Gas Money

Gas money.

The inevitable question for carpools, shared rides, and mooching roommates. Do you give your friend who picked you up for the movie a couple of bucks for gas? Do you hand your sister $5 for driving you out to the family reunion? Is it even appropriate? Will they be offended if you offer?

As a person who doesn’t have a vehicle, I often have to ask others for rides. When I go out for drinks with friends, I almost always get a ride. When I am headed somewhere, I often get picked up or dropped off somewhere. I am lucky to have such generous friends who are willing and able to give me a lift, so I try to give them gas money when they are inconvenienced.

The other day when my wife and I suddenly had to hop into our friend’s car and beg to get a ride home, I started to wonder whether gas money is always required, or if it should be reserved for certain situations. I know some people who would never even offer gas money as they feel as though they don’t have the responsibility to. After all, it is not as if they are the one driving the car, and with the benefit of the car comes the cost of transportation. Is that right though? Should you offer gas money, or shouldn’t you?

When is Gas Money Appropriate?

If you are wondering if giving the driver gas money is appropriate, I think that there are a few questions that you have to ask yourself. First, how much time, distance, and effort is the driver going through, in order to give you a ride? It is easy to simply figure out how far the driver is going, and tell yourself that it is really only a couple of kilometers away. Surely they don’t want compensation for such a small distance. But what you should also consider is how much time this might cost the driver. Even if it is only a few blocks, traffic might dictate just how long it takes for them to drive you. A short distance drive isn’t always a short drive. In addition, are they leaving their family to give you a ride? Is it on their only day off? Are they borrowing someone else’s vehicle just to get you where you need to go?

Ask yourself

  • Do they have to go out of their way?
  • Are they already going in that direction?
  • Have they already given you a ride recently?

All in all, gas money is appropriate when you feel like it would be appreciated. Whether they are driving you a long way (like on a road trip), or if they went out of their way to help you (drove to get you, and then drove you right back to where they were), or if this is the third ride in two days that you’re getting, gas money shows that you appreciate the time, money, and effort that they have invested in you. Likewise, if you know that offering gas money would be insulting, because your relationship with that person is beyond minor financial inconveniences (they are your father, your spouse, your child, etc), then offering gas money might not be appreciated, and might even damage the relationship.

I believe that offering gas money is more about the thought than the amount. Half the time, when you offer, your friend may refuse, saying that it wasn’t that big of a deal. But even if they regularly decline, I would suggest that you still offer.

If you are refusing to offer gas money just in order to save your money, then you probably should reconsider your transportation options. Most people are willing to give you a ride or two, but those rides will dry up if you aren’t willing to contribute financially. Don’t let your friends drive you more than two or three times without at least offering gas money. Who knows? They might need the money even more than you do.

What do you think? Do you ask for rides? Do you offer gas money? Do you give rides to your friends? Do you ask for gas money?

Image by futureatlas

Written by Alan Schram

Alan Schram writes about personal finance and his encounters with it in his everyday life. Alan is recently married and is looking to save money on expenses and reduce his debts.

10 Responses to Gas Money

  1. I think offering to pay should be part of the protocol! It’s perfectly alright to rely on others; we all need to from time to time, but we never want to be or appear as if we’re taking advantage. Making the offer at least, will put the issue to bed.

    That said, it’s probably best to round up–to go at least a bit high on the amount of cash given. It isn’t just gas, it’s time and wear and tear.

    It may not be necessary with people with whom we have reciprocal relationships, but if it’s someone we don’t regularly help, we should offer. Also, as you wrote, if it’s a long or inconvenient trip, we should offer no matter what.

  2. They say that the average cost of a vehicle for a person is about 30% of their gross income.

    I think its only appropriate to ask someone who is giving you a ride if they want any gas money; besides, for the most part, people will say “don’t bother!”

    As Kevin mentioned, it is part of the protocol of common decency, and by you asking people if they want money for gas speaks volumes as to the type of person you are. I know people that get rides from others and would never be courteous enough to ask if they want a few bucks for some gas.

    When I go on vacation without a vehicle and relatives and/or friends are carting me around, I often ask if they want gas money or not. The most often answer is no and I find that if I am ‘bumming’ rides a lot in the run of a week, i’ll pay for the person’s way into a movie or buy them lunch or something.

    Great thread! Never seen one like this b4
    The RAT

  3. I think if it’s on the way, it’s alright. If it’s really out of the way though then I think it’s appropriate to chip in for gas money.

    Gas is so expensive these days (especially with all the tax we have to pay in Canada– and more, thanks to Gordo Campbell)…

  4. The main key is whether or not you’re taking advantage of someone else in order to save money. If you don’t own a car because you can’t afford one but then accept free rides from friends to make up for it, you are taking advantage. This shouldn’t require so much analysis. If you’re stewing about whether or not you should be offering to pay, it’s probably your conscience talking.

  5. my friend does not have a car and when we all arrange to meet, she automatically assumes she has a lift with me, she never once asks for one, and when i pick her up she never offers any money for gas, or to pay for my lunch, anything, and its time consuming and costly to get her sometimes. not only that, she wants to get her license now and she expects myself or my husband to teach her how to drive with our car, and im guessing she wont be shelling out petrol for that either, not to mention the risk we take by helping her. im so frustrated by her inconsiderate behavior i want to end this friendship. i mean im at a point that whenever she tries to get ahold of me i avoid her, because its because she wants a lift, etc. i think im more upset that she never offers. i dont think i would take the money, (although sometimes i actually really need it and i am also broke myself) but it would be nice to offer…

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  7. I gave my last ride a few months ago to a friend who expects rides to the airport and around town to pick up her car from the shop,and the rental car place ect.. She even wanted me to pick her boyfriend up from the airport when her car was broke down at 10:30 at night because his flight wasn’t leaving until the next day. I didn’t do it but she didn’t offer gas money to make that trip,the next day he must have sprung for a shuttle but had the nerve again to ask me to drive him in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic to a airport about 27 miles away with AGAIN no offer for gas. She may have given me something duringthese several rides but why should I have to ask. This is sa user and a freeloader! Over a year ago I offered to give her a ride,but since then she’s asked for maybe a total of about 10,and I’ve given her about six,never getting a dime for these rides. Gas is expensive in California and I can barely scrape together money for myself for gas,she recently tried to sponge another ride on me. I just told her “NO, I can’t afford to give rides right now,gas is expensive,and I can barely put $5.00 in my tank,she didn’t reply back but the point is I’M DONE!!!! She used up all her free passes and her rides have dried out! People if you ask for rides ,offer your friend money.don’t be a freeloader and cheap skate!We’re better off without you takers who do this!

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