If you’re like me – an Adult in Training with a car – fuel is one of your biggest expenses. Once I began tracking my spending with Wally I became more aware of my daily, weekly, and monthly expenditures and tried to cut down on my luxurious expenses (Cupcake Boutique’s Oreo milkshakes are the best in the land, but at 22 cedis a pop, I can’t be having one every week) as best as I could.
I found that it was more difficult to spend significantly less on the essentials – fuel, lunch, Apple Music. Yet it’s still possible to spend a little less on fuel every time you buy it, and savings do add up. Here are 5 things I do to minimize my monthly fuel expenditure.
- Embrace the dark – Traffic is not your friend. Every time you’re in traffic and it moves so you have to speed up and then jam on the brakes to close the gap so that the pesky taxi driver in the next lane doesn’t cross you, you’re being petty…and also burning fuel. There is considerably less traffic when the sun hasn’t fully come up (before 6am) and when it’s gone down (after 6pm), so consider driving before 6am and after 6pm if possible.
- Go cashlite – If you usually buy fuel with cash chances are you usually withdraw money every time you need to fill up. If this is the case, you’re using up fuel to buy more fuel, which isn’t very efficient. Some of the leading fuel stations in Ghana offer prepaid cards which can be loaded with cash and then used at any of the station’s outlets. Total has the Tomcard, Shell just launched EzyPass, which is Visa-enabled and comes with a 1% discount for every transaction), and GOIL has the Advantage card. While for the most part, using these cards doesn’t give you significant discounts and bonus/loyalty points, it means you don’t have to stop by the bank or the ATM every time you need fuel.
- Shop around for the best price – Shop for the best prices as you drive past fuel stations on your commute and on your lunch break. Or you can use FuelConnect, an app available on iOS & Google Play that lets you buy the cheapest fuel closest to you. FuelConnect uses your location to give you a list of the the closest filling stations (with directions if you need) and more importantly, the prices of their fuel.
- Make sure your car and its parts are in their best shape – Dirty air filters, under inflated tyres (when you notice a puncture or that your tire pressure is low, go straight to a tire shop and not to one of those roadside vulcanizers. Trust me, I learnt the hard way), worn out spark plugs, and the wrong fuel grade can decrease your car’s efficiency and increase its fuel consumption. Spend money on frequent servicing and on the right products and spare parts so you can spend less on fuel in the long run.
- Try carpooling with your co-workers – So you’re tired of waiting for 6pm when the traffic dies down. It’s 5:01 pm and you’re heading home after a long day of pretending to work. Instead of speeding off and leaving your co-workers in the dust, consider offering to take them along for a small token. I can guarantee that you will be able to take them at least 10% and at most 98% of the way (at my last job it took me 7 months to (mistakenly) find out one of my co-workers lived 4 streets away from me). If your co-workers are reluctant to pay up, tell them they are contributing towards the maintenance of your car and also paying to spend part of their evenings with you. Should you be friends with your co-workers? the jury is still out, but you can be car buddies with them and save money. Tell them they’re welcome 😉
Is fuel also one of your biggest expenses? What are your strategies for spending less on it?