WTAJ — In January, the U.S. reached a 40-year high with inflation rising to 7.5%. While many restrictions from COVID-19 are gone, food and gas prices have increased.

The average cost for a gallon of gas as of March 18 is $4.27 according to AAA. With the spike in gas prices, the financial concern may be weighing on many people’s minds. However, there are many options for saving a buck at the pump and reducing costs.

Get cashback on fill-ups with a rewards credit card

While it’s not great spending over four dollars on gas, fuel reward credit cards can help in the long run with the rising cost at the pump. Most popular credit cards, such as Discover, Citi, Bank of America, and PNC offer a range of cash back up to 5% on gas and groceries.

Fuel points programs

Sign up for a fuel points program. Many gas stations and grocery stores offer fuel perks as part of their rewards program. Sheetz, a well-known gas station throughout Central Pa. offers three cents off per gallon for each fill-up. You can also gain points for free items and discounts by using your Sheetz rewards card on in-store purchases.

Similarly, at Rutter’s, you can save three cents per gallon, as well as have access to their VIP Deals, which range from discounts to free items.

At Martin’s, you’ll save $0.10 a gallon for every 100 points you earn, which could eventually lead to 25 gallons worth of free gas!

GetGo, which is a part of Giant Eagle, can save money with their Advantage Card. Any time you get gas or shop at Giant Eagle or MarketDistrict, you’ll earn one perk per dollar you spend. For gas though, you’ll get two perks per gallon of fuel, which can get can save you up to $0.10 cents for every 50 perks, up to 30 free gallons.

Store membership

Stores like Sam’s club that require memberships also offer perks that can save you money. Having a club membership gives you access to their gas station which is often cheaper than other places. There are also in-store benefits that on products and services.

Compare gas prices in the area

Utilizing apps like GasBuddy or Gas Guru, can help keep money in your pocket. Gas prices are constantly changing. The cheapest place the last time you filled up may not be anymore. These apps help track the price of gas in your area so you can spend less.

Investments

According to a report by LendingClub, 61% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. However, if you’re looking for more than short-term savings, investing is one way to do that. The stock market is the number one way Americans save for long-term goals according to NerdWallet. It’s important to have a detailed understanding of your income and expenses when you’re building an investment plan.

Leave your 401K alone

If you dip into your 401k too early it can cost you now and in the future. According to Nerdwallet, the IRS requires a 20% withholding on taxes of whatever you take out early. Plus, if you are under the age of 59 and a half, you’ll be penalized during your next tax season, which could turn into thousands of dollars in taxes.

For those who have retired, Fidelity suggests you should only take between 4-5% of your savings in your first year of retirement. Moving forward, you can adjust those numbers for inflation.

Open a savings account

If you’re not already utilizing a savings account, it’s never too late to start. For those who have direct deposits from their workplace, you can also add a percentage of your income to a linked savings account. If you’re unsure of how much to deposit, start small. This is how you can start saving without even trying.