Whether your finances are in dire straits, doing great, or are somewhere in-between, we can all improve our financial literacy. April is Financial Literacy Month, a great time to focus on improving your personal finances.
There are three clear ways to build your finances: save, earn, and invest. United Way of Southeast Louisiana is celebrating Financial Literacy Month this year by sharing tips that will save you money.
In this blog series, we will focus on ways to save money on gas. Most people had to make some hard choices at the pump last year when fuel prices skyrocketed. Our tips will help you save money now and weather challenges in the future.
Locator, Cash-Back, and Loyalty Fuel Apps
Some of my favorite childhood memories are road trips in the family station wagon. To figure out our route, my dad would always stop at the local AAA office and get a TripTik - the hard copy equivalent of a Google Map.
AAA would take an atlas or map and cut up pieces placed in a small spiral notebook. Then using a yellow highlighter, they would mark the path from your house to your destination. The kids in the backseat took turns flipping to the next section in the TripTik notebook, as we inched closer to our destination. In our car, the question of "Are we there yet?" was just a page flip away.
Planning is a big part of saving money on gas, whether it's a road trip to another state, your commute to the office, or your Saturday errands. Three types of apps can help you save every step of the way: locator, cash-back, and loyalty apps.
Locator Apps help you to find the best routes and gas station prices.
- AAA TripTik – The classic TripTik has gone 21st century! You can use it online or via the AAA mobile app. It allows you to plan an entire road trip, complete with stops at hotels, restaurants, attractions, and gas stations. The app allows you to find gas stations along your route, helping you choose the gas station with the lowest prices. You don't need to be a AAA member to use this app but some features are only available to AAA members.
- Gas Guru – With this app, you can save and label the gas stations you stop at most frequently so you can easily see up-to-date prices. You can then compare the prices of your favorite locations to see which one offers the best deal. This is a simple, user-friendly interface with very few ads. You don't even have to create an account to use it.
- Fuelio – This is a great app to help you find cheaper gas if you drive a lot. It also tracks your fill-ups, automatically records mileage via Bluetooth, and allows you to manage vehicle expenses, including trips to the mechanic, tolls, and parking fees. Keeping up with your car's maintenance is an easy way to save money on gas, and this app helps you to do that.
Cash-back apps will pay you money every time you get gas. Below are the top three cash-back apps:
- Gas Buddy – Gas Buddy is one of the original gas pricing apps. However, you can combine their app with a "Pay with GasBuddy Card," both of which are free to download and use. You'll need to enroll in the program, receive your card in the mail and link the card to your checking account. You can activate deals, swipe your card, and see your deals automatically applied!
- Upside – Upside is one of the newest and most heavily advertised gas apps. When you download the app, you'll see a map of all the offers nearby. The referral program gives you a bonus every time your referral makes an eligible purchase. Cash back can be redeemed for a gift card, direct deposit, or via PayPal.
- Checkout 51 – Checkout 51 is the app where old school meets new school. You will receive cash back on a variety of purchases, including gas, but you receive your cash back in the form of a check. You'll need a minimum balance of $20 to cash out, but when you do, the check will be in the mail.
Last but not least are loyalty apps. If there is a gas station you visit frequently, chances are there is a reward program that will benefit you. Don't confuse these programs with gas station credit cards, which create more debt. Below are a few programs to note:
- Shell Fuel Rewards – Most programs only let you receive rewards on fuel and convenience store purchases. The Shell Fuel Rewards program allows you to earn gas discounts at participating restaurants, online retailers, and live event tickets linked to your card.
- Circle K Easy Rewards – This easy to use program allows you to rack up points for every gallon of fuel you buy as well as snacks, food, and nonalcoholic beverages in Circle K stores. For every 2,000 points you earn, you'll save $2 at the pump.
- RaceTrac Rewards – RaceTrac Rewards can be used at all RaceTrac stations. To maximize your savings, sign up for RaceTrac Rewards and upgrade your membership to RaceTrac Rewards VIP. Pick up a RaceTrac Debit Card and connect the debit card to your bank account.
Now that you know about all these great apps, take this quiz to test your gas-saving knowledge.
See you next week, when you'll learn about how proper car maintenance can save you gas money!
Director of Financial Capability
United Way of Southeast Louisiana