Since gas prices in most parts of the country have once again dropped below $4 per gallon (the national average is currently just under $3.50 per gallon for regular unleaded), now is a perfect time to start what I call a "$4 a Gallon Savings Club."
The idea is simple: start "paying yourself" the difference between $4 and what you're now actually paying at the pump. So if gas is $3.50 a gallon, whenever you fill up, set aside that extra 50 cents in your "$4 a Gallon Savings Club" for every gallon you buy. In my case, my "Savings Club" physically consists of little zippered bag I carry in the car with me. I deposit the cash from time to time in a savings account I set up for that specific purpose.
I started doing this back in 2008 when gas hit $4 a gallon and then dipped back down again. What occurred to me was that when gas hits that magical four buck price tag, we all complain about it, but somehow we find a way to fit it into our budgets. More importantly, many of us change our driving habits and manage to use significantly less gas. Studies by AAA and others have shown when gas hits $4 per gallon, roughly two-thirds of Americans say they change their driving habits by consolidating trips, taking public transportation and driving slower and less aggressively. But once gas prices drop - you guessed it! - most people go back to their wasteful driving habits.
So, being the clever cheapskate , I figured if I continued acting like gas always costs $4 a gallon, even when it costs less, I'd condition myself to continue to drive more thoughtfully and frugally, and build a nice little nest egg at the same time. Since I started doing this, my "$4 a Gallon Savings Club" has grown to almost $2,000! What's more, when gas does hit $4 a gallon from time to time, I don't feel any extra pain at the pump, since I've been voluntarily "self-inflicting" the $4 pain on myself all along.
Of course, during times when gas actually costs $4 or more, I no longer make any new contributions to my savings club. But at least I can comfort myself during those times by frequently looking at the bank statements for my "$4 a Gallon Savings Club," and $2,000 worth comfort puts a big smile on this cheapskate's face.
Give it a try. Start your own "$4 a Gallon Savings Club" today.