10 Creative Ways to Save Money on Gas on Road Trips

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10 creative ways to save money on gas for travel

I just absolutely LIVE to travel but if you’re anything like my family our budget is tight and there’s just simply not a ton of wiggle room for extra fun like traveling! Believe it or not gas is a pretty big cost for a long road trip but with these creative ways to save money on gas you’ll have a head start! We offset costs by taking advantage of credit card rewards for hotels and such but gas is just one of those areas where your expenses are pretty set and you can’t rely on a promotion or freebie to get you by!

Over the past 10 years of packing in summer road trips, however, we have gotten pretty creative at coming up with ideas on how to offset costs of travel,, predominately when it comes to paying for gas by diligently pre-planning! Not all ideas necessarily save money on gas, but these are some creative ideas on how to set aside money to pay for gas on road trips throughout the year!

1. Take advantage of summer gas promotions!

One way that we saved tons of money on our road trips is by taking advantage of the “Great Summer Walmart Gas Roll Back” promotion which takes 10-15 cents off PER gallon of gas when you use a Walmart Card at Murphy USA! (not eligible at Murphy Express stores) We just planned our summers to stock up on Walmart gift cards to use for gas which you can of course save up to buy all year round! (or you can of course use a Walmart credit card) If you have a grocery store like Hy-Vee that does Fuel Savings you can also save money on gas that way!

2. Set up another bank account.

Saving up for a vacation or just traveling to visit family can be difficult during the year when budgets are tight because no matter how much you might be able to set aside there is always some big catastrophe that comes up that you end up using your money for instead! Whether your animals have a horrible case of fleas and they need to go to the vet or you need new tires on your vehicle,  somehow vacation budgets tend to disappear almost quicker than you can save them!

To help combat this problem we’ve opened up a completely separate savings account at a completely different bank than the rest of our finances are at which is strictly for our vacation budget. Nothing comes out of that account unless we are paying for our travels. The further away the bank is, and the harder to get your money out, the better! Whether you add in an extra $5 or stash away your birthday or holiday money there this is a fabulous way to make sure you don’t touch your vacation savings!!

3. Have an envelope in the house designated only for travel funds.

If I just leave “extra” money in my wallet until I get around to the bank to depositing it for our gas fund, chances are it will get spent before we make it to the bank! So what I do is have a specific envelope or piggy bank that can ONLY be touched if using money for our vacation or gas fund! This is a great way to get the kids involved in helping you save up too if it’s a family trip!

Any spare change they find on the floor, in a parking lot, or that extra buck or two you’ve got laying around goes in this envelope or piggy bank until you take it straight to the bank to deposit! This option takes a little bit of a stronger will not to spend it though so don’t leave the money in your house too long!

4. Pre-buy gift cards all year long.

One creative way that you can be assured not to spend  your vacation cash or gas fund it by pre-purchasing Visa gift cards or other gas gift cards during the year. Put the gift cards in your travel envelope (or safety deposit box!) and it’s much more difficult (and guilt ridden!) to spend your travel fund for purposes other than your vacation!

If you’ve saved a little money on your grocery budget for the month buy an extra $25 gift card to put towards your gas fund! Get an extra holiday gift card for spending so much money at the grocery store? Yep – you know where to put it!

5. Keep all single dollar bills and coins for your gas fund!

Anytime you pay cash for anything at all during the year (groceries, movie night, pet supplies, etc.) save every single dollar bill and all coins and put in your piggy bank for your gas fund! If you’re very diligent during the year that extra buck or two that you would have probably frivolously spent anyway will quickly add up to quite a robust fund for your gas tank! Only single dollar bills and coins though! Once you start living this way throughout the year it will become a habit that will pay off when it comes time to travel!

6. Work extra for gas!

That may sound a little funny, but do some type of extra work during the year specifically to fund your gas expenses! Whether it’s doing a yearly garage sale, tutoring someone once a week in the summers, reselling thrift store finds, walking dogs, doing surveys online, selling something on Etsy, etc. there are a zillion ways to earn an extra few bucks which can easily be applied to your gas fund!

7. Annually recheck expenses and save the savings.

Every year we sit down and look at all of our recurrent expenses (car insurance, life insurance, health insurance, cell phone bills, etc.) and we shop around to see if we can save money anywhere or get a better deal. If you CAN beat the price you’ve been paying, pay yourself the extra savings right into your gas fund each time your make a payment! You can also trim down on holiday expenses, request gift cards for gas as gifts, etc. to stretch that budget.

8. Set up an auto deposit each month.

You may not have much money to spread around but you can set up an auto deposit from your normal checking account into your secret gas fund account that you don’t touch except for travels. If it automatically comes out you don’t have to worry about forgetting or justifying spending the money elsewhere! It can be as little as $5 each month ($60 per year!) or $20 per month ($240 per year!).

9. Look at all your options!

Not often, but once in a while it’s actually cheaper to take a train, public bus, or other mode of transportation than it is to actually drive! We’ve snagged bus tickets for just $1 each which was perfect for a short weekend stay and I’ve seen train tickets for well under $50 if you’re willing to travel during the night or during off times.

10. Use credit card rewards.

Do you research and find a credit card company that you can either use reward points towards gas directly or that you can use reward points to purchase gift cards for gas! We save an insane amount of money doing this specifically for hotels and airline tickets but you can apply this to gas rewards as well! If you know you are going on a particularly long trip many gas stations also have special promos to save $.20-$.35 cents off per gallon during a certain time frame which may be worth looking into and cancelling later!

Check out our popular travel article on How to Afford ANY Vacation as LOW as $20/month!

 How to Afford Any Vacation

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