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Petrol and Diesel Prices Reach a Record High

Over the past couple of years we have seen petrol and diesel costs increase dramatically and prices are predicted to reach record highs this year.  This is due to a number of factors including the increased cost of crude due to continuing tensions in the Middle East and oil producing areas and increases to fuel duty imposed by the Government here in the UK. The UK has the highest tax on fuel in Europe, and due to the current economic climate it is unlikely to be reduced.  Fuel costs can be significantly higher in rural locations making it an ‘affordable necessity’.  Here we have a few tips on how to save money on your fuel bill.

 

Use Alternatives

Look at where you need to go, if it’s only a few minutes down the road and the weather is nice why not walk?  You’ll get some exercise and fresh air, and save yourself some money. Just by doing the walk two or three times a week will increase your fitness levels and will be cheaper than going to the gym.  Alternatively if you own a bike why not use it, you will be able to go further afield and if you need to do a bit of shopping then why not invest in a backpack to put it in.

If you are over 65 years of age, you will be entitled to a free bus pass or reduced fares.  Why not use the bus for free instead of wasting your money on petrol and having to pay for parking at the other end?  This is a sensible option if you are not under time constraints, as you will have to fit in with a pre-determined timetable, rather than having the flexibility of your four wheels.

Companies like National Express offer reduced rates for the over 65s, that generate great savings. My mother lives in Harrogate and for her to drive down to visit us usually costs about £60 in petrol, plus the wear and tear on her car.   Occasionally, she has taken the bus down to see us and never paid much more than £20 return.  We have to pick her up and drop of at a certain location but it still works out to be a lot cheaper than her driving down.  Rail companies also offer special deals for the over 65s making it a lot cheaper than you think to travel.

Savings for those under 65 are also possible on both coach and rail journeys nationwide, if you take the time and trouble to research your journey and book in advance.  By travelling “off peak” fares can come down considerably, even on local journeys.  Again, if you can be flexible then you can make greater savings.

 

Car Share 

If you travel to work at the same time each day and someone down the road does exactly the same why not travel together.  By taking it in turns to drive alternate weeks, your normal monthly spend on fuel will be halved and if you have to pay for parking then that will be halved too.  If you can find three other passengers, then you can cut your monthly outgoings on fuel and parking by 75%.

Companies and councils are trying to encourage more people to car share, not only to protect the environment, but by getting more cars off the road making morning and evening commutes more tolerable. Companies have also started to give preferential parking spaces to people who car share and to be more flexible on shift workers, making sure you work the same shift each time.

The Way You Drive

It goes without saying that when you drive fast you use more fuel – by sticking to speed limits your fuel consumption will go down.  Accelerating and decelerating quickly not only uses more fuel but is bad for your car’s internal workings.  Studies have shown that since the increases in fuel costs and fuel duty, drivers have begun to reduce their speed on motorways across the UK, thereby conserving fuel and saving money.

Economical Car?

With so many different makes and models available access to the most fuel efficient engines as never been greater. If you are thinking of changing your car, then consider the types of journey you usually make, the number of passengers you usually have on board, the amount of equipment/luggage you need to carry etc., and investigate what type of vehicle would be best for your requirements. Research the different types of fuels available from LPG to electric/hybrids.  Look at your insurance premiums and the cost of Road Tax – some cars are now exempt!

 

Budgeting 

Give yourself a budget each month of how much you should spend on fuel.  This will help you focus on how much you use your car.

Congestion/Toll Charges

With London introducing the Congestion Charge, other cities are likely to follow suit. Work out the cost of your journey including any congestion or toll charges – they might not seem expensive as a one off but if you have to pay on a daily basis the amount will add up!

London public transport offers an Oyster card system which covers most bus, train and tube routes which will save you money as an alternative to paying for parking, fuel and congestion charges.   These cards give you unlimited travel 7 days a week.

Sometimes using a toll road can be worthwhile.  Take the M6 for example.  Around Birmingham, there is a “Toll” and “non-Toll” section of motorway.  The “Toll” part of the M6 is hardly used, whereas the non-toll section is nearly always very busy.

So the best way to save money on fuel is to change the way you drive – keep within speed limits, look at alternative forms of transport, including your feet or pedal power, and if you can, then plan ahead and be flexible.

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