THE HIGH COST OF GAS - YET AGAIN

Time to revisit one of my favorite subjects, gas prices, more specifically the volatile nature of gas prices.  Because sticker shock is in play again.  What can we do?

Following is a graph of the average monthly price of regular gasoline in the US from June 2008 through April 2011:

Notice the high prices in June and August, 2008, followed by the plunge that coincides with the recession.  Then a period of relative stability.  Now, rising prices approaching the highs in the summer of 2008.

AAA is attributing the sustained increases at the pump to rising crude oil prices, a weaker U.S. dollar, and continued political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa.  Whatever the reason, or  wherever the prices are heading, there are steps that can be taken to relieve the pain of high gas prices.  In prior blogs I purported the advantages of high mileage cars.  Also, keep your vehicle properly maintained especially the tire pressure.  What else can be done?  Well I have taken the art of gas savings yet a couple of steps further.

GIFT CARDS

This may not be available in all sections of the country, but where I live there are supermarkets that  sell gas.  They have programs that provide gasoline discounts for purchasing products from their stores including gift cards.  So the next time a trip is planned,  buy an airline gift card, a few restaurant gift cards, and even a hotel gift card.  Use the gift cards and reap the gasoline rewards.  Better yet, travel on business and get reimbursed for the travel and reap the rewards for free.  I do a bit of business travel so I am able to utilize this more than most.  Too, I have used gasoline rewards from gift cards on such big ticket items such as recarpeting my house and  electronics.  A friend who owns his own business uses them for all of his office supplies.  Buying a big screen HD TV?  Buy a gift card first.

CREDIT CARDS

I use a particular credit card based on the vendor.  For instance, I will use a specific retailer's credit card when making a purchase from that retailer because they generally provide extra perks when using their cards.  Most gasoline cards give a 5% rebate when using their card at their establishment and a 1% rebate everywhere else.  I always use a gasoline card when purchasing fuel on a business related rental car. So when gift cards are not available, use a credit card that provides rebates.

Using these two programs, I haven't paid at the pump  for my personal car since last December, and that covers approximately 10,000 miles.  Time to go everyone so keep on truckin'.
 

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by Chris Wood, CPA - Chris Wood is a CPA with experience in Big Four, large regional and local public accounting firms. Write to the good Captain on everything under the sun concerning the captivating world of Excel!

 

 

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