Fourth Day of Flat Broke Christmas: Gas cards

17 Nov
gas-cards-survey3

Do you feel like this is where your entire paycheck goes?

On the fourth day of Christmas, Flat Broke Blog gave to me: Gas cards!

That special someone in your life may drive a dual-wheeled one-ton pickup truck with an exhaust system that wakes the dead. Or maybe he/she darts around in a tiny hybrid compact car that the truck could crush in two seconds.

Any potential gift recipient who owns a vehicle — no matter what it is — need gas. This is especially true for people who have multiple cars, drive gas hogs or have recreational vehicles like motorcycles and ATVs. People who live in rural areas who have little to no public transportation access REALLY need help with vehicle maintenance costs.

My dad falls into ALL of those categories.

Thankfully, gas prices are not the crippling $4 per gallon (or more) we saw in Summer 2008. While prices and rises vs. declines wildly vary among different states or regions, the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is now $2.65 per gallon. Prices have not skyrocketed, but they have gradually increased since the beginning of 2009. We also know you can practically predict where a tornado will touch down before we know what the price at the pumps will become. Extra gas money could really come in handy.

You can find a 24-month national average gas price chart here. GasBuddy.com offers state-by-state gas prices that will allow you to see what you, specifically, will have to pay for gas.

The beauty of gas cards is that they’re very similar to cash, as I had mentioned on the second day of Flat Broke Christmas. You can put as much or as little as you desire on the cards, but note that some companies have specific purchase increments. Just make sure the amounts on each person’s card is the same.

Some companies also allow you to purchase gas cards online, by visiting such sites as ShellGiftCard.com and ChevronTexacoGiftCard.com .

Here are some simple pointers if you choose to purchase gas cards for Christmas gifts:

  • Make sure your recipient actually owns some type of vehicle or at least regularly drives one he/she shares with someone else. Teenagers who borrow their parents’ cars are a good example of the latter.
  • Make sure the gas station from which you are buying a person’s gas card is actually located where they live. Your city may have a BP on every corner, but your recipient may not have one in his/her entire state.
  • Like other gift cards, make sure both you and your recipient knows when they expire. So much money is lost to unused gift cards of any kind!

This is a gift that could pay in dividends for the person for whom you are buying. You may spare them from having to pay for a week’s worth of traveling to, from (or for) work. Someone desperate to pay other bills wouldn’t have to worry about paying for both the bills AND gas as much.

Even moody teenagers who want to ride around in their 1985 Buick jamming to whatever crazy death metal techno gangsta rap they dearly love these days will have more time to, well, ride around jamming to crazy death metal techno gangsta rap. Sure, lots of kids are spoiled to death these days, but not all of them are. I can also recall being a 16-year-old having to scrape together 57 cents in gas that was enough to get my aging, mechanical nightmare, four-cylinder truck home. Gas was less than $2 per gallon, then. Those were the days, huh?

Keeping track:

One name draw and price limit

Two wads of cash

Three people asking me what I’d like

Four gas cards

Coming tomorrow: The fifth day of Flat Broke Christmas!

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2 Responses to “Fourth Day of Flat Broke Christmas: Gas cards”

  1. Amanda November 17, 2009 at 9:23 am #

    I remember when I got my license and gas was 98 cents a gallon. Great idea! Something everyone can use, and for people who live far away from loved ones, it could be a nice present to say, “hey, here’s gas to drive down and visit us.” Of course, my gift would probably get them to mid-VA and then they’d have to fill up on their own.

    • Jayne November 17, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

      What a perfect idea!

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