Friday, 1 August 2008

Money Matters #7 - Cutting Petrol Costs

There is no doubting it. Petrol prices are starting to really bite. It is hard to believe that at the time of Nugget's birth in April 2004, I documented that petrol prices has risen to a terrible $1.09c per litre. Shock. Horror. Can you imagine the queue at the petrol station if we could find it that cheap these days? This month Money Magazine asked its readers to send in tips on Cutting petrol costs. There were some good ideas that I thought I would pass on. Many thanks to Amelia, Bert, Tania, Michael, Paul and Bryan (whoever they are) for their ideas.

  • Plan ahead and combine multiple household tasks in one trip
  • Don't let your tank get down to empty so you are forced to go to the nearest petrol station (they may not be the cheapest)
  • Avoid idling - switch off your car if you are waiting for someone
  • Drive according to the conditions but as slowly as you can - if you double your speed, your fuel consumption is roughly quadrupled. Most vehicles deliver surprising petrol savings if you travel at 95-100km/h rather than 110km/h.
  • Close your windows (reduces drag)
  • Don't drive out of your way for a 'discount' - it probably won't be worth the drive
  • Convert to gas (rebate available) if you drive a lot and are planning to keep your car for a long time
  • Take advantage of fuel discount vouchers. Divide your purchases into $30 lots to obtain multiple vouchers. Don't shop at the majors? Buy your pre-paid phone and mobile phone credits there in order to get the fuel discounts.
  • Keep your supermarket discount dockets in your car.
  • Look out for increased fuel discount voucher offers and take advantage.
  • Double dip on fuel discounts, legally. Use Coles and Woolies fuel discount vouchers to obtain the discount. Use your fuel receipts to obtain a 4c per litre discount at the register at IGA. If you have multiple fuel receipts and divide your groceries into $30 lots, this equates to over 10% discount on your groceries! (I don't fully understand this as I don't shop at IGA but Bryan seems to think it makes sense?)
  • Be wary of service station marketing at point of sale. Why buy 2 or even one if you don't need? The 2 cokes for $4 suddenly makes your cheapest fuel dearer than the most expensive. 
  • If you have two vehicles, use the smaller one as much as possible
  • Walk your kids to school - it is good for your fitness and an opportunity to spend some quality time
  • Service your vehicle regularly (according to the maker's specs)
  • Keep your tyres at the manufacturer's recommended pressure for your vehicle
  • Remove excess weight and streamline your car as much as possible e.g. from the boot, roof racks
  • Take a good look at other transport options. Can you drive less? Can you ride, walk or use public transport?
  • Try to car-pool where possible
  • Get to know the pricing cycles in your area and buy petrol on cheap days (Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings usually). If you need fuel at the high point, buy only what you need.
  • Use to check petrol prices in your area
  • When you fill up, reset the odometer. This will provide you with a reliable indication of your economy. If you are getting poor fuel economy, consider an additive to clean your fuel system.
  • Brake only when necessary. If safe to do so, allow the vehicle to slow itself when approaching red lights.
  • Avoid stop-start traffic. Your car requires more power to accelerate from a complete stop.
  • Sell your car and walk (it's good for you!)

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