My car was pretty low on fuel last week so I stopped at a garage to fill up. Five minutes later I was horrified to find out that it now costs me over R600.00 to fill up the tank in my car! My car uses unleaded 95, which I know is more expensive than both unleaded 93 and diesel, but still! Unleaded 95 is now over R16.00 a litre. That’s a lot! And R600.00 is a lot to pay for a tank of fuel.


With all the increases in fuel prices over the last couple of months, more and more of us are feeling the pinch.


Both my husband and I have always been mindful of saving on our monthly fuel cost. Yes, saving on our household expenses is a priority for us, but we also don’t like to waste. Anything. Not even fuel. I think of our environment, and our planet, and I shudder at the thought, or rather the fact, that so many of us everywhere have become so reliant on fuel just to make a living going to work each day, for example. I so wish cycling to work was an option for me, but distance is an issue in my case.


At any rate, we are now going to have be even more careful about how much we spend on fuel. We do a lot as it is to try and keep our fuel cost as low as we possibly can. Here are just some of our tips. My husband is the car buff in our household, and I’ve learnt so much from him over the years about driving economically. Not only that, we’ve found that all of these tips really do help in the long term, if you implement them on a daily basis.


Share the costs of travel

Do any of your colleagues live close by? Or any of your friends who also happen to work in the same area as you? Then perhaps you can travel together on certain days of the week and share the fuel costs. I do this as often as possible, and in fact I wish it was possible more often! It’s always so nice having company in the car as we get to chat on our commute, which makes the lengthy drive more pleasant.


Avoid driving in rush hour traffic

If at all possible, leave for work a little bit earlier, to avoid rush hour traffic. Sometimes for me that means leaving just 10-15 minutes earlier than I normally would, and the drive to work becomes a breeze! In start-stop traffic in the mornings, or afternoons, your car consumes more fuel. It does the same if it’s idling for long periods of time, as is often the case during rush hour.


Be careful how you drive

Don’t speed. The road to work is not a race track. Sudden accelerating and sudden braking increases your car’s fuel consumption, and should be for emergencies only. Avoid unnecessary revving as well. Your car is at its most fuel efficient when cruising between 80km/h – 100km/h. There is also no need to keep your foot on the gas pedal if you are driving down a slope, and likewise, accelerate before you get to an incline so you don’t have to push the car to great lengths for it to go up the hill.


Plan your trips

Running errands doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. If you have several errands to run on any particular day, plan your trip in advance using Google Maps or a GPS. That’s what we do. Choose the shortest routes whenever possible, and try to get as many errands done along the way as you can. Also, pay your bills online to avoid unnecessary trips, or if you must pay any of your bills over the counter, plan to do so while you are out and about.


Meal Plan

This is definitely one area where you can save quite a bit on your monthly fuel cost. If you meal plan for the month ahead, and buy as much groceries as you can to last you and your family until next pay day, you will avoid frequent trips to the shops during the month. That’s what we do. If we need to top up fresh produce or possibly milk and bread (although we mostly make our own bread at home), I do that on our way home from work, for example, to minimise the cost.


Look after your car

Servicing the car when it’s due for its annual service means that your car will be running at its optimum, as it should, at all times. Your car’s fuel efficiency will also be at its optimum. Budget for your annual car service so that you can afford to pay for a good and reliable service to ensure your car is well looked after and its component parts are all running smoothly. Also remember to keep your tyres at the correct pressure at all times.


Fill up smart

Make the most of loyalty programmes and rewards when filling up with fuel.

Standard Bank UCount Rewards at Caltex

Use your Standard Bank Debit or Credit card to pay for your fuel at Caltex, if you are a participating UCount Rewards member at R20 a month. Have a look at how much you can get back, depending on the Tier rewards you qualify for here. You can also use your UCount Rewards debit card to pay for fuel at Caltex.

Dis-Chem Loyalty Card at TOTAL

Swipe your Dis-Chem Loyalty Card at Total service stations (for every litre you fill up, you’ll earn Dis-Chem Loyalty Benefit Points).

Clicks Club Card at Shell

Use your Clicks Club Card to fill up at Shell service stations (for every litre you fill up, you’ll earn a Click Club Card point). Bear in mind that this loyalty reward is only active at some Shell garages – check the list of participating Shell garages here, and I do hope there is a participating Shell garage close to you.

Edgars THANK U card at ENGEN

Swipe your Edgars Thank U card before you make your fuel purchases at ENGEN (for every litre of diesel or unleaded you fill up, you’ll receive 150 Thank U points).


What are some of your favourite fuel saving tips?


If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, please share it with others!

You can also find Frugal in SA

on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or subscribe to my Weekly Newsletter.