Mar 3, 2010

Reducing Your Gasoline Bill (Carole)

In nearly every city there is one grocery store chain that offers a discount on gasoline based on the amount of money you spend at their store.  In our town it is Albertsons.  Where my in-laws live, it is Smith's.  It usually works something like this:  for every $50 you spend on groceries, you get $.05 off a gallon of gasoline (up to 20 gallons) when you purchase from their affiliated gas station.  This by itself isn't that amazing of a deal, since I can usually beat that 5 cent savings just by going to Sam's Club to buy gas.  But there are additional ways...
Using Coupons:  The required $50 spent on groceries is calculated on the cost of your groceries BEFORE your coupon savings are subtracted from your bill.  So, if you've figured out how to use coupons STRATEGICALLY (which I will cover in the next few weeks), you can spend very little cash on food and still qualify for the gasoline savings.  The savings are cumulative: when you spend $100 on groceries then you save 10 cents every gallon, $150 then you get a 15 cent savings.  Those kinds of savings are worth driving past any other gas station.  If you are spending a few hundred dollars each month on groceries, you can usually get one tankful of gasoline for just about free each month.  Pretty nifty.

Buying Gift Cards:  Nearly every large grocery store chain sells its own store gift cards.  Often (especially during the holidays) they will load on an extra $10 - $30 with a $100 grocery gift card purchase.  There also isn't a gift card fee for their own store cards (unlike when you buy a VISA gift card).  You can buy YOURSELF a grocery gift card  (aren't you thoughtful!) and use it for your upcoming trips to the store.  And gain an extra $10 - $30 in free groceries.  AND all of those free groceries add to your gasoline savings.

Store Specials on Register Tape:  Look on the back of your register tape and occasionally (more often than you'd guess) the store is offering DOUBLE gasoline savings.  So, instead of a 5 cent discount on every gallon, you'll get a 10 cent discount.  Way to go!

Other Gift Cards:  And lastly, if you know you're going to be going out to dinner at Chili's or Red Lobster or wherever, and your grocery store sells gift cards to these restaurants, buy yourself a gift card.  This way your evening out (with your coupon, of course!) also adds to your gasoline savings.  The same holds true for ANY gift card you buy at the grocery store -- Old Navy, Bed Bath and Beyond, Southwest Airlines. . .  Take a look at the gift card rack and see where you shop anyway, and give your gasoline budget a breather!

Check your grocery store web site for all their rules.


Packrat said...

I will second you idea of purchasing gift cards for yourself - for more reasons than just earning more gas coupons. These come in so handy and have "saved" me several times - like when I have needed a gift but didn't have time to shop, when I have forgotten my checkbook (pre-debit card days) or worse when we were in line with a huge basket of groceries, my husband has suddenly remembered that he used the debit card to make a big business purchase but forgot to enter it in the checkbook.

Our "local" Safeway gas station (using the Safeway card) has a 3 cent discount all the time which makes gas almost always less than Costco or even at the tribal gas station. Albertson's used to do this, quit, and then started again

Your ideas work well for those who live in town. This will only work occasionally for us since we live eighty miles from the nearest "city". Usually, the coupons have expired by the time I get back to "town". But, I do try to take advantage of these discounts every chance possible.

The Liddells said...

I'm going to have to figure out which grocery store does that here in TX. It's probably HEB, but I'm not sure. Definitely something I'd like to figure out!