Pumped Up About Low Gas Prices: 6 Ideas for Making It Count

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We’re all enjoying the benefits of lower gas prices. But have you stopped to think about how much you’re actually saving?

Compared to a year ago, it could be as much as $100, $150 or $200 a month!

Now ask yourself what you’re doing with all that extra cash. Are you spending it? Socking it away? Or just letting it sit in your bank account?

Even though it may seem small, no amount is too minor to impact your budget. So be proactive with your economic lucky streak and make it work to your advantage.

Here are six smart ways to save or spend your spare gas money.

If You Spend It

1. Knock out debts.

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This isn’t the most glamorous way to spend your money, we know, but it’s one of the smartest. If you have outstanding debt, use every extra penny you can find to get rid of it faster.

Think of it this way: The less you pay in interest now, the more money you save in the long run. And the more money you save, the more you can spend on fun activities later, like football season tickets, beachside villas or a paid-for hot tub.

Doesn’t that sound like the life?

2. Start a special date night.

It’s okay to have a little fun with this money! If your current idea of a date night is carryout pizza and a $1.50 movie rental, consider taking your sweetie out on the town for a change.

Now that you have some extra cash to tip a waiter and pay for a babysitter, pencil in a special date night each month to get away from it all. Improving your marriage is always a good investment.

3. Give it away.

If you’re out of debt and saving plenty, why not use this spare cash to bless others?

While a hundred bucks may not seem like much, it’s more than enough to buy several hot meals for a struggling family. Or how about buying diapers for that single parent at your work? There are tons of ways a small amount can turn into a huge blessing in someone’s life.

Related: 5 Steps to High-Impact Giving

If You Save It

4. Multiply your retirement.

This might be the world’s easiest way to multiply your money.

Here’s the equation: Combine your leftover gas money with your current retirement fund contribution, add your company match, and multiply it by however many years until you retire. That equals lots of cruises and golf games.

Need the hard numbers? If you put even $100 extra into your retirement account each month and leave it there for 20 years, it could turn into nearly $100,000! Keep it up, and your small bonus will go a long way toward building your nest egg. And that doesn’t even include the company match!

Related: Do These 3 Things to Optimize Your Retirement Investments

5. Boost your emergency fund.

If you’re out of debt but not quite ready to beef up your 401(k), now is a great time to restock your emergency fund.

Then, if your water heater dies in a few weeks or an icicle shatters your windshield, you’re covered. The unexpected will eventually happen. So let your savings at the pump pay for your peace of mind.

6. Jump-start a sinking fund.

Summer vacation is months away, but you always start saving too late. This year, get a head start by stashing your gas money in a vacation fund. By July, you’ll have a pile of cash saved for a debt-free week on the beach!

Or if your car is slowly starting to die, this is an easy way to boost your savings for a new-to-you beauty.

Need a third option? It’s never too early to start saving for Christmas!

Weigh Your Options

The best part about this list is you don’t have to pick just one option. You can mix and match smart spending and smart saving to fit your family’s financial situation.

Eventually gas will go up again, so take full advantage of the money you’re saving now. It could have a big impact on your budget.

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