If you’re using your car for a group road trip, it’s easy to feel you’re contributing more than your fair share. After all, not only are you putting miles on your vehicle, but you’re also out gas money. Wanting to split the gas cost is understandable – the only question is how to politely bring up the topic.
You can politely ask for gas money by bringing up the topic with the others going on the trip when you agree to provide your vehicle and drive. If they disagree, you can choose to withdraw your offer of driving. However, you shouldn’t bring it up on the spot or get upset if they decline.
Asking for gas money can be nerve-wracking, and it can be challenging to determine in which situations you can bring up the topic. If you’re confused about this topic, keep reading – we’ll answer any questions you may have.
How To Ask for Gas Money
Some of us may experience a version of stage fright when asking others for gas money. We may forget what we planned to say, fumble our words, and inadvertently offend the other person. This is why, for those with social anxiety, having a script memorized can be extremely useful.
Here are a few ways you can bring up the topic of gas money with your friends, coworkers, and family:
- “I’d be happy to drive us down in my car, but since we’re traveling a distance, I think it would be fair if we split the gas equally. Would you be okay with that?”
- “How do you want to split the expenses? Do you want to take turns paying for gas and snacks, or should we split all the costs equally?”
- “I’d be happy to drop you home. However, since it’s a bit out of my way, I think we should split the gas money between us.”
- “You know I enjoy the additional time we spend together when I drive you home. However, the extra gas costs are really affecting my budget, so I was wondering if we could split the gas money going forward?”
You can choose which approach to use depending on how close you are to the person (or people) you’re talking to. For example, the second example would be appropriate when talking to an acquaintance or coworker, while you should only use the third option with a close friend, family member, or significant other that you know won’t misconstrue your words.
You can also edit these lines depending on the situation. For example, if you’re driving your partner to work daily, you can change the last option from “…we spend together when I drive you home” to “…we spend together when I drive you to work.” These are simple templates you can use as a resource when you craft your own script, personalized to your situation.
Asking for Gas Money When You’ve Forgotten Your Wallet
Occasionally, you may ask for gas money not because you want to split the cost with the other person but because you’ve forgotten your wallet at home or don’t have enough money to cover the gas. In this situation, explain your circumstances, ask for the money you need, and promise to return the money as soon as possible.
Here are some script choices you can use when broaching the subject of being short on cash:
- “Hey! I’m a bit short on cash today, and I was wondering if you could spot me a couple of dollars? I’ll pay you back tomorrow!”
- “I think I’ve forgotten my wallet – could you lend me money for gas? I’ll pay you back once we reach home.”
If you’re traveling alone and don’t have an alternate way to pay for gas, you may have to approach a stranger for help. You should do this very carefully, and only in a true emergency.
Remember, you do not know who the other person is, what their mood is, or their financial situation. You should be upfront but extremely polite at the same time. Acknowledge that you are in an uncomfortable position, as this will help you put them at ease.
Here’s one way of asking a stranger for money:
“Excuse me, sir/ma’am. I’m so sorry for bothering you, and I’m so embarrassed for having to bring this up, but I seem to have left my wallet at home. My car doesn’t have enough gas for me to drive home, so I was wondering if you could spare a few dollars? I understand if that’s not possible – thank you for your time!”
Keep in mind that this is someone you will likely not see again and will be unable to pay back. Additionally, you’re as unknown to them as they are to you, which means they will understandably be cautious when you approach them.
When talking, stay polite, keep your tone of voice calm, and accept their answer – even if it’s a no – without arguing. As soon as you finish speaking with them and thanking them for their help, walk back to your car immediately.
How To React to a Decline To Pay Gas Money
Occasionally, your friends, family, or coworkers will decline the option of splitting gas money equally. They may decide a different split works better for them. Here, you may need to negotiate and reach an agreement that works for both of you.
Alternatively, they may decline to contribute to the gas bill altogether. In this situation, you can either accept their decision or decide not to continue with your offer of driving them.
Here are some ways to react to a refusal of your request:
- “Would you prefer we take turns driving to the office instead?”
- “I understand that splitting the gas expenses is not possible for you. However, I’m afraid I cannot fit the additional expenses into my budget, and I hope you understand why I’d rather not drive us down next weekend.”
As with asking for the money, you can modify these scripts depending on your specific situation.
How Not To Ask for Gas Money
As you’ve likely realized, being polite and upfront is the key to asking for gas money. Here are some ways you should avoid asking:
- Don’t demand. Be aware that there’s a chance they may say no, and decide how you’ll react if that is the case. However, understand that you cannot force someone to contribute gas money – you can only choose what your reaction will be. Additionally, being too forceful and demanding in your initial discussion can turn the other person away and increase the risk of them saying no.
- Don’t spring it on them. Asking them when they’re in the car with you and have no other transportation option is bad etiquette – they may feel pressured to say yes. Ask well in advance so you can think of another plan if you cannot agree on how to split the gas money.
Additionally, you should be conscious when asking for gas money. There are some situations in which you may be doing the driving and paying for the gas, but asking to split the gas expenses is inappropriate. Here are a few examples:
- If you’re driving for work and plan to put in a mileage claim, you shouldn’t ask for the gas expenses to be split. After all, you will be re-paid by your workplace.
- If you’re not going out of your way. For example, if someone requests to be dropped off home and their house is on your regular route, asking for partial gas expenses to be covered will come off as discourteous.
- When you are being paid back in some other way. For example, if you’re going on a trip and your friends are covering your meals as payment for you driving them and paying for gas, you should not ask for gas money on top of this. Similarly, if you split the driving with someone, asking for gas money will seem greedy.
- If you owe the other person. For example, if the other person has done you several favors and asks you for one-time help with transportation, asking for repayment of gas money will seem churlish.
Asking for gas money – or any money at all – can be nerve-wracking, even if you’re dealing with close friends and family. When doing so, remember to be polite and explain your reasoning.
If they decline your proposal of splitting the gas expenses, don’t push them too much. If they are a stranger, accept their answer immediately. If you know them, asking one or two times more is okay. However, if they still continue to decline, accept that you cannot force them to split the money and decide whether you’ll still drive them or withdraw your offer to do so.