Fuel prices are going up, up, up. By this summer, the experts say gas will be above $4.00 a gallon. That doesn’t bode well for the summer vacation season. And for those on an already too-tight budget, a serious increase in gasoline prices can put more than a little cramp in their lifestyle.

Though we can’t do anything about the prices of gas, we can tweak our habits to make the impact of high fuel prices less severe.

Follow Prices

Keeping track of gas prices in your area will let you know when and where to fill up your car. I like www.gasbuddy.com to follow the gas prices in my area. I don’t necessarily drive all the way across town, so I can fill up with the cheapest fuel, but if I’m heading across town anyway, it’s worth it to make a stop where gas prices are low.

Make sure you take advantage of membership cards, too. Costco members can usually get good deals on gas, and often supermarket gas stations have special rates for their loyalty card carriers.

Fuel up when your tank is about 1/4 full. If you wait until your gas tank is empty, you’ll be forced to gas up at the nearest gas station, not the most economical.

Change Your Habits

Your driving habits can have a big effect on how much money you spend on fuel. If you run to the store everyday, you’ll be spending a pretty penny on gasoline. Try to consolidate your errand running to one or two days a week. Map out a route, so you aren’t driving back and forth across town. The more you consolidate your errands, the less you drive, and the more you save.

If you work outside the home, try to carpool or take public transportation. Sure, it costs money to take the city bus, but as fuel prices go up, bus fair becomes a better deal.

Riding your bike is another good option to save on gas, especially as the weather gets better. It’s great exercise, too!

Give Your Car a Checkup

Cars that are running well will burn less fuel than those in disrepair. Giving your car a tuneup can increase your gas mileage. At the very least, make sure your tires are inflated properly. Tires that are at the wrong tire pressure are known to greatly increase the rate of fuel consumption. If you’ve been putting off regular maintenance of your car, now might be a good time to get it done.

Extreme Gas Saving Measures

The last time gas prices rose to $4.00 a gallon levels, articles about buying fuel efficient cars and hypermiling seemed to explode.

While I’m not going to discourage buying a fuel efficient vehicle, don’t do it solely to combat today’s high fuel prices. Gas prices cycle up and down, and buying a Prius probably won’t be cost effective, if you’re doing it just for the gas savings. If you’re in the market for a new vehicle anyway, a hybrid might be worth your consideration. But don’t trade in your current car, if you weren’t planning on doing it before fuel prices went up.

Hypermiling is another word I’ve heard thrown around lately. Hypermiling is using driving techniques that give you the most miles per gallon. Unfortunately, unless you know what you’re doing, hypermiling might increase your chances of getting in a wreck, which would definitely negate any fuel savings you might see. Saving money is a good thing, but not at the expense of safety. Please drive carefully!