Ouch! Have you ventured out to the gas pump lately?
Hurricane Isaac has made landfall and we are all familiar with how the natural disaster plays out. The seas rise, the rain falls, the winds topple and the gas prices soar. In fact, prices jumped $.05 just today alone. Of course gas prices have been creeping back up all summer. The storm has merely hastened the inevitable.
As gas prices shoot into the sky, families seek ways to deal with painful trips to the pump. Everyone has their own strategy for dealing with their own gas budget, but undoubtedly some methods are more popular with families than others. Since I’m always curious with how my peers are dealing with their family finances, I thought I’d share the most popular techniques as reported by Nielsen.
Over 60 percent of households fight rising gas prices by cutting back on driving. They seek to make trips more beneficial by accomplishing multiple errands in single trips. They also try and reduce the number of regular trips made. Someone who might shop for groceries weekly can switch to every other week or monthly. It’s all about squeezing more into fewer trips.
Eat Out Less
Bad news for the food industry, families take aim at eating out when gas prices rise. Over 40 percent of families report making fewer trips to the family restaurant. Not without good reason.
Nearly 40 percent of the average family’s food expenses are made eating out. It’s a luxury for families and when cut, can yield a great deal of savings. The cost of eating out is more than food prices and preparation. Families need to use fuel to drive out to their favorite location. By eating out less, they also reduce gas consumption.
Use More Coupons
This method has risen to power only in the last year or two. However, nearly 40 percent of family’s report greater coupon usage in the wake of gas price increases. Why not? The rise of digital coupons has made finding savings in the form of little pieces of paper easy and more available. Often, you can find a few dollars in savings in a matter of minutes.
Buy Generic Brand Groceries
Nearly 30 percent of families choose to sacrifice brand loyalty on the altar of savings. Personally, I find it surprising that this option isn’t more popular. Apparently advertising is so effective that families will change driving behavior, eating behavior and coupon clipping behavior before buying a no-name brand.
I suppose to some degree, this list makes my family average. We try and drive more efficiently as prices eat more and more of our budget. We shop more at the grocery store that is in walking distance five houses away. We’ve also sought out closer bike trails than the ones we prefer. I know my wife works hard to entice the children with a walk to a local playground instead of driving out to a zoo or museum.
However, my family has long tightened the food budget, there’s not much money to be saved from eating out less, couponing or switching brands, because we are already doing it. If you were to ask me to prioritize this list I’d say, look to generic brands first, cut back on eating out second, make driving more efficient third and cut coupons fourth.
What about you? How does your family deal with rising gas prices? How do you think average families should conquer the pump pain?