The price of gasoline has spiked in recent years. When I was in high school, gas cost less than $2 per gallon. (Am I revealing my age?) These days, I feel lucky when I spot gas for less than $3.50.
Throughout 2013, the national average retail price for self-serve, regular-grade gasoline ranged between $3.20 per gallon to $3.72 per gallon, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report, which surveys 120,000 gas stations across the country.
Meanwhile, the average American drives 13,476 miles every year, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. Assuming drivers get 28 miles per gallon, they're buying 481 gallons of gasoline per year -- at a cost of roughly between $1,500 and $1,800 annually.
That's a lot of money spent, and it can wreck your budget. How can you save on the high cost of gasoline? Here are a few tips.
Buy gift cards. Go to sites such as Plastic Jungle or Gift Card Granny and buy a discounted gift card for a gasoline station. These sites sometimes sell cards from major companies like Shell and BP.
Use gas reward cards. Some companies offer credit cards with gas rewards, but I recommend skipping those credit cards and their high interest rates. Instead, use a reward card from a grocery store. Kroger, Winn-Dixie and Safeway are among the many grocery stores that offer gas reward points to their customers.
Fill up on the cheapest days. Track gas prices in your neighborhood and fill up on days when the cost is likely to be lower. You likely will find the cheapest prices on Wednesday and Thursday mornings before 10 a.m., according to Chris Faulkner, the CEO of Breitling Oil and Gas. He made the comment in an interview with Forbes magazine. Try to avoid high weekend prices.
Use smartphone apps. Helpful apps like GasBuddy or AAATriptik list the lowest gas prices in the area. Use these apps to get great deals on gas and avoid overpriced stations.
Pay cash. Some gas stations charge a premium for using credit cards to pay for gas. Skip that extra charge by paying in cash instead. You could see savings as high as 5 cents per gallon, according to Forbes.
Paula Pant helps people ditch the cubicle and live on their own terms. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units and hasn't had an employer since 2008. Her blog, Afford Anything, is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say, "I can't afford it." Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.