silver mettalic color car refueling on night gas station - close-up with selective focus and blurry backgroundFuel costs are a sizable part of the budget for most families today. As a result, they have a direct impact on many families’ financial well-being and stress levels. Rising gas prices can increase the cost of commuting, traveling, and running errands, leaving less money for other essential expenses like food, housing, and healthcare.

If your family’s fuel costs eating into your budget, here are four ways to help save money on gasoline:

  1. Keep it clean. Keeping your car tidy can end up saving on fuel costs in the long run, but we aren’t just talking about running it through the car wash. For every 100 extra pounds you carry in your car, your vehicle loses 1% to 2% in fuel efficiency. For example, during baseball and softball season, it may be easier to leave all of the equipment, ice chest, and lawn chairs in the car, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you unload and store those things in the garage. In other words, don’t drive around with too much junk in the trunk (or back seat).
  2. Keep it maintained. A poorly maintained car engine can use more fuel. Underinflated tires can also hurt your fuel economy. Keep your tires properly inflated. Your owner’s manual can show you how.
  3. Mind the buttons. Did you know that onboard accessories can add to or subtract from your fuel efficiency? If you’re traveling on long stretches of flat highway, you may want to utilize your cruise control. Don’t speed. For every 5 mph you reduce highway speed — such as slowing down to 80 from 75 — you can lower your fuel consumption by 7%. If the weather is nice, try rolling your windows down instead of using the air conditioning. Simple choices can go a long way when it comes to saving money. For example, idling your car reduces your vehicle’s fuel economy. One easy way to cut fuel consumption is to avoid unnecessary idling.
  4. Do your research. Before going out to fill up your gas tank, take the time to compare the cost of gas at various stations in your area. In highly populated regions, it’s often easy to find a variety of prices, especially near major highways or higher-end neighborhoods. In fact, gasoline prices can vary by up to 10 cents per gallon or more even if stations are only a block apart! One useful gas-price comparison website: Do your research when buying a car, too. Buying a fuel-efficient vehicle can save you a substantial amount of money over the years.