BMO Financial Group
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BMO Financial Group

May 20, 2011 04:00 ET

May Long Weekend Kicks Off Summer Travel-Outlook for Gasoline Depends on Oil and Volatile Geopolitics

BMO Offers 24 Tips on Ways to Save on the "May 2-4" Long Weekend

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 20, 2011) - With the first long weekend of the vacation season upon us, many Canadians will be travelling to cottages, cabins and other destinations to visit with family and friends. With some recent relief for gas prices, consumers may continue to enjoy savings as part of their travel plans.

"Gas prices tend to follow oil prices. Oil has pulled back recently, and we have seen a similar retracement in gas prices," said Earl Sweet, Senior Economist, BMO Financial Group.

Mr. Sweet notes that there is growing evidence of "demand destruction," in the United States. As a result of the run up in gas prices, Americans are driving less and are turning to more fuel efficient cars. That, in turn, has reduced the demand for gasoline and contributed to a drop in prices.

"Overall, the outlook for oil and gas prices hinges crucially on political and social turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East. If the unrest were to spread to another important oil producing nation, oil and gasoline prices would spike much higher. Assuming the situation begins to stabilize, we would expect U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate to average $95 for the next year, not far from current levels, suggesting gas prices wouldn't climb much further."

However, Mr. Sweet adds there will likely be significant volatility around that average as oil markets are whipsawed between Middle East supply concerns and the potential for a hard landing in China as it tightens monetary policy in response to inflationary pressures.

As consumers gear-up to celebrate the first holiday of the vacation season, BMO offers 24 tips on ways to save on "May 2-4" - a list to make this Victoria Day Weekend a memorable one, without stressing the bank account:

  1. Save on gas: Use your loyalty rewards to cut fuel costs. For example, it only takes 175 AIR MILES to get a $20 Shell Fuel Certificate that can be used at participating Shell, Turbo, Beaver and Payless locations in Canada. Also, the BMO CashBack MasterCard gives you a 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent cash rebate when you purchase your fuel at Shell.
  2. Carpool: Carpool with friends and family and save money by splitting the gas bill.
  3. Fill-up: Check your tire pressure to improve your gas mileage and, if traveling locally, consider filling up halfway so that a full tank of gas doesn't weigh down your car.
  4. Get a tune-up: Get your car to a local mechanic prior to travelling. This will avoid any preventable costly repairs.
  5. Budget: Set a budget and stick to it. Using cash can help to keep better track of your purchases, and how much you've spent.
  6. 'Staycation': Take advantage of special offers to local attractions. For example, Ontario Place has free admission all summer to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
  7. Hunt for change: Scour the house for spare change, and take it to a free BMO coin counting machine, located at select branches across Canada. Use the money to help fund this weekend's activities.
  8. Have a garage sale: Sell off things you don't need or use to fund this holiday weekend and future summer vacations.
  9. Tourist savvy: Stay away from high tourist attractions as prices are usually at their peaks during the long weekend.
  10. Plan ahead: Make a list and avoid buying things last minute. Start shopping ahead of time for weekly deals on items you know you'll need for the weekend. You often pay a premium price for convenience.
  11. Family night: A trip to the movies for a family of four can come to more than $100 after tickets, food, gas and parking. Rent a movie and watch it at home, or break out an old board game and have a family game night.
  12. Discounted entertainment: Take advantage of matinee shows to save on ticket prices, or borrow books, magazines and movies from your local library rather than purchasing or renting them.
  13. Do your research: Read reviews and shop around for the best deals. Group discount websites can be great tools for finding ways to save you money and take advantage of the discounts you already qualify for through memberships, senior citizen, and student discounts.
  14. Capture family moments: Avoid buying souvenirs and make your own out of photos of your trip.
  15. Box-it: Compare the price of boxed wine to purchasing several bottles of wine.
  16. Meal deals: Choose restaurants that offer weekly specials and/or where kids eat free.
  17. Compare food options: Avoid buying only brand name products and merchandise. Many companies offer comparable products for a fraction of the price associated with brand names.
  18. Get a deal: Check your local grocery store flyer for weekly deals and consider what items you can purchase in bulk quantities.
  19. 'Brown bag it': Bring your own food and snacks from home. This will save you from making impulsive purchases based on your stomach instead of your wallet.
  20. Put on a pot of coffee: Make your own coffee in the morning, rather than going out and buying it.
  21. Grill it: Rather than going out for dinner this weekend, stay home and have a BBQ.
  22. Public Transit: Where available, hop on to a public bus or train. Also look for group discounts such as the Family Pass offered by your local transit authority, to get where you and your family need to go this weekend.
  23. Accommodation: Stay with friends and family rather than at a hotel. Alternatively, consider local campsites and enjoy the outdoors.
And finally, this weekend, BMO offers one last money saving tip:
  1. Cash in on your empties: Before making the trip to your local beer store to purchase your weekend supply of beverages, collect and redeem your empty beer and wine bottles, where applicable, for some extra cash.

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