If you're a gadgets aficionado, you've probably noticed how quickly you've come to depend on your smartphone, laptop, tablet and GPS to keep you connected while you get from place to place. But have you ever considered putting this technology to work for you at the gas station? Instead of using your gadgets to check your bank account balance after filling up your tank, you should use them beforehand to avoid higher-than-necessary fuel costs. Here we provide some tips on how you can branch out and use these technologies to slash the price you pay at the pump.
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Google Maps Navigation (Beta)
You probably learned long ago in geometry class that a straight line provides the shortest route from Point A to Point B. Even though streets aren't always straight lines, you shouldn't waste money driving extra miles when there's a more efficient route. Plus, sitting in traffic is always bad for your budget because even when you're not moving, you're still spending gas money. If you have an Android phone, Google Maps Navigation is a free tool that will help you get to your destination in the most efficient way possible. Moreover, this system includes a traffic view of your route. It even has voice guidance, so you can use it with your data plan as a substitute for your GPS.
GPS Navigation Systems
If you happen to be in the market for a new GPS device, you should consider buying one with real-time traffic data. If you buy a Garmin, traffic data is subscription-free. In addition, if you want to check for traffic incidents before you leave home, then TomTom's feed is a valuable resource. This online feature includes traffic data from 18 countries in addition to a route planner to help you avoid jams. Best of all, you do not need to own a TomTom GPS device to use this service.
For 99 cents, this iPhone app will help you monitor your car's fuel efficiency. As with most things in life, it's important to monitor your progress to see if you're improving or falling short of your goals. Accufuel tracks your car's fuel efficiency in miles per gallon, helping you to determine whether better driving or improvements to your car are having an impact.
This website exists to help people compare gasoline prices across the United States. The site features trip cost calculators, gas price charts and fuel savings tips. GasBuddy also has a free mobile application that helps users research local gas prices. When you're in the market for a tank of gas, this application can help you find the station with the best price in your area. You can also contribute to the database by submitting current prices at the stations you visit to GasBuddy.
This free social media application uses road maps, accident alerts, traffic reports and data to help users get where they're going as quickly as possible. Waze is compatible with iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian and BlackBerry. It's different from traditional navigation devices because is relies on community support, and it can also adapt to users' historical driving times. The app can be used anywhere in the world, but currently, complete base maps are only available in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Israel.
The Bottom Line
Rising gas prices are out of your control, but you can still find ways economize. At the very least, drivers can strive to be as efficient as possible and shop for cheaper gas. As with any type of saving or budgeting, cutting fuel costs is all about being resourceful and using the tools at your disposal - why not recruit your smartphone and other electronic devices to help?