gallon of Gas.” Reader’s Digest, Reader’s Digest, 23 Dec. 2010, www.rd.com/article/10-ways-to-save-gas/.
4. Editors, Reader’s Digest. “10 Ways to Save a Gallon of Gas.” Reader’s Digest, Reader’s Digest, 23 Dec. 2010, www.rd.com/article/10-ways-to-save-gas/.
5. Max, Josh. “10 Ways To Save On Gas Right Now.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 29 Jan. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/joshmax/2020/01/28/10-ways-to-save-on-gas-right-now/?sh=4d356ed52961.
6. Uncredited. “10 Ways to Save Money on Gas.” PSECU, 30 Apr. 2021, www.psecu.com/learn/financial-tips-for-every-stage-in-life/2019/06/27/10-ways-to-save-money-on-gas#.